Equal relationships | The Sunday Monday Post

One of the values that I have kept in my yearly integrity reports is:

To make the world better for others.

The world would be boring if I only cared about myself. I’m not interesting enough to entertain myself for my whole life so I look outwards and try to make other people’s days better.

To do this, you can lend an ear and listen to people. To do so without concerning yourself about how to respond in the best way or thinking about the best time to interrupt them.

Another is to offer a hand and help them reach a solution to a problem they might have.

Another is to simply provide good company and care about them the way you’d care about any important person you have in your life. You can be the person who’s always able to make them laugh or make really good food.

The one thing all of these have in common is this:

To treat them as equals.

Equality is important but it’s usually thought of in terms of things like money and making sure everyone gets fair access to healthcare (It has definitely been a huge mainstay of political philosophy).

What about how we view ourselves in relation to other people? This is a much easier starting point for more people to reach the Good and Equal Society but easily overlooked because it doesn’t seem to have a grand impact you can read about in the news.

Dog-Thinks-Parade-All-Him
I can’t remember exactly why I chose this picture but it doesn’t matter. That dog is having the time of its life and that’s awesome

Elizabeth Anderson, a political philosopher, wrote an article titled What’s the Point of Equality?

She argues that it is up to the government and its citizens to create a society where people have equal social relationships. An equal society is one where we treat others with respect, don’t marginalise, oppress and so on.

Why is this important for me?

Anderson’s argument was in relation to the state more specifically and creating institutions which promote social equality. However, there is an important message for individuals like you and me.

When we treat people like equals, we make everyone’s life better.

And that’s what I love about it.

Seeing the person next to you as an equal rather than someone you look down on with contempt or someone you view as flawless, you appreciate them for both their positives and their flaws.

Of course no one is perfect, but it’s easy to get into the trap of thinking that regardless. Even if it isn’t explicit. Everyone hurts, cries, laughs, smiles at some point. It’s important to make sure that we appreciate these things.


oliver-cole-245712
Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

A story

I attended a political … “thing” two weeks ago.

…I call it a “thing” because it wasn’t rally but it wasn’t calm. It was bizarre. I’ve never been part of something where everyone is just following one person around getting pictures of a political candidate looking “human”.

Or in a place where security needs to be sassy for no reason. Or in a place where little children present perfect picture opportunities instead of the child just… being a child. There wasn’t much wrong with it. It was just weird, you know?

I decided to go because I wanted to help my dad. I kept on losing him though but I have no idea how because we were in a town centre where the only interesting thing is a KFC and a Subway that closes whenever it wants.

I’ve said this a few times but it was just so weird. But I’ve decided that if I’m ever a celebrity, my bodyguards are going to be a flurry of cute dogs because they’ll distract everyone while I walk around in peace.

Back on topic:

With the idea of equality running around in my head, I decided to talk to people just to talk to them. I learned a lot.

A lady called Caroline spoke to me about her work with people with learning disabilities. She was complaining that she needs to log indecent things about the people she helps (like frequency of bathroom breaks) otherwise her funding gets cut. Interestingly enough, she’s still there and wants the best for them. She wants to take a level three qualification (like an A level) so she can do more advanced work.

She called herself a fighter. I have to agree!

A man called Mark spoke to me about the political disagreements we had. And it was probably the most civil 5 minute conversation I could have asked for.

The child I met, Ruby, was just cool. She has no sense of direction. But she’s cool.

To me, just talking to other people and hearing what they had to say reminded me that listening is an act of humility. Treating other people as equals instead of assuming they’re better or worse than you opens up an enlightening conversation and often makes the world a little better.

Bit by bit equal social relationships are fostered. To me, it also strengthens your personal character and your resolve to improve yourself personally.

To make the world better for others and to try improving your own life, start with an emphasis on equality.

An equal relationship between you and me. You and your friends and family. You and the stranger you see on the train.

A relationship without contempt, condescension, idolisation or oppression. And with that comes a better world for everyone.

ZkwNPUe
Equality of the best kind…

As always, thank you for reading!

