During the summer of 2007 I had a job that was so demanding – I was constantly on the verge of curling up in the foetal position and declaring ‘game over’.
It wasn’t that the job wasn’t fun, it was. Or that it was boring, it wasn’t – just that what they made us do was borderline sadism.
I worked on the beach as a deckchair assistant and basically that means walking around all day taking money from the old people and the lazy. Sounds easy right? That’s what I thought, initially.
Yet try spending 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, walking on the sand under the summer sun.
Yes, ouch. Great t-shirt tan though.
I tell a lie actually – it was 8 hours walking on the beach and 4 hours running around putting several hundred deckchairs, sunbeds and wind-breaks back in the lockup before we could go home.
At the end of every week my legs would be begging for mercy and my back… well, what was left of it, had already given up.
I was 4 weeks into my contract when I began to have doubts as to whether I could continue in this job for the rest of the summer. It was making me genuinely depressed. I started to resent the sun for it meant a long and arduous day ahead of me. Rain would be a relief – a chance to sit down or maybe an opportunity to finish early.
What kind of weirdo begs for rain? Me. I was that weirdo.
I had a realisation.
One particularly sunny morning, I stood at the bus stop going through my usual routine of ‘cloud spotting’ when something slapped me in the face.
I spend 12 hours a day outdoors, meeting hundreds of people a day, ON THE BEACH – and getting paid for it!
Did I mention it was hard work? It was essentially 12 hours of cardio every day. I had never been so fit.
All that vitamin D. All that exercise. Why the hell wasn’t I happy?
In that split second my mind changed and I realised how lucky I actually have it. That day was awesome – I tried to engage in as much conversation as possible – tried to flirt with as many bikini clad girls as possible – took time out on my lunch break to sunbathe instead of running for the nearest cave to hide from the world.
I began to look for the positives instead of focusing on the negatives.
It’s ridiculously easy to pick out the parts of our lives that might need changing but often this comes at the expense of acknowledging the things we should actually be grateful for.
Over the last couple of years I have lived in a part of town that seems to attract a lot of homeless people. They’re quite easy to spot – it’s the people that I tend to run away from when they lurch towards me like a zombie requiring their daily fix of brains.
I shouldn’t think this way, but it really annoys me, especially as sometimes they will try to make you feel bad for not greasing their palms with silver.
I remember this homeless guy who used to ‘live’ at the beach. We nicknamed him ‘Jose’ for his resemblance to Jose Mourinho.
Every day without fail he would stumble down the promenade, fighting the seagulls for the right to eat the discarded half eaten burgers (you couldn’t eat a whole one, it wasn’t safe) and then he would collapse on the sand and sleep off the inevitable food poisoning.
I would watch him and wonder what his story was – where he came from and why he had nowhere to live.
It’s at times like this that you do begin to realise how great your life actually is.
Sure you might not be ‘happy’ with your lot but being in a bad mood because the life you chose is bringing you down is nothing compared to the struggles that some people go through.
There are people who haven’t worked in 2 years who would love to have a minimum wage job.
There are people who cannot find a girlfriend or a boyfriend who would kill to be in a bickering relationship.
There are people who have just been diagnosed with cancer who would love nothing more than have their health worries stop at being 10lbs overweight.
There are people like ‘Jose’ who would do anything to have an annoying flatmate who stumbles home at 3am, waking you up in the process – because it would mean he has a roof over his head.
Self-help and personal development should be a side dish to the main course that is your life.
Don’t let it take over who you are. Don’t continually focus on the negative aspects of your life for you will miss out on the great things.
Every day take 2 minutes out of whatever it is that you do, and just look around. Look at how the trees are swaying in the wind, watch the birds as they go about their daily business, feel your heart as it works to keep you alive.
Become present and clear your thoughts. Focus on the here and now – not on your stresses.
You’re alive, you have your health, you have a roof over your head, you have friends and you are you.
