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.

 

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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 51 – Failure

Today I’m grateful that I failed in my goal to write here every morning.

It’s been 17 days – on day one I failed to reach my goal, and for the sixteen days after that I failed to get back on the horse.

Failure isn’t a dirty word.  It’s a reality – I planned on doing one thing, and by my own actions I didn’t get it done.  I failed.

I’m grateful that I can face the reality of the situation, and that I can learn from it.

I’m jumping back on the horse today.  But I’m not just jumping on and riding it the way that I did last time – I’m adjusting the saddle, changing how snug the stirrups are, communicating with the horse a bit differently.  If I just hop back on and ride the same way that I rode before, I’ll fall off again.  As I first learned in AA – I’m not going to do the same thing and expect different results.

I’m grateful that I learned that.

These are the changes that I’m making:

  1. The biggest adjustment has to do with the direction of the blog.  The purpose of this blog was to Amor Fati – to develop the habit of not just accepting, but loving my fate.  Loving everything that happens to me and everything that is currently in my life.  I was only focusing on being grateful for the “bad”, since that’s the part of my life that needed that most work – the positive stuff is easy to love.  Now, I’m going to acknowledge the positive as well, especially since the “good” things in our lives outnumber the “bad” by at least a hundred to one.  Our brains are wired to look for what’s wrong.  I think that the theory that it’s an evolutionary trait is right, since for our ancestors it was much more important to keep an eye out for the lion than to appreciate the beauty of the sunset.  Although it still exists, in modern, developed countries physical threats are a much smaller problem, regardless of what the news tries to tell us.  My life requires that I appreciate the good on a regular basis, if only to combat the negatives that are shoved down our throats on a regular basis so that people with power can feast on the foie gras of our fear.  (Wow, Lyman, quite the rant there… take it out or leave it in?  Leave it in for honesty’s sake.)
  2. Sometimes it’s the people in our lives that we end up not being grateful for.  To call them out publicly because of a small, silly, private slight or annoyance would cause misunderstanding and harm, and I want live my life causing as little harm as possible (I’ve already caused more than my share).  So I was avoiding writing about these things but still stewing about them, and therefore not doing the exercise honestly.  I still need work in that area, but if I choose to write about it, it will go in a private journal.
  3. I’m going to get away from using the word “thanksgiving.”  I’ve been starting most entries with the phrase “Today I’m thankful for…”; I thought I had to because that’s the name of the fricking blog.  That doesn’t feel right to me, and never has.  “Today I’m grateful for…” feels better.

I’m grateful that I’ve identified these issues, and that I can implement them and move forward.

So, to recap – today I’m grateful that I failed, I’m grateful that I got back on the horse, and I’m grateful that I’ve identified the problems that caused that failure.

Fate permitting, I’ll be back tomorrow.  I hope you’ll join me.

 

Day 40 – I Have No Real Challenges

This morning I give thanks that I have nothing to force myself to be grateful for.

My life is fantastic.  And it’s only going to up from here (even when it goes “down”).  Right now, I can’t think of a single thing that needs to change for me to be happy.  I would prefer that some things be different (which means I haven’t hit full Amor Fati yet), but none of those things have any impact on my happiness and sense of fulfillment right now.

So today I’m grateful for being so grateful.  It’s a good feeling, and a great way to start off the new year.

 

Day 36 – Still Don’t Want To

Today I’m thankful that I still don’t want to do this daily “thanksgiving for things I wouldn’t normally be thankful for” blog.

I’ve written this before.  And I’m writing it again.  And I’m going to keep writing it as long as I’m feeling it.

Because I want to be grateful for everything in my life.  And even when I have nothing to write but “I don’t wanna”, just thinking about writing in here keeps me focused on all of the things that I’m already grateful for – my wife, my job, my home, my dog… all of those people and things that make my life the amazing miracle that it is today.

So I’m going to keep writing – whether I feel like it or not.

 

Day 35 – Seriously? A 0 Degree Low?

Today I’m grateful for the 13 degrees it is outside – and that the the temperature isn’t expected to climb above freezing for the foreseeable future.

I had a really difficult time with the cold the first year I moved back to New England from Southern California.  I’d constantly have the line from The Mamas and the Papas “California Dreamin'” running through my head – “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray.”

Right now, it’s 13 degrees.  It could be 12, or 2, or -12.  There’s something to be grateful for.  Even better – I know that no matter what the temperature, it’s all temporary.  Eventually we’ll end up in a position where we are tilted toward the sun, and it will all be over.

And I’m no longer California Dreamin’.  I’m dreamin’ of loving where I am, and I’m getting better at doing that.  That’s something to be thankful for.

 

 

Day 28 – Having to Dig

Today I’m grateful for having to really dig for something new that I need to work on being grateful for.

I know I’ve written that before… but it’s still pretty amazing to me.  Maybe it’s because, rather than using this for it’s intended purpose, I’m worried too much about the people who are reading it.

This blog’s intended purpose was to keep me on track with learning how to Amor Fati – how to love everything in my life, no matter what.  Thanksgiving, the day when give thanks for those things in our lives that we are grateful for, was it’s beginning.  But why limit that to one day a year?  And why limit it to just those things that obvious?

The problem with doing it publicly on a regular basis is that one starts to think about the audience.  So I think “No, people have already read that… I can’t write about that again.”  But if I’m still working on loving the cold, or getting up for work, or my crappy car… then I should still be writing about the the cold, or getting up for work, or my crappy car.  Until I’m truly grateful for these things.  Until I love them.

Here’s something to be grateful for – the fact that I’m still able to work this stuff out in my head.