There’s a kite outside the window. Bright, primary colours against a mostly grey sky. Despite this Southern Hemisphere winter, someone is making the most of the day. One of the great things about where I live is the way I’m frequently seeing sweet moments of everyday life. Families sharing a meal together, kids playing games, dogs chasing frisbees. I hope they’re having a good life.
We can’t be happy all the time, the human experience contains any and all possible emotions. You can’t live a full life while trying to avoid pain, or attain perfection. It sounds simple, obvious even, but it’s hard to really take it on board. Even self care can become a chore, just one more thing to check off the list so that we can try and be happy, be better. Over the past couple years I’ve had a few massive challenges thrown my way, it’s been confronting, but I can feel myself settling into my skin. I want my life to be full, and open- more than happy, I want it to be well lived. If you haven’t heard of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) then I’d suggest looking it up. I’ve found it really useful. Now, here are some things I would like to share with you, it’s a random assortment, but I hope they’ll give you something to think about.
Mistakes will be made. As a perfectionist with an overinflated sense of responsibility, I am hyper aware of every foolish, selfish, fear driven mistake I’ve ever made. Most painful are the ones that make you feel as though you’ve made no progress. You thought you knew better, and now you feel blindsided. I had a great conversation with a psychologist who said no one is above these mistakes. We can learn, and do better, but at the end of the day none of us are living life on a steady incline towards perfection. It’s an up and down and side to side kind of journey. A misstep, a relapse, a backslide- it’s part of being human. Don’t double-down on it by obsessing. Walk on.
You own your story. You can’t control what other people think of you, you can’t dictate how you’re remembered. But you don’t belong to them, you’re a whole seperate person. Please, don’t let someone else tell you who you are, or why you are you, or who you will be.
If you have 5 minutes spare, put some cheese on a platter. Or some fruit, or both. What I mean to say is, let your food be nourishing, fun, an experience just for you, or the people you live with. It doesn’t have to be a special day to do something nice. Making a nice occasion out of small moments is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. And the more you do it, the more of a habit it becomes. Taking a minute to inject a little joy bolsters against the frustrations and stresses of life.
Get a good calendar. Put things in it. I find it so much easier to get things done when I’ve put them in the calendar. Instead of looking around at all the things I want and need to do, I can just focus on the task that I’ve committed to for now. I especially suggest this for writers and creatives. Just commit to a half hour, you can always do more at other times!
Embrace the fluidity of life. I think the tendency is to think that all change is either good or bad, but often it’s just there. It’s ok. When we change, or people around us change, we might be trying to figure out how we should feel about it. We might be unsettled. It wasn’t until very recently, that I’ve found myself more comfortable with it. Change doesn’t have to equal unstable ground. It usually doesn’t. Life is messy, and mess can be great.
Practice breathing. Many people know that slow, steady breaths in and out can lower your heart rate. It helps with panic, anger and even physical pain. Of course it’s not a magic solution, it’s just a tool that can help you on your way. Something you might not have considered is that we all have different optimum breathing rates. For some people it’s in 1, 2, 3 and out 1, 2 3, for other it’s a much longer count. Take the time to see which feels best for you. Maybe you want to pause before each exhale. Find what works for you, and keep at it. The more naturally it comes, the better! Breathing exercises and meditation can be really boring, but I think it’s truly worth it. Think of it this way- every little bit helps.
So, there we have it! Some of this might strike a chord with you, or maybe it doesn’t, which is also fine. TL;DR Move, breathe, this too shall pass.
Recommended reading: The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris.