The greatest compliment anyone has ever paid to me:
“You’re always the same. No matter what group of people you’re with, you never change who you are.”
“I don’t know how to be anyone else.”
2016 is nearing its end. I’m not one to make resolutions for the new year. My track record for keeping new year resolutions is abysmal so I quit making them some time ago. But January 1 is a good marker to remind myself to ruminate on the last twelve months. So, like anyone who favors self improvement, I analyze the previous year and come up with two or three goals to accomplish for the year ahead. Usually they revolve around finances and fitness, such as: paying off credit cards, eating healthier, having “X” amount of money in savings, going to the gym at least 3 times a week…blah, blah. All of those things are smart ideas. All of those things are improvements to one’s life. Are they the keys to a happier life? Possibly.
But this year, after giving some thought to what I’m going to try to do differently in 2017, I’ve settled on these three things:
1. Downsize everything.
2. Do creative things.
3. Give compliments.
I’m not sure how easy this one’s going to be but I really feel like I’ll be the better for it. And I bet it’ll take me the whole year to do it. But my plan to downsize will entail a whole bunch of discarding unneeded clutter such as old paperwork, statements, old clothes and shoes, stuff I thought I’d need but never did, knick-knacks that never got unpacked from my last move, books I’ll never read again, old pots, pans and dishes…you get the picture. I just want to focus on keeping what’s essential, plus the things that add value to my life, and get rid of the rest. Do I really need a TV in every room? No. Do I need three computers? No. As a single person who rents, do I need to live in a 3-bedroom, 2.5 bathroom condo? No. These are all examples of unessential things and a byproduct of living in our current American consumer-based culture. Now if you asked me if I need all the vintage audio equipment, my answer is a solid YES. Although unessential, they are things that bring me joy and therefore add value to my life.
DO CREATIVE THINGS
In a nutshell, this one is me trying to reconnect with my younger self. Back in my 20s and 30s I was studying fine art in college and being creative was who I was. I remember those days as being so satisfying and fulfilling. My mind was full, different thoughts and ideologies were exciting and making art was my focus. During those times, coming up with interesting and meaningful images seemed effortless. Now when I try to come up with an interesting visual, I simply draw a blank. I suspect it’s because I’m less in touch with myself, and I’ve become fearful of representing the true nature of that person via artful expression. Then when I chose to focus on my profession, all those things that come along with adulthood descended upon me. The majority of my waking hours was focused on work. With more money comes more financial responsibilities. With more responsibilities comes more stress. And it perpetuates itself, continually turning like a merry-go-round, only less merry.
Although I like my job and the people I work with, it’s just not fulfilling, which is why “Do Creative Things” is on the list.
This is one that I think will be difficult at first because of my shy nature, but has the potential to be the most rewarding. I feel like this one can go in the “Simple Acts Of Kindness” category. Anything that one can do that is a benefit to another person, even something as simple as making them smile, is always the most rewarding, right? I know it’s a small gesture but spreading good energy and warm feelings only generates more of the same. I truly believe that happiness spreads like fire: it multiplies and gains abundance without diminishing the source.
So these are the things I’m going to try to accomplish for 2017. Perhaps with focus and a bit of luck, you’ll be reading an insightful post from me next year recounting how successfully it all went. Or perhaps not. Whatever the outcome it will be a learning experience. For those of you who are also planning some self-improvement goals, or new year resolutions if you prefer that label, I wish you the best!
An email from: XXXXX XXXXXXX
Date: Saturday, 11/26/11
At the end of each year I write a few goals for the following year. I pulled out my notebook this morning so I could begin this process. To prepare I reread what I have written for the last several years and reflected on how close I have come towards accomplishing my targets. It was then that I picked up my pen and wrote something which felt both profound and startling accurate. I wrote, “Find a reason to live.”
I hope this doesn’t sound overly dramatic or alarming. I don’t mean to shock or disquiet you. I share my writing because I know that you will accept it in the spirit in which it is given and that you may understand and perhaps empathize. However, where I go from here, I’m not exactly sure. How does one find a reason to live? At least my writing has given me a better understanding of my apparent “problem.”
More to be revealed. What are your reasons for getting up every day?
My response: Saturday, 11/26/11
When I first read your entry I was a little surprised. “Find a reason to live” packs a powerful punch since it is a…requirement, I guess, might be the word…for all people to find some form of contentment or satisfaction or happiness. It lies at the core of every human being, whether we’re aware of it or not, to pursue what fulfills us. Conversely it implies that to not find a reason to live, leads to death. If you were a nut job or a depressive I might be alarmed, but I see you as a stable person with a strong mind so I know this is something contemplative and spirit-building.
