I have faced a few demons over the last few months.

Mostly personal ones, but also those on the outside; people who have robbed some joyfulness from my spirit, bringing to the surface some very painful learnings about the way that I perceive my life and the world in general.

Perhaps I am dramatising recent events and experiences, but in the heat of such emotions, one realises just how much impact the words of others have on your thoughts about who you are and subsequently, who you want to be.

Whilst I am grateful to have moved on from the woes of last year, 2017 has presented new kinds of challenges, enabling me to discover the many layers of human nature that confront us every day.

My eyes have been opened to the effects of loneliness and isolation, of overwhelm and idleness, paranoia and neglect. These somehow, being the symptoms of opportunity and entitlement; shedding light on the intriguing paradox of the privileged Western world.

Why in all of our abundance do we feel unworthy?

Why in all of our knowledge have we lost true meaning?

Why in all of creation do we choose to take life away?

Perhaps it is because we have been conditioned to believe that the world owes us something.

That because of our struggles, our pain and our fears, our harmful thoughts and actions are justified; that we’re entitled to react negatively to negative situations because we deserve that much.

It breaks my heart that mental health issues are on the rise, especially affecting younger people more each day. We must not only show empathy, but help educate and support one another in fighting the demons in our lives.

Having always been an emotionally sensitive person, it is only now in my thirties that I am learning to understand just how much anxiety impacts how I live and perceive myself. It is an overwhelming darkness in the mind and soul, playing our weaknesses out over and over, destroying every fibre of strength that we have to get up in the morning and deal with reality.

The danger is that we are now no longer the protagonists of our stories, but the victims. We expect to be saved by a world that in fact, doesn’t owe us anything.

All of the wonderful gifts of the universe – they’ve already been given to us out of love and for free. We can find them in the sky, the sea, the earth, the people who surround us.

Yet we desire more and more and the moment we have it all, we are left with an emptiness that still finds a way to tell us, “you deserve better.”

It is at this precise moment where we need to start looking at our lives not as a privilege, but as a blessing. As Fr Mike Schmitz says in the below video, “The proper response to that, is thank you.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vDixT0fYP8?ecver=1&w=560&h=315]

We are not defined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens to us and “the more gratitude, the more joy and the more absolute love we’ll experience in this life.”