The Small Life

I’ve had a bunch of thoughts lately on how we talk to one another. Some people tell me I’m too defensive and I shouldn’t take things personally. Others try to motivate or inspire me by telling me that I’m not good enough. While it’s true that we each need to take time to process our thoughts before jumping to conclusions, I also think that personal matters are exactly that – they are personal. Heartfelt, intensely empathetic individuals such as myself, we feel everything very strongly. And while we can be taught ways to manage those emotions, I don’t see the need to stop feeling and/or expressing those emotions as long as the way we process them is constructive. 

Having said that, today’s thoughts come out of a place of intensely personal feelings as I navigate the world of both working for myself and alongside others. Over the years (especially since working with a cognitive behavioural therapist for 3yrs), I have been following many different positive psychology gurus, inspirational speakers/preachers, and I’ve pursued a few different modalities of thought in the process. Often words that were meant to have a motivational focus just didn’t sit well with me. 

I don’t believe that life coaches, motivational speakers, or positive psychology gurus have malicious intent. In fact, as their very focus is positivity it may seem a little “out of left field” for me to claim that their effects are quite the opposite. But please hear me out.

I’m sure we are all familiar with the following statements:

1. “Think big”

2. “Live bigger”

Don’t Live Small Lives

3. “Success is just beyond the comfort zone.”

Inspiration can be found in many places. For each of us as individuals it is found in different ways. Generally speaking, we know that introversion and extraversion are two very different personality types. Even for those who possess a bit of both, the needs associated with each personality type are undeniable. Extroverts are motivated, inspired and re-energized by other people, loud music, and large crowds. Introverts are the exact opposite – we need quiet times alone, a good book or article to read, and possibly some of our favourite chill tunes. This also applies to those of us battling mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety, or cognitive challenges from PTSD, head injuries or other influences. 

That being said, it has come to my attention that the quiet and simple life of few material needs, disconnected from the busy-ness of society, and uninterested in the pursuit of “bigger and better” has somehow become equated with lesser value. The marketing messages of our world have bombarded our psyche and programmed our speech. Bigger and bolder are better.

However, if truth be told, some of us find strength in our safe places. We live quieter lives, with simpler and smaller goals and dreams. Some of us are content with less – less stuff and less connection to the outside world and the media’s frenzied pace and politics. And that’s okay.

If this is you, I want to encourage you today. You are worthy just as you are. If you are happy in the quiet, stay quiet. If you are happy staying close to home, then do so. If you are happy being less connected, then appreciate and enjoy that simplicity. 

Let us not become so focused on the pursuit of bigger and better that we lose focus on what is important. People should not be poked and prodded and belittled for thinking and feeling differently. Inspiration can come from small, gentle leading just as well as it can come from big, bold, drastic action. 

In a world increasingly promoting aggressiveness, I hope we can all learn to take a step back and remember that “bigger/louder/bolder” isn’t always better and “smaller/quiet/simple” is not worse. On this the very day we celebrate Martin Luther King, I hope we can focus more on love and kindness instead of judgment and aggression. ❤

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” 

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