But you are not alone with this notion. Within the last month I was brainstorming for concepts and themes to explore for imagery. Here are two ideas I wrote down that relate in some way to your 2012 goal: “Holding on to the belief that better things will come,” and “Realizing my best days are behind me.” I feel these relate since they are a response to a current condition.
I think as you and I come to terms with our respective projects (my exploration of these themes through artwork and your quest for reasons in 2012), that the journey itself, the act of our effort to find those answers might be a fulfilling one and, if we’re lucky, lead to more questions so that we can continue our search, hopefully on our own terms. However, I question whether finding the answers is enough. It might only be the first half. I think what we DO with our answers might be what tips the scales towards contentment. I think it will be our attempts to SHARE what we’ve learned, through whatever medium we choose (artwork, writing, spoken word, etc) that will make the true difference.
What are my reasons for getting up everyday?
“Holding on to a belief that better things will come.”
Photo Credit: http://weheartit.com/entry/26705143
During the past few weeks all kinds of things passed through my head. I thought about some things I want to do, some things I need to do and some the things I wish I’d done. I beat myself up for not keeping some personal commitments, but I was also able to pat myself on the back for some other good accomplishments. The nice part is it’s never too late to start again. I do believe in that.
The current state of my life has been defined by some colossal failures that have their beginnings around 2005. I’d lost my life’s balance, made bad decisions and ended up wasting about seven years. I regret losing such a large portion of my life. No productivity. No personal growth. So I try to look on the bright side and tell myself that those years have helped carve the features of my character. And that the outcome is good. I’m now immune to that set of life’s maladies. Who knows, perhaps I may be able to help another with the pearls of my life’s wisdom.
At times I compare my current self to the me of my 20s and 30s. I assume that I’m not alone and many of you also do this … at least those of us with some substantial years behind us. I was as all young people of that age group are: energetic, positive, driven. I lived with purpose back then. At the time, I was too naive to know what that purpose was, but I was working toward something. I had a creative mind, a positive attitude and an amiable disposition. I had an innate knack for graphic design that I used to my advantage. These facets of my personality and skill gave me the confidence to start a business or two, or three. I was able to make a living from them. At different times, the progress of each rose and fell as with any business, but all would fizzle until the last one finally failed. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the talent or the work ethic. With the advantages of hindsight, I can honestly say: I sucked as a business person. I hated that part of owning a business. All I wanted to do — all I was good at — was the creative part.
In one respect, I’m glad I didn’t become a success in the business world. Make no mistake, the capitalist in me wishes I had. As an American I’m prone to believe the commercials: I DO need that new Audi … in fact give me one for each day of the week. And I’m going to need that 7,000 sq. ft. house with the 5-car garage as well. But as it stands, that’s not the way my life unfolded. My guess is I probably would’ve burned out on the unrelenting fast pace that business ownership demands. And I’d still be hating the business part of it. I’d have denied the small voice in me that wants to create my own art images. I’d not have the time for real self reflection and no time to write it down.
Currently, my occupation as a designer keeps me busy from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thankfully, work stays at the office and the rest of my night is mine. With time for thoughtful self reflection, I think I’m finally coming to terms with my past failures and learning what makes me truly content. All of this is an evolutionary process to become whatever it is I’m supposed to become.
All my life I’ve been a late bloomer. And even though this bud is 48 years in the making, I still believe the flower of my life is coming and that some really amazing parts are yet to be realized. I hope to receive them with humility and passion.
Sometimes I refuse you a glance
And I keep turned to shield me from your view.
Though I can feel your stare, you don’t advance
Which suits me. It’s comfortable, this distance between me and you.
Then I feel prepared from time to time,
Whether from hope, or for help, I throw an exhausted stare.
I look your way and you look mine.
A pause…then I shuffle past, and nothing is shared.
My head’s argument clamors around you in my thoughts.
So much time wasted, my higher self absent to decide:
What is the truth? What is the purpose? Why am I overwrought
With the extreme beauty of an emotional being, yet a supreme inability to confide?
Out of this maelstrom I struggle to pluck a confident voice.
One that can bring clarity, or an inner relief of some kind.
And at the end of my mind’s journey I realize the choice:
Though hopelessly flawed, self acceptance was my gift to find.
I’ve let summer become seasons
Waiting to be set right again on that road.
Giving rise to remembrance of all the reasons
Why my life’s worth the struggle, regardless of the load.
And there you are, gazing back through your reflective pane.
But like me, you seem different, uplifted somewhat.
Wordlessly and with a nod an agreement is gained.
A deep sigh, a half smile and finally respite.
Acceptance and reason must lead my direction.
In our opposite, I see we’re exactly same.
I give thanks to calm and my reflection.
And with strength renewed, it’s me I’m here to reclaim.