The Sunday Monday Post is a slight stray from my usual style of writing. It’s more of a stream of consciousness on a topic that interests me. My question for you is:

What do you do to make your relationships more equal?

You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook for more updates!

Advertisements

Sadness | The Sunday Monday Post

If you’d give me the chance, I’d like to talk about being sad. Lost. Frustrated. Depressed.

But first, I want to celebrate a few things.

I have a friend who is currently transitioning (or “transforming” as she now says) and says she’s the happiest she’s ever been. I’m happy for her.

I have a friend who, after a year of multiple applications, crude bosses and near overwhelming responsibility, managed to get a job directly related to her field. I was there when she got the job offer and believe me, her smile was as big as the sun. I’m happy for her too.

Ms Improving Slowly (or Arguably Honest) had a mighty relaxing holiday and a break from all of my terrible jokes. I’m happy for her too.

My dad got a job rather quickly after his previous position ended and I can always see a small pep in his step after things like this happen. I’m happy for him too (although, it hasn’t motivated him enough to use the exercise bike we have!)

There’s a lot to be happy about when I really attempt to practice appreciative joy. That is, taking yourself out of the equation and simply enjoying the happiness that other people are experiencing. To me, that is one of the greatest upside of empathy. While it is often used in the context of trying to help people who aren’t in a good position, it can also be used to celebrate the positive!

I find, when you care about the important intensely, you begin to share the moments of happiness as you do the moments of sadness. And that is OK. In fact, I think that makes relationships that much richer. So much more valuable. 

When you’re around, regardless of the highs and lows, you’ll experience some good moments. Happiness comes along and it feels good.


lobostudio-hamburg-221476

LoboStudio Hamburg

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned publicly, but I’ve dealt with depression for about three years now. In that time, there have been many many low moments. Currently, I think I’m in one of those spirals where everything you hold onto seems slippery and you retreat into yourself.

Just waiting for it to pass.

Of course, it’s difficult to imagine that it ever will! Even with the evidence that happiness has come about before, the hill always seems difficult and impossible to climb. Especially with the fact that a lot of my mood is tied to my pain. And that doesn’t want to leave me in a hurry.

In a “recent” post, I asked myself what the purpose of this blog is. What does Improving Slowly mean? The first principle was to accept that we’re all working drafts. That also means we’re far from perfect. And most definitely our thoughts aren’t always perfect, true, helpful or even valuable.

You may have these moments of extreme self-doubt – the same way I do. Doubting your skill set, what you add to the world, wondering who cares about you and asking yourself whether you should even take another step.

It would be best if you do take the next step. Even if it’s the tiniest step possible. Towards a small moment of peace where you are free of continuous self-judgement and vitriol.

I always say when I’m stressed that there’s always time to take two breaths to yourself. While this doesn’t solve my sadness, it helps me slow down and return to the present instead of dancing in the frenzy of the future.

One.

Two.

With time, even if it takes weeks, I begin to remember that sadness does pass.

The depression may stay around but that’s a much larger battle to tackle one step at a time.

jake-thacker-113197

 

Jake Thacker


Relationships are important. I’m appreciating that more and more.

It gives me the opportunity to remember there’s more than myself in the world. I don’t need to get lost in my own thoughts all the time. I can enjoy the experiences of others.

Or I can help and be helped.

Being lonely is difficult and stigmatising. It’s something I want to explore in more detail so I won’t do it here. However, if there’s one thing to take from this post, I ask that you tell your friends and family that you appreciate them.

If there’s someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, maybe say hello again (you can probably skip the small talk and just ask something interesting – everyone is “good” or “fine”).

And that’s about it. Sadness happens. It also stops at times. Being sad isn’t a defect – it’s just an emotion.

And they pass.


As always, thank you for reading!

If anyone asks, I’ll be alright. I’m just trying to be more honest and show I’m not perfect but making steps to improve myself.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more updates!


If you are depressed or anything of the sort, here are some resources (for the UK):

NHS DIRECT
Provides 24 hour access to nurse advice, information about healthcare and about local health services. Contact NHS Direct for help with a current health concern, to ask about out of hours doctors’ services and for emergency health advice.

Helpline: 0845 46 47, every day, 24 hours a day
Websitewww.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

SAMARITANS
Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental support, 24 hours a day for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.

Telephone: 0845 7 90 90 90, every day, 24 hours a day
Emailjo@samaritans.org
Websitewww.samaritans.org
SANE
SANE is one of the UK’s leading charities concerned with improving the lives of everyone affected by mental illness.

Helpline: 0845 767 8000, every day, 1:00pm-11:00pm
Emailsanemail@sane.org.uk
Websitewww.sane.org.uk

ACTION ON DEPRESSION
Supports the running of self help support groups in various parts of Scotland which offer the opportunity for confidential local support and contact with others in a similar situation.
Provides an information service offering support and information on depression to individuals, their families and friends and professionals working with people who have depression; a quarterly members newsletter and a range of helpful publications.

Telephone: 0808 802 2020 Information Service, Wednesdays, 2:00pm-4:00pm
Emailinfo@actionondepression.org
Websitewww.actionondepression.org

Please go to Depression UK for more detailed links.

I’m finished | The Sunday Monday Post

Ok, it’s a Tuesday. Sue me.

I’ve been occupied. I finished my Master’s degree last week and I didn’t know how to process it. I suppose I was satisfied with myself because writing my dissertation towards the end became extremely tiring and, quite frankly, boring. A lot of the time was spent on trying to fix small details and occasionally being overwhelmed with self-doubt.

“If I quit, will I get a refund?”

“No. That’s never been the case.”

“Are you sure?!”

“I’m certain – you can’t just get a refund from a course you’re 1 week away from finishing.”


I’ve been asking myself: What is the best thing I took from it?

Aside from the stress, self-doubt, hatred of misplaced commas and overdosing on Pringles, I didn’t know how to process the entire MA. The education was great in parts, and just fine in others. UCL is a nice enough university. London itself is pretty cool too.

My friendships.

The people I met and the relationships I got to experience was the best thing I took from the entire MA.

I often wonder whether that’s just me being overly sentimental or whether that speaks to some craving for attention I have but I’ve dismissed those as my thoughts trying to sabotage my happiness.

I asked the course director, James Wilson, his advice for doing as well as possible. He told us that the cohorts who seem to have done the best and enjoyed their time while doing it were those who had a good sense of community among them.

I seemed to take that to heart and so did everyone else.

We all became good friends incredibly quickly. Even though nearly everyone has moved away again (some across the world!), I’m unbelievably happy that I met all of them, learned from them and just had fun. I believe they all made me better as a person in some way or another.

To all the lovely people who were apart of the MA, thanks for existing. You’re never not being my friends because we’re in this forever.

To everyone else who just read that, I’m not weird, I just like good people, I haven’t kidnapped any of themI just want to stay friends, ok I can’t make that sound not weird. Maybe I shouldn’t have said it.

But I’m keeping it there. I love all of them.


My final dissertation was on illness, ignorance and the society of equals. The main aim was to show how ill people are treated unequally in society and how we might want to rectify that.

I will explain it in more detail in the future. In a more conversational tone. But I learned a lot about my relationship with my own disability (chronic pain). I’ll definitely write more about it in terms of relationships because it’s healthy for me to share my own experiences. After all, I never know who is struggling out there but doesn’t have the words, or confidence, to tell the world their experience.

There were many times when I worried that what I was attempting to argue for (structural ignorance of ill persons experiences) was too ambitious. I suppose I’ll find out when I get my mark back. But I’m glad I gave it a shot. It definitely stretched me intellectually. It invited me to think about what it means to be ill and live in a world with other ill and healthy people.

Illness is multilayered and the questions it invites are tough because they’re personal. One of my “favourites” is whether well-being is possible in illness. Not because I believe it isn’t. I believe it is.

So much of being ill is immensely difficult and it often feels suffocating (if not literally). Asking if it’s possible to live well with illness asks me whether it’s worthwhile trying when things can be so difficult.

And coming back to my friends, it gave me a stronger reason to appreciate that I have them. So I want to become a better friend and rekindle friendships that I’ve let fall to the wayside. That is, of course, if I’m invited back in.


