yourlifeforce

Tunes of wisdom: ‘Step by Step’ by Whitney Houston/Annie Lennox – 5 lessons for handling life

In Changing life, Life goals, Productivity, Resolutions 2012, spirit on March 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm

I love music! Each pulsating, thumping beat can have the magical effect of changing your mood and even your attitude. The lyrics and melody of a song can sometimes speak to you in the way that nothing else can. Music crowns words with the majesty of symphony.Every so often I’ll devote a blog article to a great song that captures something useful to take away about life. Your suggestions are welcome and I’d love to hear about any songs dear to you that give you a bit of insight about life. This time, we’ll take a look at ‘Step by Step’, one of my favourites, and an old Annie Lennox original, resurrected to R & B acclaim by the late, great Whitney Houston. Go on, get listening! So, what can you take away from ‘Step by Step’?

  • Life is a journey and the path isn’t always clear: (“there’s a bridge and there’s a river that I still must cross, as I’m going on my journey though I might be lost.”)

One thing I’ve been reminded of over the last couple of years is that as cliched as it sounds, life is a journey. It is full of experience both good and bad, constantly able to change and sometimes stagnant.   Sometimes when things happen we can easily get consumed in the minutiae of an event, whether it is inspiring or depressing. It is easy not to keep your eyes high, looking over the horizon and at all things that come your way with perspective. Or through the lens of the long-term. There are no guarantees in life. There never has been a guarantee that things will always work out well. Nor is it certain that things will always work out badly because the past has been like that. Opportunities come and go. Doors swing open and doors also shut firmly in one’s face!! Both perils and golden times are the lot of every person. But the way to get the best out of the journey of life, is to do what makes you feel alive, gives you insight into who you are and leads you to grow as a person. The experience and feeling of living and being alive is found in your trying, your exploring and the courage you show to yourself.  The journey of life is to discover yourself. If the destination was fixed, what would be the point of walking in the first place?!

  • Don’t worry about the journey, just focus on taking things one step at a time and bit by bit (“I’m taking it step by step…day by day, mile by mile”).

I have always hated the saying “patience is a virtue” and never really understood it, partly as I can be quite an impatient person myself. But, it does have a ring of truth to it. We are not only on a collective path together, we all, of course, have our own individual journey of life to walk. Each of us have different challenges to face. When things get on top of you, distract you from your journey, or knock your confidence, remember the way to pick yourself up and get back on the track is to take things one step at a time. It’s the best way for your self confidence to start growing again. So, if you’re looking for a career change because things aren’t great or even if they are great and you’re just itching to do something different, just start mapping out how/what you need to start moving towards that goal. But do it bit by bit to get there. If a relationship fails, instead of jumping into another one quickly with the next girl or guy that comes along, maybe take it all step by step, bit by bit. If you’re trying to save, but maybe are on a low income or not the salary you want, don’t be discouraged, try and start, bit by bit. You never know what opportunities might come your way, once you take a throw of the dice.

  • The past might be horrible, full of old burdens and perils, as might the future, but if you don’t walk, you’ll stay still. In the long-run that might be worse because of the opportunities you’ll miss. Try not to get sunk by the past  (“this old road is rough and ruined, so many dangers along the way, so many burdens might fall upon me, so many troubles I might to face”).

I’m convinced the past is the reason why so many of us don’t ramp up the volume in life, accept second best and sometimes don’t go for the things we really want to.  There is an unfortunate philosophy in modern life, that life really can be everything you want and desire, without the hard work, with the joy, but equally without the pain. The latter is a part of life and our human experience, whatever school of thought you believe in. You might have walked down many a rough path in the past, full of thorns of unexpected sideswipes, people that hurt you or let you down, dreams not realised despite your hard work. Sometimes this can dissuade you from trying again – it is easy to think “what’s the point?” That’s when you issue a mental invitation to settle your journey of life so that your path is safe, involves no risk, or possibility of being let down or ‘hurt’ by Life ever again. That thinking is an illusion. Again, life is both predictable and random. Good things happen to bad people, sometimes the villain does actually win. Good things happen to good people; bad things do happen to good people; bad things happen to bad people. No one, in my experience, really gets a free pass to enjoy the best of life without having to take a risk, or take action to walk their own journey. Life is a great opportunity to experience joy, happiness and smiles. Expansion, growth and knowledge, despite potential and sometimes likely difficulties that will cross your way as you walk your journey. You can’t really open your mind and energy to those great opportunities if you resolve to stay where you are because of burdens from the past. And if the past doesn’t finish you off completely, not being true to yourself certainty will at a later date. Come on! Courage. Step by step. If you know it would be better for you to turn right, rather than left, do it. “Get up and walk,” so to speak. Even if that destination isn’t clear. Don’t let the past sink you!

  • Tap into the deeper part of you when things are rough. Display tenacity and perseverance (“I won’t let my spirit fail me, I won’t let my spirit go, until I get to  my destination…say it baby, don’t give up, you’ve got to hold on to what you’ve got”).

Following on from the above, when times are tough, as they sometimes are, don’t give up at the first sign of difficulty or doubt. Keep trying, show some grit and dig deeper into your own inner reserves. For you it might be through exercise or doing something physical to keep you going. Or it might be something artistic that helps to express and create and provide the ‘juice’ for more motivation.  It might be some kind of spiritual or meditative practice to help generate perspective and optimism in yourself and the future. Doesn’t matter. Find something to ensure your ‘spirit’ has a chance to keep inspiring you until things take a turn for the better. Don’t throw in the towel yet! Also, it is really important to remember the good things you’ve got and the good things you’ve done. That’s important to keep you going. It is very easy to let your mind get clouded by lots of untruths you tell yourself when things aren’t going so well. Perspective is a vital tonic here. Make a point of carving out time to record and recall the little and big successes you’ve had in life when things seemed to count against you. You’ll hopefully start remembering that you’re more emotionally competent than you’re probably giving yourself credit for.

  • Be authentic. Don’t try and live the dreams or life of other people. Experiencing life means you have to strike out on your own more often than not. Create, own and make real your own ‘vision’ of your life   (“…there’s a road I have to follow, a place I have to go, but no-one told me just how to get there, but when I get there I’ll let you know”).

A lot of time and energy is spent teaching kids how to get good grades in school, when sometimes I think half that energy and resources should be spent on showing them how to be authentic. A lot of us are bombarded by a zillion advertising messages a day, encouraging us to be this or that, try this or that, be yourself but be prepared to be someone else! It’s a wonder anyone knows who they are by the time they go to bed. Be authentic. Don’t live up to the expectations and tired obligations of anyone who thinks that the way to live your life is to do what may in truth, reflect their own self-interest. I suggest there are three simple things to do if you’ve dreams of doing something or living your life in a way that makes more sense to you, or reflects who you are inside, but are being dissuaded from doing so, by the criticisms of gibes of others. First, ask yourself if what you want to do is going to hurt anyone. If not, don’t talk yourself out of it. Note, this doesn’t mean not doing something out of ‘obligation’, tradition or family or peer pressure.  Second, ask yourself what is the worst that can happen and can you cope if it does? By that I mean, add some perspective to the issue at hand. Unless you’re going to hurt anyone or yourself, is there much of an excuse for  not, at least, beginning to explore how to make your dream a reality? Third, do it!! Stop analysing. Throw your mind, body and spirit into action, before your idea and motivation gets infected by inertia and doubt. Vision has to be discovered. You can’t do that by not striking out.

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