Satisfaction

I’ve become quite obsessive this year. It seems like every time my life starts turning one way or another, I dive headfirst into whatever’s going on. When things starts to go wrong and I wallow in self-pity and give up on everything. This year has been fantastic. I honestly don’t think it could have gone any better. But I’ve become obsessed with perfection. And obsessed with flaws. It’s actually become quite an obstacle to my everyday life because once something goes wrong, just one tiny thing, I can’t stop thinking about it. What’s the point of life going well if you can’t appreciate what’s going well. I’m starting to formulate my New Years resolutions for 2016 and I know this is going to be an important part. Because I’ve made so much progress this year, but I’ve become to obsessed with planning out my perfect future that I literally don’t know how to just stop and relax anymore. Even now, I’m done with my semester, I have a job lined up, I couldn’t possibly plan things out anymore, but I’m still fucking obsessed. And even worse, the reason I haven’t been writing is because I kept telling myself I needed to set aside time to write out a perfect post. Planning was a good idea at the start of the year because I needed to figure out how to get my life back on track, but now that it is, I can’t seem to stop. So here I am putting an end to this madness. And just for kicks, throwing out some spontaneous ideas:

-consciously allot yourself one mistake a day

-start meditating again, even if its for five minutes a day

-pick an activity to do imperfectly (even if that means just watching netflix episodes out of order)

-take time to appreciate what is going well

-accept that nothing horrendous is going to happen if you make a mistake. your life is not going to spiral out of control no matter what you think. stop fearing the past

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The Final Stretch (i.e. goals, revised)

I’ve been pretty happy with 2015. I think life is meant to get better and happier as time goes on, and it’s a good sign when this happens. It means that you’ve learned from the past and incorporated it into the present. Of course, it’s impossible to be perfect, to be perfectly happy as things are… but in a way, that just makes the future more exciting. So I’ve set a few goals for myself to focus on as I enter senior year, not for the purpose of achieving them fully, but to give me something to strive toward. They center around a quote by one of the most random people on earth, the North Pond Hermit, who lived in solitude for 27 years. When asked about his reflections on the human condition (following arrest for burglary), he stated:

I did examine myself […] Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing – when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.

My goal is certainly not to become a hermit, but to live for myself, independent of performing for others, independent of the need for affirmation. As I’ve gotten distance from my internship, I’ve realized that these past few months have helped me to take a big step in this direction, but I’m still not quite where I want to be. So here is me solidifying my goals:

  1. Be happy, truly happy with what you have. With who you are. No matter what your physical conditions are.
  2. Take care of yourself wholeheartedly. Focus on doing things that you want to do, not things that you feel pressure to do.
  3. Be accepting of the happiness of others. Practice some metta.
  4. Feel as intensely as you can feel. Love as intensely as you can love. Don’t hold back and don’t be afraid to get hurt.
  5. Remember that you are dealing with something that does make your life a little more difficult than the lives of others. Understand what that means, and accept it. Know your limits and respect them. Be grateful.
  6. Don’t be deterred from your ultimate goal. It’s okay if it changes or evolves. Just remember to stride toward it as wholeheartedly as you can.
  7. Take ten minutes for yourself every single day, whatever that means.
  8. Don’t limit yourself or be afraid to take risks. That’s what life is about.
  9. Love love love yourself. Don’t apologize for being you. Work everyday to be the best version of yourself. And don’t look back at those who didn’t care enough to cast you a second glance.
  10. Celebrate failure.

I guess with that, I head into the first day of my senior year of college.

Reminders for Me

Wrote this a while back. Reminders for the bad days and the good…

1. Things won’t always be this way. If you put in a little bit of work each day, things will get better. Doing that one little thing each day that’s a challenge for you will go a long way, but know that it will take time. Nothing is instantaneous.

2. Don’t worry about things you can’t control. Focus on doing what you can do in the moment. That’s how you get where you’re going. Things happen. They aren’t your fault. They’re part of circumstance, or fate, and bad things happen to everyone. Don’t look back, look to the now.

3. Don’t compare yourself to anybody else. Anyone else at all. You don’t know who they are, or what they’ve been through. Misery loves company, but looking around doesn’t help you at all. Nobody has a perfect life, no matter what it looks like. But you can’t understand or see someone else’s pain.

4. Things move up and down. Remember that. Having a good day? Take it all in. Having a bad day? Know that that’s all it is. A bad day. And when that happens, take every chance you get to start over. There’s no reason your day has to stay bad.

5. Don’t give up. Don’t give up for that day in the future when you can look back and see what you’ve become, but always remember what it took to get there.

6. No one has a perfect life, but the people who are truly happy being themselves? It wasn’t an easy journey getting there. Happiness isn’t a matter or whose life is better. It’s dependent on perspective and outlook. The hurt that you are experiencing now? It’s all part of your journey in getting there. Don’t ever think that its a waste of life. Nothing is a waste of life. Everything leads you somewhere, and wherever you are, its where you are supposed to be.

7. Always be appreciative of yourself and the things that are going well for you. Its easy to be dismissive, to focus on the negative because they seem so horrible, but give yourself credit, affirm yourself. That’s worth more than anything else in the world.

