There are times when we can feel as though we are caught in the “back water” of life. We may doubt that we are making the difference we want to make. We are not making progress where we desire. We may even feel our confidence begin to wane and our optimism to dim.
Certainly, many forces and factors can contribute to these feelings. However, the challenge is to find our way out. We may not be able to control all the elements in our lives that push us in the direction of momentum loss and self-doubt, but there are steps we can take and areas to focus our attention to counter the malaise in which we find ourselves.
It happens that by taking control in some areas of our lives we can counter what we are experiencing elsewhere. When we create energy and build momentum in areas over which we have control, we often begin to see movement in other aspects of life.
We can begin to turn the situation around by the intentions we adopt for how we will spend our time, where we will focus our energy, and the actions we choose to take. Let’s consider four intentions we can adopt for each day that can put us on a path to rebuild our confidence and restore our optimism.
First, we can adopt an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is a surprisingly powerful life force. When we pay attention to the things in our lives we can be thankful for and we notice the actions of others that make our lives easier, more pleasurable, and full, our outlook automatically begins to change. We start to focus on what is good and valuable rather than what is frustrating and disappointing. Life gets better when we start the day committed to finding and appreciating what can make us grateful and end the day by reviewing and savoring what is good in our lives.
Second, we can commit to showing compassion to others. As difficult as our current circumstances may be, there are others who face challenges equal to or greater than ours. When we choose to notice, understand, and care about others, our burden can feel lighter. Further, when we show compassion to others, we gain an appreciation for their courage and can be inspired by their commitment. Showing compassion generates a sense of connectedness and reveals the value we can offer in the lives of others. It is a worthy question at the end of the day to inquire where and to whom we offered compassion.
Third, we can commit to being of service to others. As educators, we might assume that everything we do is in service to others. While this perspective has merit, the value of service is revealed when we take an additional step, offer a little additional attention, and provide a measure of support beyond what may be typical or required. When we provide a measure of extra service to others, they benefit and so do we. We feel better about ourselves and we can see the difference we make. Taking a few minutes at the end of the day to reflect on what we did to improve the lives of others, even in small ways, can make a big difference in how we feel about the day and what we did in it.
Fourth, we can commit to being curious. At first, this intention may seem like a surprising strategy to turn around our confidence and attitude. Yet, curiosity is the gateway to surprises, discovery, and learning. When we adopt an attitude of curiosity, we notice aspects of our world that we may have ignored or taken for granted. We ask questions that lead to new insights and information. We open ourselves to learning and exploring. Curiosity can lead us to see new opportunities and guide us to let go of what may be holding us back. At the end of the day when we recount for ourselves what we explored, discovered, and learned we can see a world that seemed closed begin to open and that invites us to grow and become who we want to be.
Intentions can be powerful forces. When we align our energy with what we want to accomplish we can overcome barriers that seemed insurmountable. New insights and opportunities emerge and new strategies surface. When we commit to practicing gratitude and showing compassion, being of service and remaining curious, and we take the time to reflect and appreciate our experience, we harness a force to rebuild our confidence and restore our optimism.