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!

 

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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.

 

Day 58 – The Results of Hope

Today I’m grateful that hope isn’t a useless idea.

If you read yesterday’s entry, I had a rough day on Friday.  But yesterday I was able to find some hope.

And it turned out to be a fantastic day.

After studying the Stoics, I had decided that I agreed with Seneca (I think it was Seneca) that hope isn’t a good thing, because it indicates that you aren’t accepting your current situation as it is and loving it.

That follows logically, if you look at it in a vacuum.  If the goal is Amor Fati, then we aren’t practicing it if we need to have hope.

But guess what.  The key word in there is practice.  We aren’t going to undo years of conditioning in a week (or 58 days).  And the thing that can put us back on track?

Hope.

It did for me yesterday.  It helped me to remember that even though I’m in the middle of a depressive episode, shit always always always changes.  To be hopeless, to believe that when things are bad they will always be bad and we might as well pack it in, is silly.  That’s not just not accepting reality – it’s denying it.

So today I’m grateful that I’ve learned (once again) that it’s OK to hope.  No, I’m grateful to know that it’s necessary to hope when we need to.

 

Day 57 – Hope

Today I’m grateful for hope.

It was a rough one yesterday. Spent most of the day in bed, feeling like shit mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I was just a big old depressive pile.

The worst part about it were the thoughts about my own inadequacies as a human being. Stupid was the biggest one. Useless was a close second. Weak brought it in for the trifecta.

Luckily, at some point while I was lying in bed this morning I remembered to just move with intention. Fuck feeling better, and who cares if I’m stupid, useless, and weak. Pick a tiny goal and move toward it. I don’t have to feel better to move. Life isn’t about happiness (which we have very little control over).  Life is about fulfillment, which we have a lot more control of.

So I moved. The only goal was to get out of bed. I accomplished that goal.

I also read a bit of Jocko Wilink’s “Discipline Equals Freedom.” Many (most?) of my problems are the direct result of a lack of discipline. And the parts that I read were about just starting. They were about moving… now.

After moving, another thought – these feelings are temporary. When I get into this headspace, it’s easy to get into the “It’s always like this and it will always be like this.” That’s a load of bullshit. It isn’t always like this – sometimes I feel like that, but other times I’m full of energy, motivated, excited for the future.  I may still be stupid, useless, and weak (well, not useless), but who cares? That’s called being human – and if you are a human being and don’t think you are stupid and weak in some areas… well, then you are stupid – or crazy.

So now I have hope.  And I’m grateful that I went though all of that. It reinforced a truth that I keep on forgetting – all things are temporary, including my moods.

Especially my moods.

 

Day 56 – Tired

Today I’m grateful that I have trouble maintaining any form of personal development because I get so tired.  And since I know that, I can do something about it.

I know that I get wrapped up in my own brain and wear out my mental energy fighting with myself – “Am I doing the right thing?”  “Should do this other thing instead?” “Is it even possible for me to have anything resembling success?”

I already have a lot of things in my life that resemble success, but I also have a lot of things that resemble failure.  Maybe what I’m accomplishing now is all that I can accomplish.  It’s possible, but since there’s no way for me to know unless I keep trying… I’ll keep trying.