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.