Things that make me better

I was doing well. I really thought I was. Through January, with the help of some new methods of organization and a friend acting as a coach (which is a story I need to tell sometime), I felt like I was getting on top of things. Getting stuff done, moving forward. I was positive, I was actually happy a good bit of the time.

I think I got ambitious, not helped by a really busy couple of weeks. They were busy with good things, good people, hard and productive thinking, but at the end of them, I was completely zonked. There was a day when I really didn’t do anything except sit and stare at whatever my eyes landed on. Ever since, I’ve been struggling to get back to that place of happy positivity and productiveness. I’ve had a couple of really hard, bleak days in the last two weeks, have lost nearly all my sense of schedule and purpose, and am fighting bitterly with discouragement. I thought I was moving forward,, and now it seems like I’m nowhere.

Sigh.

I prayed about it this morning, writing out my worries and disillusionment in my scribbeldy notebook. I asked God for insight, because I really do want to stop having these depressed patches, to be productive, and even maybe happy sometimes. There’s a reason I’m desperate for that going forward feeling. For me, mental and emotional health really means going forward, in lots of different ways. I need to experience progress and change. Even in my hobbies; there’s a reason I really enjoy making things. Because you start, and progress, and then there’s an end. I need to feel the progress and to have actually, honest-to-goodness finishes sometimes.

It’s just that change in life is not easy to see, a lot of the time. Change in myself is really hard to see, and it never, ever happens fast enough to suit me. If I can’t see that things are changing, I just lose hope. I lose hope way too fast. I think nothing is happening at all.

Big life stuff is never going to happen fast enough to suit me, and I can’t expect that to change in order to make me happier. So I have to find other ways to be happy and hopeful. Maybe there are ways I haven’t found yet of showing myself regular progress, or maybe I’ve got ways to do that at hand already and I’m not making use of them (it occurs to me that I have a long series of scribbeldy notebooks, and a lot of what I scribble about in them is whatever I’m currently struggling with — but it’s extremely rare for me to go back and read any of the past ones, to see that maybe I’m not fighting with the same things anymore).

There are other things I can do too, though, not things that make for obvious progress but things that just make me better. Sometimes happier, sometimes calmer or stronger, sometimes more faithful to what I believe. I didn’t always know how to do this for myself, and I’ve come a long way in having a list of such things to do. Where I often fall down is in remembering to put them to use. But it’s early days. I haven’t known all of these things for long. I haven’t actually put them into a concrete list until now.

Getting enough sleep
Eating regularly
Drinking lots of water
Exercising
Reading
Prayer
Writing in my notebook
Writing for publication
Staying in touch with people
Thinking about someone else, especially to help them
Really stopping to absorb details and moments in life
Facing down something scary
Listening to the right music at the right time
Singing
Dancing, moving, inhabiting my body

This is my list. It might not be complete — I hope it actually isn’t, in that I keep discovering things to put on it. But this is a base of things that really help me stay on an even keel.

To help myself understand the value of them, I’m going to write a series of posts about them. In explaining for other people why these things help me, I’ll help myself sink the awareness of them more deeply into my own mind — and maybe I’ll give some other people ideas for what they can do to make themselves better.

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