10 Steps for Fighting Harmful Behaviors and Getting Over Addiction

It was such a simple move, but simply acknowledging my addiction has changed my personal outlook quite dramatically. It has helped me understand why I do some of the things I do and how to consciously make a decision to stop reverting to all these things that end up harming me in the end. Nevertheless, I am a plan it out kind of gal, and I feel like writing down a plan will make me more accountable to myself. So here are my 10 steps for fighting harmful behaviors and getting over addiction:

 

1. Pinpoint actions and behaviors that you turn to when you stressed, depressed, or in a generally negative state of mind.

2. Answer these questions: Does this make me feel better in the short term? Does it have harmful long-term consequences? Am I becoming dependent on this? Do I know how to cope with my stress without this? And finally, am I addicted?

3. Acknowledge the addiction and make a conscious decision to get over it.

4. Make a list of reasons why it is harmful. How is it affecting your life in a negative way? Reinforce your reasons for quitting so that when you start to relapse, you remember why you committed in the first place. Write these reasons down and keep them accessible.

5. Make a list of your triggers so you are aware of when you are most vulnerable and when it is most important to steer clear of your addiction.

6. Find a hobby, or a make list of activities to fill your time with instead. Personally, I am trying to start meditating more regularly. I’ve also been practicing piano much more, as creating music is something that builds my confidence and allows me to be comfortable with myself. Going for a walk or listening to music are also great activities. Something my therapist suggested, but I’ve only tried once is listening to an audiotape to keep thoughts from going astray.

7. Reward yourself! (Albeit not by giving in to your addiction) Treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant or buy yourself something nice. Set personal goals for your addiction, be it number of days, weeks or months, and when you fulfill these goals, give yourself a little something.

8. Get in touch with your feelings. A large part of meditation is understanding your emotions and mental states. When you are sad, acknowledge your sadness and try to understand what it is that is making you feel this way. By becoming more aware of what is going on within you, these emotions have less control over your actions.

9. If you have a relapse, don’t give up. Acknowledge that relapse is natural and happens to the best of us. It is not a setback. It is simply a reminder of how difficult recovery is and how strong you are for having come this far. Keep chugging forward.

10. Celebrate yourself. Acknowledge the little victories. Did you get out of bed today? Did you smile at least once? Did you make someone else smile? Did you check off something on your neverending list of tasks? Did you fight off an urge? Did you remember to celebrate yourself?

Metta.

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7 Ways to Get a Little More Out of Life…

1. Handwrite someone a note
We all have that special someone who has made our life just a little bit better just by being in it. Maybe its time to tell them that. Thank them for making a difference in your life and let them know why. It takes ten minutes to write down how you feel and it will mean the world to them.

2. Make a checklist
There are always those simple little tasks that we always say we will do later. Making a doctor’s appointment, cleaning your room, returning your email. For some reason there is nothing more satisfying to me than checking those little shadowed boxes, especially if those tasks take less than five minutes to accomplish. At the end of list, have a checkbox for “starting the list” so you can start off strong.

3. Get mindful
Take a couple minutes each day to center yourself. Don’t think about the past or the future, but focus on the present. It’s difficult to remember this as you go about the day. Ironically, there are several iphone apps to help you out. Most of them are about 99 cents and you can pick time intervals (eg 1 hr or 2 hrs) when it will ding and remind you to be mindful. I use a free app called Lotus Bud that will ring at random intervals. If you buy the full version, you can set a schedule for quiet times when you don’t want to be interrupted, but otherwise, you just open the app and there is a switch for on and off.

4. 100 Happy Days (or something like it)
You’ve probably heard of 100 Happy Days where for 100 days, you take a picture of something, little or big, that was a highlight to your day or made you smile. For my winter study class at Williams, I took landscape photography and I felt like for the first time I was really seeing the beauty of the campus. Obviously living in the Berkshires and in the mountains doesn’t make this very difficult, but I also started to see the beauty of a swatch of grass or a pile of leaves or the magic of a snowy night. Now that the class is over, I’ve started to notice less since I no longer have assignments to complete, but I’m starting to make an effort to get back to seeing and not just looking.

5. Do a few burpees
I’ve noticed that when stress starts piling up, I get into a bit of a rut which usually ends up in me lying under the covers in fetal position blaming myself for getting into this situation. I’ve started to see that all it takes is a little exercise and a bit of a pep talk. It doesn’t have to be extreme exercise, but if you do 20 burpees or jumping jacks once every hour or when you feel yourself sinking into that bottomless pit, it might get your motor revving a little.

6. Set an intention for the day
Like I wrote earlier, it was much easier for me to see the beauty in the world when I had to do it for an assignment. That may sound terrible, but its not so bad when its a goal that you set for yourself. It can be something on this list or an inspirational quote or something arbitrary like saying hi to someone you’ve never seen before. Hopefully focusing on this goal will make you start living more in the present and not in the past or the future.

7. Write yourself a note
I don’t mean one of those goal setting notes that they make you write at every workshop, retreat, or orientation. I mean acknowledging that you appreciate yourself, that you’re proud of yourself, and encouraging yourself to get through whatever you need to get through. Throw it out, delete it when you’re done, but make sure you take that time for yourself.

“One thing about trains… It doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.” -The Polar Express