Only 3 more sleeps till I fly back to my home country of South Africa, to where most of my family and extended family still live. I am so excited and can't wait to board that plane! We have lived in Australia for just over 8 years now....a fact that I still can't seem to wrap my thoughts around! (It only takes a glimpse at photos of my boys during those first weeks here to confirm this lapse in time.)
So, how do we go about 'living-so-far-away-from-those-we-love' while still staying happy?
Is there any way to do it well? It certainly is not always easy, even when you know it is by your own choice that you live where you do.
There is a quote I love by William Shakespeare that goes like this:
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Yes....the principles of positive thinking were even around in the 1500's!
Mind you, they've actually been around since the first century! (and most likey earlier too)
In Phillipians 4, Paul instructs the people of Phillipi to rejoice always, to not be anxious (about anything!), and to be mindfully grateful by always giving thanks.
Yes, Always! (meaning.....all the time!) I'd call that positive thinking!
He then goes on to say that we are to think about things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy! It doesn't stop there though. He goes on to explain that the reason we should intentionally keep our minds focussed on these things is so that we can have peace. .....And not just any peace either.....this will give a peace from God that is beyond our understanding. In other words, a peace that doesn't make a lick of sense when we look around at our lives. A peace that will guard our hearts and our minds.
A peace we can experience, even though our loved ones live on the other side of the world!
I am still often blown away by just how powerful our thoughts actually are. And not only our thoughts, but also the words we use.
Dan Baker, PhD, sais this in his book What Happy People Know:
"The Power of Language and Stories:
We don't describe the world we see; we see the world we describe. Language has the power to alter perception. We think in words. These words have the power to limit us or to set us free; they can frighten us or evoke our courage. Similarly, the stories we tell ourselves about our own life eventually become our life. We can tell healthy stories or horror stories. The choice is ours."
So let's take a look at how our thoughts and words can make all the difference when it comes to being happy, even when we live so far away from the people we love the most, our families.
I can think of a hundred reasons why living far away is so hard, or I can choose to think about how GRATEFUL I am that:
I live in the era of Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp and FaceBook.
I can Skype over a cup of tea or a glass of wine for as long as I want....and it's free!
I have family who long to stay connected just as much as I do, and we probably have more regular (weekly) contact than we did when we lived in the same country!
I have seen my parents every year, and each visit lasts a few weeks. (Ultra fortunate!)
I live in an era where flying internationally is no big deal! I can get back home in 24hours if needed. (again, I know, ultra fortunate! Yes I'm grateful!)
It doesn't matter where I live, I am loved just the same!
When I set foot back in my home country, I am greeted with huge bear hugs, loads of laughter, tears of joy, and mountains of love.
So, yes, I do believe that living so far away from loved ones is neither good nor bad, it's our thinking that makes it so.