Stop focusing on what you don’t have and take a second to realise what you do have.
You’re luckier than you think.
Wow, this is one of the best I’ve read in a long while. Awesome way to tie in your story and just… Wow! Bravo!
Vincent recently posted..How to Be Confident, Meet People, and Influence Others
Hey thanks, it means a lot! I have been thinking a lot about that summer recently, mainly as I want to start hitting the beach a lot more, and I wondered why that job and those few months were so awesome. I think it was because it was a time where I was genuinely calm and then I remembered that day at the bus stop where I snapped out of my mood.
I was in that mood again this morning and writing that post has helped me remember the good stuff I’ve got going on.
Wow, great way to see life. I do understand though that being in the sun all day might not seem that funny – but yes, you were really lucky. I have been sitting in my desk for the last 8 hours and yes I’d love to be in the sun. But every night I remember how lucky I am to actually have a job, and family 🙂 Plus I get time to comment on your blog, how awesome that is!
I’ll be following Jamie. Btw do you have a Youtube channel? I’ve had a guitar for almost 10 years but only recently I’ve decided to boost my learning and somehow get good enough to play for like half an hour in the street this summer 🙂 – just for fun 🙂
Nicolas Daudin recently posted..Positive Quote Of The Day : Let Your Smile Change The World
Hi Nicolas, I don’t know how you manage to work in an office, you’re braver than me – but yes, having a computer in front of you means you get to read strange blogs 🙂
I have a youtube channel with various older videos playing guitar but no tuition channel. http://www.youtube.com/user/jimmyjimjam/videos
Thanks for the comment!
Ok Jaime, thanks, I’ll check out your youtube channel.
How do I manage to work in an office… well, I don’t know either. Right now I feel like killing my workmate cause lately he has been a total asshole 😀 so, yes, i understand your question… but don’t worry, I have a plan to stop working in an office sooner or later, and only work from home, hopefully with reduced hours…
Nicolas Daudin recently posted..Positive Quote Of The Day : Let Your Smile Change The World
Haha I had way too many colleagues like that and I’m sure some of them thought that about me too. Maybe he isn’t happy with his job and he’s letting it get the better of him – well that was my excuse for causing nearly every manager I worked for to hate me! 🙂
Working from home is the way forward, but only if you can motivate yourself. It took me a while to get going after the initial boost in productivity. You’ll have ups and downs but the trick is to keep going. Like your running advice.
How did you get to be so wise so young? LOVE to read your stuff.
Hey Maz, I’m not THAT young haha. I’m 32 but I do have the face of a 12 year old boy..
Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog!
LOVE this one, Jamie! Really puts things into perspective (eugh, so cliche, but true) Now I’m going to get off my arse, do the washing up and the hoovering (remind me how good my life is again? haha) and stop wanting to kill myself cos my children are doing my head in – but realise how bloody lucky I am to have such beautiful kids in the first place!
See you soon xxx
any words of wisdom to a 25 year old who just quit / lost their first ever job …
Hi sure, just have a look at these – http://www.psycholocrazy.com/6-things-ive-learned-from-6-months-without-a-job and http://www.psycholocrazy.com/how-to-find-your-passion
Hi, came here from the footer on your latest Cracked article. Great article, fantastic post here and a nice blog in all. Just wanted to say hey and thanks for the laughs and good read, really.
Thanks man, it means a lot!
Thanks for inspiring words on this site, and a great cracked-article about fatherhood going bananas. Wish you good luck and all the best!
Cheers! OJ, Sola*, Norway
*) Sola means “the sun”by the way – some standup comedian of old times must have given the name. Despite the best beaches in Norway, it rains all the time here by the Atlantic ocean. Well not always. It’s been a great summer, and today the sun shines 3rd day in a row. Actually the name is one of a few really old local names nobody knows the meaning of anymore, remnants from an older tounge before the german tribes came along (not meaning wwII by the way, much older than that. LOL and behold!). Cheers again!