My birthday celebration and experiment

My last post centered on my renewed commitment to reconnect—with myself and those I love.  These past couple of weeks I’ve worked at living this commitment.   It has not been particularly…romantic.  One of my long-held mantras, “Fake it ‘til you make it” has been a guiding force in my daily attempt to recalibrate.  I felt uncomfortable as I worked against the grain of old habits. To resist the urge to just give in, I became very disciplined:  I ran, ate well, meditated, unplugged.  I spent time outdoors even when—especially when—I just wanted to escape into kids TV, work, email, and social media.  Slowly, over these past days and weeks I am feeling myself again.  I am feeling whole and connected.   

One thing I’ve learned during this time is that I have to work for happiness.  And I do so most in the face of pain.  When I’m feeling happy, I tend to grow content, complacent, and lazy—all of which gradually breed feelings of pain, struggle, emptiness.  And thus, a relentless cycle. 

I began journaling as a child and at about age eight, writing had become an important process of meaning-making in my life.  I wrote to make sense of the world.  I knew then what Joan Didion so aptly stated: “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”   Yet, even as important as the process of writing was to me, I wrote only when I was struggling—only when I needed to.  (Yes, my journals basically document my ongoing existential crises—quite the read!).  So, my sense of lacking inspires  a deeper reflection, subsequently generating  connection, wholeness, happiness. 

I’ve grown weary of this cycle.  Why rely on feelings of lacking to inspire happiness-making behaviors?  Why wait to feel miserable to work to feel happy?  What can I do to be proactive?  My contemplations led me to old and new friends also seeking answers to similar questions such as Thoreau’s Walden, Rubin’s The Happiness Project, Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.

 After some thought on this, here’s where I am: I realize that I can’t control my feelings.  I can control my behavior, which in turn does greatly influence my feelings.  And some behaviors are more important than others, play different roles than others. I know that for me, self-reflection and the process of meaning-making is key to everything else.   When I’m doing this, I feel more happy.

So, why not commit to doing this?  I mean, be really disciplined about it?  I’m betting that if I do, I will feel more happy, more often.  So, I’m doing this.  As I once read from Trollope,  “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.”  I’ve lived this in different ways before—now I’m focusing on daily reflection.   I’m realistic;  so to make this as easy and feasible as possible, I’m opening myself up to media other than just writing.  I’m guessing I’ll use photography a lot.  The point is to take a moment to reflect on what’s going on for me, how I’m making sense of my life.  It doesn’t really matter how I do this, just that I do.  To help hold myself accountable, I’m going to document these daily wonderings here, on my blog.

I figure now’s the time.  I only have one more year (exactly) until…I’m forty

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