Sorry this has been all over the place. You can probably tell I still have no idea how to think about the past or what to do about the future. Perhaps I don’t need to think much about it.

It’s all been interesting but now a break from academia is calling.

I don’t know what’s ahead of me but that’s OK I suppose. I’ll figure it out eventually.

As always, thank you for reading!

For more updates, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Am I a Fraud? | The Sunday Monday Post

Last year I wrote this:

“I thought I’d start the Sunday Monday Post so I can to talk more loosely about the things I’ve enjoyed within the self-improvement sphere and how I think I’ve improved in the past week (or since the time of the last edition).”

I’m not very good at this whole “writing weekly” thing. I live on a wheneverly schedule, I suppose.

To summarise, this is a far less structured post than normal and a chance to talk about what I’ve found interesting in the past week with regards to self-improvement.


The titular question – am I a fraud? – is a bit unfair because I’ve already answered it. I often believe that I am.

Writing about self-improvement, overcoming adversity (and daily mindfulness tips over on my Facebook page), seems to put me in a position of authority. If I write as if I know what I’m talking about, then I ask, do people believe that have everything under control?

I certainly hope not.

Sometimes I’m like the little kid, who has no sense of direction, crying for my parents in a grocery store. Other times, I surrender myself to death by Pringles overdose or drown in crunchy M&Ms .

One of the reasons why I am hesitant to post is that I feel like my posts … lack sincerity? Aren’t true?  I can’t find the right word. If I don’t always live the advice that I give, is it good advice? Am I ever in the position to give advice about anything at 22?

To tackle this, I try to remind myself of the highlight/blooper reel problem. We compare our bloopers to the highlights of other people. If I fear that other people would think I’m a fraud if they found out my bloopers, what does that mean?

It means that, because I write about self improvement, I have to not only present myself as a person who follows all of their advice but I have to be perfect. Which goes completely against the idea of improving slowly and self-compassion!

I don’t have to be perfect. I’m not perfect. I do not want to be perfect. But it’s OK to give recommendations on how to live better because I’m just here figuring it all out along with everyone who reads. You probably have a personal problem that other people do not know about. I do too. And that’s alright – you can still help others.


Even though the fear that other people think I’m better than I actually am is based on nothing factual, I’d like to break that down a bit. I’m going to share some of the positives and negatives I’ve had in the past month:

The good: 

  • I swam 1.5km quite a few times and it felt good.
  • I finished the first draft of my dissertation.
  • I worked on a summer school and seemed to make a positive impact on some of the students.

The bad: 

  • I didn’t write for the blog as consistently as I would have liked.
  • I also struggled to swim 700m multiple times throughout the month.
  • I broke promises to call friends to catch up.

The ugly: 

  • I’ve been in a lot of pain, nearly every day.
  • I’ve polished off 3 packets of Pringles in a week (and m&ms … I told you.) as a result. Stress eating is something I’ve tried to avoid but it sometimes catches up with me.
  • I’ve been overwhelmed with negative emotions that make me withdraw from other people quite quickly.

Despite all of the articles on self-improvement I’ve written, I still make a lot of mistakes. It’s just part of the process. Social media makes it really easy for us to believe that things are smoother than they really are.

So I’ll try to worry less about whether I have the “authority” to help people. A lot of these articles are also reminders to myself.

I hope you find them helpful too!


Here are a few articles I’ve found interesting in the past week:

And that brings me to the end of the Sunday Monday Post.

How do you manage the feelings of insecurity and helping other people? Does it bother you at all?

As always, thanks for reading.

For more updates, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

What Does ‘Improving Slowly’ Mean?

In the time that I’ve spent writing about various elements of improving slowly, I haven’t sat down with you and spoken about what it means. I hear the cries already.

“It’s bloody obvious! Rather than improve quickly – improve slowly!”

But I promise, there is more to it. I want to talk about the values of improving slowly and why they’re important.

cameron-kirby-135929.jpg
Photo by Cameron Kirby on Unsplash

The principles of slow self-improvement

Self-improvement is important to a lot of people. Especially to those who feel bad about their skill set and general abilities. Or to those who want to live happier and more fulfilling lives.

