If you’re not going upward, the only direction you can go is down. To stagnate is to surrender; to do nothing for yourself; to give up on a better day completely. If we sit around feeling good enough in all aspects of life, or just too lazy to fix them, well, as Albert Einstein put it, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Olympic athletes are some of our culture’s most respected people. They swim, jump, run and throw with amazing skill and efficiency, nearly perfect as some may say. They sit at the tip-top of the world and still aren’t satisfied. The sky is the limit to them in a world where the atmosphere rises daily, yet we look at them as “perfect people.”
Imagine if these “perfect” people had set a previous benchmark of performance as “good enough,” and were satisfied with their performance enough to simply stay at that level. They would never be quite as good as they are today. They may take home a bronze instead of a gold, or may have never made it to the Olympics at all. To see those people never use that potential would be a shame, and maybe many of us are cheating ourselves for not trying as hard as we can to be the best we can.
Even little things can keep us going. Learning to do yo-yo tricks, or learning to play an instrument, can be just as good as becoming a great athlete if you can learn to appreciate the incremental gains made while improving. Half of the fun of self-improvement is the pride gained while doing it from breaking what were previously boundaries and limits.
I don’t get the point of sitting around anyway. Being a lazy person myself, I can appreciate a good period of doing nothing, but a life of sameness seems extremely boring. When people say “Same stuff, different day,” I’m not always sure if I can feel sorry for them. Especially if the person never takes a good look at his life and ask himself if there’s anything that could be better. Even if the things aren’t there to make it happen, getting those things could be worked toward. I would still imagine it’s better than doing the same thing day in and day out, which turns you robotic after a while.
It can be taken a bit like making a New Year’s resolution. In fact, losing weight is a good example of the happiness that can be found in increments of success. As the pounds fall off, people feel lighter, happier, better and, most importantly, they feel like they’ve worked hard toward a tangible change in their life that affects it and improves it. All of those fuzzy feelings could be yours, no party hats or fireworks required.
Obviously this is all just basic goal-setting, probably one of those most important things in life, but a goal toward setting goals can be rewarding within its goalception. After all, if we have no goals, we’re more prone to think of what we aren’t doing, what we can’t do, all of that bad mojo. Doing something prevents us from whipping out the tub of ice cream and spooning mixtures of self-pity tears and chocolate ice cream into our mouths. Busy hands can keep a mind off of negative thoughts — something to consider if you’ve ever found yourself rolling in your own negativity, doing nothing of any value to yourself.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re the only master of your own destiny, and that doing nothing will get you nothing.
Austin Czechowski is a sophomore at Cobleskill-Richmondville High School. Would you like A Word of Advice from him? Send him an email at email@example.com, or send him a letter to “Teen Talk: A Word of Advice,” c/o The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.