Day 4 – My Stepdad

Today I’m grateful for my stepdad.

My mom passed away a few months ago. While she was alive I never really connected with my stepdad. Not because of animosity or anything like that, but because of the physical distance between the two of them and me. Even when my mom got really sick, we began to communicate more on a practical level, but nothing more than that.

There are still practical things that we are working on because of my mom’s estate, but I feel like maybe we are connecting more on a human level – or at least I hope we are on that road. He’s a good guy, and I’m grateful that my mom had him for the last 20 years.

I haven’t been good at forming or keeping relationships going (my wife is the one exception to that.) But I want to get better. I’d like that to change. And he’s one person that I would like to form a better one with.

Today I’m grateful for my stepdad.

 

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Day 3 – New Car

Today I’m grateful for the new (well, new to us) car that we were able to get a few days ago. Today we’re going down to CT to drop off the old one. It served us well over the last year and a half, but it really has reached the end of it’s life. I’m grateful for the opportunity to use it, and grateful for the opportunity to replace it.

 

Day 2 – ACT

Today I’m grateful for ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). It has helped me more than any other therapy that I can think of to keep my thoughts and emotions from derailing my days.

Learning to recognize my thoughts for what they are (just thoughts) and how to “defuse” from them (stop seeing them as reality) has been a godsend in managing my depression and anxiety. To a lesser but still significant degree, it has also kept me from getting too “high” – I can recognize even positive thoughts as just thoughts, not reality.

It really reminds me of an idea from Stoicism – things that upset us aren’t the things themselves, but just an impression.

 

Day 1 – Up Again

Today I’m grateful for the proverb “fall down seven times, get up eight.”

I’m also grateful that I realized something else about that proverb. When we fall, it’s only after moving forward, either a lot or a little. Which means that when we get up again, it’s usually after making some kind of progress. We tend to catastrophize it when we fail – instead we should be patting ourselves on the back for learning something, shift our direction, and recognize that we are always making progress as long as we are keeping our target in mind and moving.

 

Day 3 – I’m Up!

Today I’m grateful that I woke up at 4:30 am this morning.

At first I wasn’t sure what happened – my alarm was set for 5 (I thought.) But I ended up having 2 separate alarms set, one on the native clock app and one on a sleep tracker I have. The sleep tracker was set for 5, but the native app was set for 4:30.

I’m grateful for that little mistake – I missed out on a half hours sleep, but gained an extra half hour in the day.

 

Day 2 – My Laptop

Today I’m grateful for the laptop I have.

I complain about it way too much. It’s a little older and slower than most (kind of like me… ha!) but it gets the job done (kind of like me). It’s really amazing just how much it can do. As a simple example, right now it’s coding the letters that I’m typing and sending them off to be read by a complete stranger that, just 100 years ago, I would never have been able to make contact with this easily.

Seriously – how cool is that!

 

Day 1 – Goals and Values

I’ve really been digging ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) lately.  I’m mostly consuming it through the work of Dr. Russ Harris and his book “The Happiness Trap.”

One of the lessons that makes sense to me is that Values > Goals. Writing here every morning is a goal – but what value (or values) does that goal serve? And is that (are they) one of my values?

Persistence is a value – that’s something important to me and something that this goal can serve.  But any goal could be said to serve that value – it’s a given. If you don’t need some kind of persistence, it’s probably a pretty weak goal.

Gratitude is said to assist in mental health.  Improving and maintaining my mental health is a value. So maintaining a regular gratitude practice would be a good goal to strive for. Making it more specific, reflecting on one thing that I’m grateful for each day. Even more specific, writing it down helps to clarify it.

So, writing down something that I’m grateful for each day serves the value of maintaining and improving my mental health.

So why a blog? Why do this publicly? What’s the value there?

Acceptance by others.

It’s difficult for me to share this, but I want other human beings to accept me. It feels weak to admit that, but it’s true. Rationally, I know that there’s nothing wrong with that desire – it’s perfectly natural, probably the result of millions of years of evolution. If our ancestors weren’t accepted by others and were banished by the tribe, they were as good as dead. So the desire is hardwired into my brain.

But does this blog really provide that? Maybe in some small ways, and maybe I’m minimizing how much it really does. But it sure doesn’t hurt it, as far as I can see.

Maybe “Relationship” is a better word for that value. I’ve already got acceptance – no one has thrown me out in the cold lately. But does writing this stuff publicly assist in building and maintaining relationships with other human beings? It could.

Another value that comes to mind is Contribution. I want to give something useful to others. Is writing about this publicly adding anything useful to the universe? Is there even a possibility that it is?

Of course there’s a possibility, even if I can’t see it now. Even if it’s just inspirational enough to kick start someone else’s gratitude practice.

So there are four values (Persistence, Mental Health, Relationships, and Contribution) that the goal of writing here every day for 365 days serves.

I think I’ll continue. And today I’m grateful that no matter how many times I fall, as long as I’m still breathing I can get back up and move forward.