How to Fix my Life
In my journey of writing everyday for a year I have been writing about everything I can. Initially, there was a good amount of clawing around for concepts I could expand on with a semblance of intelligence. There is still an element of grasping in the dark on certain days, but overall, I see writing as more of a privilege.
I get to write about exactly what I want to, and if I’m going to be in something then I better get all in it.
Nobody knows that I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve known it since I read “Hatchet” in fourth grade. Though, I never told myself of my desire until this year. Nineteen years later. Through the intricacies of group thinking and conveyor belt education, I learned a fancy trick. I managed to tell myself that life would happen to me, and I better just go with its flow.
This perspective is nonsense and poison. Of course things will happen to me in life. But instead of treating myself like an inanimate chess piece, I have learned to watch the flow, maneuver in it, and add my own flourish. Once you are in control of your vessel you’ll note that there are a myriad of tributaries, currents, eddies, and flows to participate in.
The hard times
Yes, there will be issues. We all intuitively know this from a young age. People, ailments, meteorites could cause you grief. If not those things, then something else. Maybe you’ll even invent issues to obfuscate happiness from yourself.
When the problems begin to mount up, even if my negative perception is the only real problem, there are three cures. I write, I exercise, or I gain knowledge.
I’ll read excerpts from the “War of Art” or “Turning Pro” by Steven Pressfield to make me stop my pity party. Long exhausting walks while listening to a three hour Tim Ferriss interview always gets me feeling inspired. Running side-splitting sprints is always a nice kick in the ass to get my brain back in line with my body. And finally just writing my thoughts out. Connecting my brain through the nerves to my fingers is therapy in itself. I find that often what I think I’m thinking is not what I’m thinking at all. Dig?
Sometimes only one of those options works, sometimes all three, it really depends on the current malaise. Basically the key is to get something done. Do not fall into the negative feedback loop.
Also, the blues. Yes, the music, it works.
Shut up time
I have also prescribed myself with a daily dose of shut up time. Some might call it meditation, but there’s too much of a connotation of special pants, incense, and chanting with that word. I prefer Tara Brach’s perspective on shut up time (meditation) as “evolution’s strategy to bring out our full potential.”
To be clear, I don’t think that people who don’t meditate are evolutionarily inferior. I think that I make more impulsive and rash decisions if I don’t sit for ten to twenty minutes in the morning, see where my thoughts and emotions are at, then act with better information on myself. I cannot stress how much making the routine of daily shut up time has changed my thought process in a short time.
The goal is to have better control over my emotions. I am only beginning to realize the power of this. I am not implying that I am going to go around like a Vulcan flaunting smug logic over everyone.
Emotions are beautiful, even the sad ones. The idea is to let your emotions inform you not control you.
When in doubt, list it out
So, every morning, with cleared thoughts, I write down two or three very actionable things I will accomplish that day. I try not to make them inane things that were already likely to happen, like exercise or get groceries. But rather, I write down achievable actions that will put me at least one percent closer to who I want to be. Plus, after each is completed, I get the very visceral pleasure of checking it off.
The checking off of items is only a symbolic gesture in my religion of getting shit done. There must be real measurable results from completing my day’s list. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be writing an entire novel, half a percent of honest work directed towards an end has a compounding effect after a few weeks. And if I feel exceptional one day and complete much more than assumed, great, but that doesn’t let me off the hook for tomorrow.
My participation in Praxis is the culmination of all these varied points concerning my productivity, mental outlook, and passions. I have finally removed enough of my self imposed restraints to create value on this planet. Vague, sure, but I’m just getting started. The lists will get more specific, the actions more tangible, and the results more delicious.