“The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is perspective”.
I was a pretty active and energetic child growing up. My parents were also full of energy and loved to inspire me to explore, play, and create—otherwise the case could be made that I should have been on some kind of medicine for hyperactivity.
I would run and ride my bike, hop on any horse, no matter how wild, climb trees and jump off from the very top, and swim all day long, only to come home and wrestle my siblings and the family dog.
Back then, everything was an adventure. Through the eyes of a child, the world seemed so fresh, so full of opportunity, so magical. Every corner hid some tucked away home for fairies or gnomes, every lightning bug was a wish, just begging to come true.
Those were much simpler times, yet I felt as most kids do—that I could take on the world without any limits.
Growing Up, Modernity, and the State of Being Overwhelmed
Now, flash forward to adulthood and the pressures of society, job stress, taxes, bills, student loan repayments, and countless other responsibilities have a tendency to dampen the mood—much like stepping into a puddle with clean socks on. Yuck.
What shifted? Why is it that, in an age where technology is supposed to make things more efficient and allow us more leisure time, we all feel so busy, so complicated, so… Overwhelmed?
I think it’s time to get back to home base, and to realize that we are not overwhelmed.
Actually, there is no way we could be. Let me explain.
The Power of Words
The words we speak are a direct reflection of our thoughts. The reality is, our thoughts and words shape the way we interact with the world around us.
When you say you’re hungry—a simple, common expression—you are declaring to the universe that, in this moment, you not only possess that quality, but you also exist as that quality; you are hungry. Every firing neuron in your brain embodies this thought and declaration.
This is why positive self-talk and perspective can be so empowering—because we train the body and mind to fully believe and commit to what we declare. On the other side of the coin, negative self-talk and perspectives can spell disaster for the mind and heart.
Unfortunately, however, society, media, and advertising have conditioned us to go to this not-so-shiny side more easily and quickly. Every day, we’re told that we are not good enough, not beautiful enough, not fit enough, not smart enough, not rich enough (and the list goes on, and on, and on).
It has become our nature as modern humans to second-guess ourselves and to cast doubt. But this is not true human nature. True human nature is limitless.
Reclaiming Our Power with Language
Somewhere along the way, we as adults have lost the ability to see the world as a playground and a magical landscape. That’s a shame, and I feel as though it contributes to our feelings of being overwhelmed. It’s not a badge of honor to be overwhelmed or to work yourself to exhaustion.
When we use the word overwhelmed, we are declaring that we have reached our limit, that we have maxed out our capacity. This word implies that we have nothing left to give—and this is far from the truth. You are bigger than this word, this thought—we all are.
If the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is perspective, this same shift in thought can also mean the difference between feeling drained, cooked, or overworked, and feeling vibrant, lively, and full. I like the word full.
It took time, but I’ve replaced my usage of the word overwhelmed with the word full. Being full implies a sensation of depth, but not overrunning at the rim. You can have a full schedule and also be full of love. You can have a full workload and also be full of joy.
When we change our vocabulary, our thoughts shift as well, which then shifts the way we perceive our surroundings—even ourselves.
Rediscovering Our Limitless Potential
Human potential is limitless. Your heart knows no bounds. When it starts to feel like the walls are closing in, or that your plate is too full, remember: you have the power to shift this. It takes practice, and it’s not easy. The way we think is programmed deeply from years of overuse and repetitive patterns of belief.
Never underestimate your own abilities—society does this enough for you. It’s time we regained our own strength. We are not overwhelmed. We are full— full of light, intellect, innovation, ability, potential, love, gratitude, and this list— this list is the one that should go on, and on, and on.
So breathe. Know that you have everything you need to accomplish not just what is in front of you: not just what is on your plate, but heaps and mounds more. Make the conscious decisions to avoid energy-sucking thoughts, to stop telling yourself you’re not enough, to step into your own power with positivity.
The difference between an ordeal and an adventure is perspective. See the world like we used to when we were kids. Be adventurous. Shine on.
Image Credit: Taylor Harkness