Pushing Up

The job I have now is an interesting beast. I’ve wrestled with it now for, well, as long as I’ve been doing it – about seven years. I’ve never encountered anything so emotionally challenging, nor something that has forced me to adapt with such immediacy.

What strikes me the most about it is how I am always needing to adjust my perspective. Sometimes my emotions can get the better of me, but when I take a step back and look at how good I have it, my perspective is slanted towards the positive. The most challenging thing is not being able to see the forest for the trees.

I think this can extend to all walks of life  – not only jobs, but also activities, or moments or stretches of time when we are just “not feeling it.” It takes quite a bit of discernment to know if it’s worth it to push through, or if it’s not. If it is, pushing through is smart. If it’s not, you may have no choice – pushing through may still be required.

Good for those who have reached a point to where they don’t have to deal with the emotional roller coaster. But I’m sure that ride still exists for everyone – even those who have graduated to doing work that resonates with every fiber of their being. Come to think of it, do those people even exist?

I guess perspective is not as important as I thought. Sure, it may make the pushing through easier, or harder, but the perspective is always going to be what it is at the time. So what’s left? Whatever is left is the stuff to be dealt with. It’s the dirty stuff – it’s the stuff that can be tough to swallow. But it’s also the stuff that makes us stronger, makes us grow.

We won’t get stronger or grow, however, if we don’t push up and not through. If we spend all of our time pushing through, we just might stay on the same ride for longer than we bargained for. If we push up, we might make a bit of our own luck, and be able to switch to another, better ride.

On Sleep

Sleep has become a new focus of mine. I first became acquainted with the importance of sleep only recently, when listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the James Altucher Show, in which he interviews Ariana Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post and author of the book The Sleep Revolution.

I won’t go into statistics or start listing off facts, but yeah – let’s just say sleep is pretty cool. Most inhabitants of Planet Earth are underslept, and are oblivious to this and wondering why symptoms in their health, work and personal lives are showing up. I am no model sleeper – I still fall into this category. But I’ve become fascinated with the science and practicality of sleep.

A few days after listening to Sleep Revolution on audiobook, I had the first full, good night’s sleep in a long while, and I remember feeling refreshed in a way that I hadn’t felt in weeks. (That’s because sleep reorganizes and rehabilitates your brain as well as your body, providing you with an improved mental attitude and allowing new perspectives to form). That’s when it really “dawned” on me (see what I did there?) – I was hooked.

The importance of perspective when it comes to simply being “Happy” cannot be denied – Happiness Advantage author Shawn Achor writes, “by changing the way we perceive ourselves and our work, we can dramatically improve our results.” [p. 78] If good sleep can provide a playing field for new, healthier perspectives, it makes sense to do everything one can to set up his or her life to maximize good quality sleep.

Since that night, I’ve become addicted to the question of “how can I get not only sufficient but uninterrupted, deep sleep as many nights as possible”? Turns out that this question can’t exactly be answered in a single blog post. To actually accomplish this requires, like any indispensable facet of life, looking at and factoring in how it fits into all of the other puzzle pieces. What do I want to get done the following morning (or, in my case, afternoon)? When will I be turning in that night (or early morning)? Did I have naps that day? Caffeine? Are the conditions ideal for good sleep (blacked out room, earplugs, eye mask, etc.)?

I like Sleep, but not only for the reasons one might think. I like it because it forces me to ask bigger questions about my life. Sleep is one of the Big Three, the other two being Diet and Exercise. I see these three as being the roots from which all other facets of life spring. To become curious about them indicates that we’re starting to ask some bigger questions, which, if we stay curious, will improve the quality of our lives in general in the long run.