When I found out I had vespers I wasn’t sure what I should talk about. In Liverpool, where I go to university, I study philosophy, so I felt a sort of pressure to know what to think about and talk about. Maybe the reason why I couldn’t think of what to talk about is because I don’t really have any incredible, life changing advice. I don’t have a secret that makes everything perfect, I don’t know something that everyone else doesn’t. But what I do have, is my experiences, so I thought I’d give you a brief timeline of my life, and hopefully one of you may take one thing from it.
I spent my childhood how most of you probably did, having fun. My main concerns included what I was gonna eat, what I games I was gonna play and what new shows were premiering on Cartoon Network. This was all I needed and life couldn’t get any better, I had no concerns or stresses because subconsciously or not I chose to define life by one metric: having fun.
Everyday was a good day because I defined it that way.
As I approached the end of my childhood I changed. I was overthinking things as simple as eating and sleeping, talking with people became a difficulty, not something to enjoy. I felt that just existing generally became something I had to try and do rather than something that just happened. I didn’t enjoy what I used to enjoy as a younger child and when people would ask me why I wouldn’t really have an answer for them. I would walk around visibly down and it frustrated me to not have an answer as to why I felt this way. Nothing about my external life changed significantly. I knew I was very blessed to have a healthy and well-supported home which caused even more confusion for me as to why I was down. This continued to a point where I closed myself off to the events and happenings of life and became emotionally numb to the happenings around me, my progression in life was paralyzed by my own mind. I chose to define my life by one metric, surviving each day, that’s all I was doing, surviving, not living.
Everyday was a bad day because I defined it that way.
After some maturing I realized that this wasn’t a sustainable way to live. I studied a lot and talked with friends who were also maturing on the same path I was, and we realized something. Life is not based on your external circumstances. Nothing external in my life changed from my early childhood to my late childhood, yet my enjoyment of life changed drastically.
This is because life and happiness is completely based upon how you choose to define it.
This may sound like a gross oversimplification of something as complex as life. But I’d argue that if you think life is complicated then a complicated life you will live. Me and my friends realized that life is a positive thing if you make the choice to see it that way. When you ask yourself at the end of the day if today was a good or bad day, what actually happened in the day doesn’t really matter, your perspective does. Was today a bad day or was there one moment of peace you had that you wouldn’t have appreciated if today was a “good day”? The choice is yours.
You can choose to spend your days scrolling through news stories online that tell you the million different ways the world is ending and how you should feel bad about it, or you could instead focus on and appreciate the beauty that the world and life has to offer. This attitude of choice is the key to living life satisfied.
You might be aware of a little “pre-dinner inspiration” we read at camp sometimes, it goes something like “people who ask if the glass is half full or half empty are missing the point, the point is the glass is refillable.” Call me controversial but I disagree, I think the fact that we can ask the question if the glass is half full or half empty shows it’s really neither and it’s our choice which we see it as. We are blessed with this unique ability to choose how we perceive.
So Boys Camp, before you judge a program area or an evening program as boring or not cool, I challenge you to question your perspective, because I can promise you when you try to have fun, you will have fun. It’s so important to be careful of the stories you tell yourself.
To wrap up I want to emphasize one final point to you. That not a single part of your life is defined by external things. Difficult things will happen to you of course, this is unavoidable. Let the waves of life pass you by, good and bad, enjoy everything for what it is. Appreciate the lessons that difficult times can bring you, and celebrate the good times just as much. Remember that happiness in life does not come from doing that one thing you always wanted to do, happiness is a choice you must make on a daily basis.
So, don’t invent your own stress, choose to be amazed with life daily.
Why cry in the rain, when you can sing in it?