Sidelined with an Injury? Take a Much-Needed Timeout

injuryIs a serious injury or recovery from a major operation keeping you sidelined from your usual occupations and hobbies?  It can be difficult for the ambitious to suddenly have to stop.  The inertness can drive some people insane.

Still, there are some serious perks to staying put.  Assuming your pain is being well managed, you can really take advantage of this time.

Get online and buy yourself three books that look interesting to you.  Most of us are so busy these days we rarely take the time to finish an entire magazine article – forget an entire book!  Take this chance to catch up on your reading.  You can choose whatever you want, and it can be long, maybe one of those two thousand page fantasy novels.  If you’re not the type to fit this kind of thing into your life, then you won’t be doing it when you get back on your feet.  Do it now.

Search around for three new apps that will make your life better.  You can really browse and experiment with different options that interest you.  Then take the time to learn how to make the best use of the ones you chose.  If you don’t bother now, you won’t later.

Sharpen your mind.  Yes, you’re physically sidelined, but your mind doesn’t care.  Given Stephen Hawking as a shining example, we should all realize how much we can accomplish with our minds.  Pro athletes who have been injured and can’t yet get back on the field use mental imagery and other exercises to keep their minds fit.  You can do the same.

When the mind sharpening is finished, watch marathons of your favorite television shows.  Now that we have Netflix there has never been a better time to stop and plop and watch whole seasons of quality TV.

Take stock of your life.  Take your time and go over what’s going well and what could go better.  This is not a work review or a test or anybody else’s opinion of you or your life.  This is just you thinking about you.  Enjoy it.  The experience won’t last long enough.

One more thing:  Do nothing.  Do absolutely nothing.  Feel the silence.  Feel the peace.

Did you feel it?

Your convalescence is already over.   Hopefully you enjoyed it.

Finding the Meaning in Failure

failurePerhaps you’ve recently faced failure, a bankrupted small business, an unpublished manuscript or a declined proposal for a date.  If you’re endeavoring at all in life, you will undoubtedly fail at some of your attempts, maybe at many.  But that’s okay.  Failure has many favorable aspects.  Here are some of them.

There’s beauty in failure. 

In 2008, the poet Philip Schultz won the Pulitzer Prize for his artful collection of poems.  The title of the collection is <i>Failure</i>.  Schultz’s tender poetry evokes the bittersweet beauty in life’s mishaps and mistakes.  He depicts the exquisite human drama that couldn’t exist without disappointment.  Schultz reminds us to look for the subtle loveliness of losing.

There are lessons to be learned.

Bill Gates has stated that he believes it’s more important to learn from failure than to celebrate success.  It has been said many times that we can learn from our mistakes.  But how many of us really do?  Are you too busy being bummed to step back, take stock of your mistakes and find ways not to repeat them?  Feeling down is busy work.  In this context it’s better to be lazy.  Neglect your anguish and learn what you can.

Failure is a natural part of life and doesn’t need to negate happiness.  

The political philosopher Thomas Hobbes defined felicity (or happiness) as continual success.  If that’s true, then nobody I know could have much happiness.  Success is fleeting, but happiness doesn’t need to be.  It depends on your state of mind.  Many Eastern philosophies accept the premise that humans don’t need material wealth to be happy.  We don’t.  And we don’t need constant success either.

Failure helps us learn humility. 

Has your own personal failure been humiliating?  This can be a lesson in humility.   The two words (humiliating and humility) have very different meanings and connotations.  But in truth they’re related.   Our failures, particularly the most mortifying moments, can teach us humility.  And humility is an admirable human trait, one that cultivates empathy and kindness.  The opposite of humility, arrogance, is often a mask for insecurity.  Don’t envy the arrogant.  Humble hearts are happier.

Lost Job, Found Joy

A year ago, a close friend of mine lost his job.  He was a successful compliance officer at a bank.  He worked hard at his job, and he was good at it, but changing economic realities left my friend with a new reality of his own: unemployment.

Being fired is mortifying.  It’s confidence crushing.   And it’s financially horrifying.  My friend felt all of these emotions.  These negative feelings only multiplied when, after many months, despite strong credentials, he still couldn’t find another position.  He was married, with a home and a young child.  His moderate savings were quickly being depleted.  He felt overwhelmed and completely at a loss.

When a potentially excellent position fell through after what my friend thought was a very positive interview, he hit rock bottom.  Despite unwavering support from his wife, he confessed to me a sense of being utterly out of control in his life as well as feelings of self-loathing and depression.

After one last long night of wallowing, he decided to change the one thing he <i>could</i> control: his attitude.  He committed to focusing on the positives of his situation.

The first thing he remarked on was his gratitude at being able to spend so much more time with his two-year-old son.  His prior job required a heavy time commitment, and he often had to miss those little amazing moments parents cherish.  He now had what he called an extended vacation.  Yes, he would work hard at securing a new job, but there was only so much he could do, and while he was at home he embraced his time with his family.

He also resolved to use some of his forced free time to get back into shape.  Working long stressful hours, he had gained a fair amount of weight.  This was an opportunity to take control of his health while he was still relatively young and to go into the next job with a new level of physical fitness.

He also realized something else.  He’d been so busy over the past decade that he hadn’t taken the time to notice much.  It occurred to him one day sitting out on his front porch that he’d never really noticed what the house across the street looked like.  That’s how hectic his life had been.  This was his time to slow down and really “see” things again.

Eventually, a great new job became available, and he got the offer!   When he returned to work, he did so with a healthier outlook, a closer relationship with his son and a deeper appreciation of his wife and his life.