While reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I was struck by one of the author’s goals as she pursued greater happiness in her work life. She had decided to challenge herself by learning a new skill – blogging. She recognized something that we have all experienced first hand: it feels good to master a new skill, to push ourselves past our initial hesitations and uncertainties. If you have children, you’ve watched them struggle to learn to catch a football or play the piano. Perhaps there were tears of frustration — theirs and yours — as well as angry recriminations, “Why are you making me do this?” Yet when they begin to get the hang of it, they are full of pride and confidence! They’ve pushed past their discomfort and conquered a new skill. One of my guiding mottos comes from the poet William Butler Yeats:
“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth, We are happy when we are growing.”
Life invites us to accept challenges and learning opportunities daily if not hourly. Clearly we can’t all become master chefs, dance with the stars or be America’s next singing sensation but in small, meaningful ways we can stretch ourselves. Maybe it’s beginning a new family ritual or tradition (more on that in the next post!) or making time for quiet reflection. I have been meaning to start this blog for quite some time now. I can certainly relate to Gretchen’s initial hesitations in starting her own blog: Will I have the time? How difficult will it be to maintain? What will my audience think of what I have to say? It certainly represents a challenge, an opportunity to push myself both personally and professionally!
As I welcome you to this new venture, I also want to challenge you to identify areas of your own life where you want to seek growth, whether personal, relational or professional. What small steps might you take to get started?