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May 17, 2013

One of the things I like most about myself is that I try to empathize. To try and understand why people do things, even if it’s not what I would do. It has grown since 2008 when I decided to be more flexible. To “roll with the punches” as it were so that I was less agitated when change happened. I think it’s something more people should try to employ because it really reduces the amount of stress in your life. Because as they say, whether you’re happy or not is really dependent on how you see things.

So with this desire to be empathetic, it’s still hard for me to understand when people don’t learn from their mistakes. I was telling my coworker [and have probably said it before] but it makes me feel like a Vulcan [I’m really big on Vulcan’s these days] – “Why are you doing this? It’s just not logical.” Along with this is the fact that very few people listen to my advice. I know I’m not perfect, and I don’t know everything, and I really haven’t experienced much in the grand scheme of things – but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about. And I try not to take it personal when I give advice and someone comes back with the same problem, never having even tried what I suggested. But it’s something I still struggle with.

I read all of these posts, specifically from designers &/or bloggers I follow having break downs. They talk about how they put too much work on their plates – they’re trying to do it all. They keep a good face in public, always smiling and talking like everything’s hunky-dory. But it’s not. And I don’t understand how they do that. I can fake it with the best of them for a little bit, we all do things we don’t really want to do, but to do it for a long period of time? I just don’t understand. In my mind, if there’s something that makes me really uncomfortable or I really don’t like it – I don’t do it/wear it/involve myself in it. So why do so many people continue to subject themselves to situations and thoughts that are bad for them? I’m sure there’s some psychological explanation, but I just feel like if it’s not a medical reason, just don’t do it.

I know it’s so easy to say that when I’m not in situation, no matter how much I can imagine what it’s like. But I also believe that if you want something enough, you do it. You want to be a stressed out workaholic? That’s what you’re going to be. You want to find balance in your life – whether it involves work, school, friends, family or kids – you do it. It’s not easy of course, but you do it. And a lot of times finding this balance of a happy life involves bringing other people into your problems. Which is scary, I know. And it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows everyday either. But do you want to continue trying to do it all yourself and be miserable, or do you want to be happy? Because that’s completely your choice.

Lately, Seth Godin has been my favorite reads. His insight is sometimes what I’ve been thinking or even stating in my day-to-day life, but also inspirational during my current career struggles. Recently he stated:

“You’re not lucky to have this job, they’re lucky to have you. Every day, you invest a little bit of yourself into your work, and one of the biggest choices available to you is where you’ll be making that investment.

That project that you’re working on, or that boss you report to… worth it?

Investing in the wrong place for a week or a month won’t kill you. But spending ten years contributing to something that you don’t care about, or working with someone who doesn’t care about you… you can do better.”

He also said:

“…The best way to honor someone who has said something smart and useful is to say something back that is smart and useful. The other way to honor them is to go do something with what you learned.

Good listeners get what they deserve–better speakers.”

So maybe you’re having a hard time in your life, and you’re going to someone to vent. Do them a favor – listen to what they say. And I’m not necessarily talking about the small boosting talks we all need now and then – I’m talking about when you’re having a problem and you’re talking [sometimes complaining] about it and the person you’re talking to is trying to help. The best thing you can do to respect that person who’s there for you in your time of need is to at least consider what they’re saying. And you never know, it might be helpful after all.

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