10 Things That Will Bring You Back Down to Earth

Last week, we discussed the unfortunate but popular phenomenon among young professionals of letting success go to the head. Sometimes, we could all use a reality check to ensure we are true with what really matters in life so that we don’t become what may be affectionately referred to as “walking candy apples.” Here are ten things guaranteed to bring you back to earth, even if temporarily.  

Read the News, Look at the Figures
Too often we lament over the trivial, turning every day annoyances into “tragedies” as we get caught up in the superficial misdoings of our cities now and then. In the process, we may turn a blind eye to the bad things that are actually happening on our city streets and in the world in general. Read the news, and not just the sections relevant to your career. Did you know that an estimated 186,400 new cases of cancer or that 75,700 cancer deaths will occur in Canada in 2012? Or that one in 10 Canadians are living in poverty according to Statistics Canada? Puts your “problems” into perspective, doesn’t it? 

Realize You’re Lucky You Have a Job in the First Place
Before you waste anther second of your time and energy complaining about your job, your boss and lack of summer vacation time, remember that you’re lucky to have a job. Take a look around: there are people with university degrees who have been unemployed for months and grad students working as bartenders. The competition these days is stiff; within 24 hours that a job is posted on LinkedIn, it is not uncommon to see that close to 200 people applied. Canada had a 7.2 per cent unemployment rate as of June 2012. Be happy you’re not among that percentage.  

Re-Connect with a Family Member or Old Friend
Call up a family member or friend whom you haven’t spoken to in awhile, someone who knows you like no other and would appreciate your call. Nothing feels more like home than that prolonged phone call, filled with laughter and the exchange of stories – an occurrence much different than a hurried email, text message or surface-level comment on their pictures on Facebook. 

Visit Your Grandparents or Friend’s Children
Being around babies, young children and the elderly is good for the soul. The innocence of a child brings out a different side to even the most macho and emotionally stoic of all people. The joy children derive from the simplest things, like a Popsicle or splashing in a pool, makes you realize how many things you come to take for granted as you are exposed to the world. On the other end of the age spectrum, senior citizens quietly sit back and, with life wisdom, gain amusement in the younger generation and the things we tend to get caught up with in our daily young professional lives. Instead of dismissing them, talk to them. You could learn a thing or two about what is really going to matter by the time you’re their age. 

Take a Walk Down Memory Lane
Read an old love letter or the “autograph page” in your high school yearbook, sort through old pictures or home videos of times past or listen to a song that transports you back to that place of raw realness of your youth; a time before you became jaded, before life got “real” and when you at some point became the seen-it all, frequently impossible-to -impress young professional you are today. 

Re-Discover a Childhood Pastime
Do something that you used to love as a kid, whether that involves roller coasters, the circus, playing baseball or running through sprinklers. Losing inhibition and re-visiting your youth is a welcomed stark contrast to your otherwise controlled and calculated life, and one that will bring out the true essence of your character. 

Take a Trip that Matters
If your past few vacations have involved high-end beach resorts, lavish European trips that are far from your typical backpacking experience, or weekends in a fancy beach house, the most humbling thing you can do is to take a mission trip to a place in need of volunteers in the reconstructing of lives through organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Olive Branch or Free the Children. If any experience is bound to change your life, it is this one. 

Discover What it’s Like to be Them
Make a point to learn a little about someone who can offer you nothing professionally, socially or otherwise strategically. This could be your taxi driver, mailman, morning barista, TTC driver, garbage collector or someone in a decidedly more humble profession than yours. It will broaden your perception of people and lives outside of your YP circle, without whom the city wouldn’t function as an ecosystem. 

Live a Week on Poverty-Level Budget
You may realize money doesn’t buy happiness, but now that you’re making money, have you forgotten that not having money and having to struggle financially is a major source of difficulty for a lot of people?  Try, if you can, to spend less than $100 (including transportation, meals, parking and Thursday night après-work drinks) between Monday and the end of the workday on Friday. To you, it may seem impossible, but people have to live like that all the time without the luxury of choosing to. And yes, you’ll likely have to pass up group dinners, dates and drinks in the process. 

Watch a Movie that will Make you Cry
Watch a movie that you know will be a good tearjerker, whether one you have already seen (Ghost or the Notebook, perhaps?) or one you have been warned to watch armed with tissue. Crying puts you in a vulnerable state, where your guard is down and is a reminder that you can still feel things – an important check we could all use from time to time.