The literature is broad – much of it very good (and terrible, but we can ignore that for now). The experience of self-improvement is not spoken about as often as it could be. Largely because blogs and books tend to give advice (as my blog does too) without talking about what it’s like to actually live that advice.

I started my blog so I could do that but I feel that I’ve strayed from that (or never really started). So I’ve been thinking:

What are the principles of slow self-improvement?

When we challenge ourselves to go as quickly as possible (for whatever reason) it’s easy for that doubt to become more and more intense. It’s helpful to slow down, be mindful and enjoy the process of improving as much as we can.

This brings us to the first principle – We are working drafts

I explored this briefly in the last post on self-forgiveness. When we decide to improve certain things, we do so because we believe it could be better. However, it’s easy to slip into perfectionism without noticing. As a result, we might see how quickly we can learn something (in order to get rid of the deficiency quicker) or become overwhelmed by the task and never start.

There’s nothing wrong with learning quickly if we have the right foundation. If we start with the belief that we aren’t perfect and need to be, learning quickly will not solve that.

We take a mindful breath, assess our intentions and remember that we’re a work in progress. We always will be.

And that’s OK.

With this in mind, it becomes much easier to catch those harmful storylines which can often plague our thoughts.

“I’m not moving fast enough!”

“I’m not smart enough to learn this so quickly”

“I’m falling behind!”

And instead of focusing more on the improvement and being kind to ourselves in the process, it becomes much easier to lose ourselves in the storyline or give up when we realise that learning a language or writing a book isn’t as sexy as we first imagined.

Improving slowly is about improving with compassion.

Self-forgiveness is one facet of self-compassion. There are a many others. Small things such as:

  • Cultivating kinder thoughts towards yourself
  • Allowing yourself to relax
  • Appreciating how far you’ve come and your courage to keep going

In the journey of self-improvement and as a result improving the world, it helps to start from a foundation which isn’t infected with hate. Of course, this takes time – I struggle with it every day. But it’s a worthwhile struggle.

One day I’ll see myself in the same positive light that I see my friends and family. I hope the same for you.

Another important principle of slow self-improvement is a deeper adoption of helpful habits.

When we improve slowly, we spend more time with the habits we want to adopt. As a result, we’re far more likely to keep the habit than for it to be a fad.

For example, a study from University College London showed that it can take an average of to 66 days to form a habit rather than the conventional “21 day challenges”.

Next, we resist apathy and cynicism – and fight against it.

Apathy and cynicism are only around the corner and come knocking when we experience multiple setbacks. We must remember that we cannot give up on ourselves. Especially when it is most tempting. Simply remembering that we can be champions for ourselves is a helpful reminder to remain engaged with the world.

Even in the simplest form. There have been times when all I’ve done is reminded myself “I want to be engaged in my own story”. Then gone back to bed.

It can be difficult, but on reflection I’ve understood it as an act of compassion.

austin-neill-160132.jpg
Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Lastly, we become better one step at a time.

It is better to work with focus instead of attempting everything at once. To do this, we slow down, take a mindful breath, and take it step by step.

Conclusion

This journey of improving ourselves and adding value to the world is a life-long one. Our time is valuable but this doesn’t mean we try to complete things as fast as humanely possible.

I ask that we slow down. Savour our improvement and as a result develop a healthier relationship with setbacks and disappointments.

While we improve, we’ll experience many of our ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows.

And that’s more than OK.

Onward we go to improve ourselves and improve the world. With presence and mindfulness.

We improve slowly.

Here are the principles again:

  • We are working drafts
  • We improve with compassion
  • We spend a lot of time with positive habits
  • We resist apathy and cynicism – and fight against it
  • We become better one step at a time

As always, thank you for reading. If you found these principles helpful, please share! Let me know what you think of them below :)


Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more updates!

twitter and facebook mascots :D

Meditation is a Practice

“I can’t clear my mind – it just isn’t for me”

“My mind is too frantic to meditate properly”

When people talk to me about meditation, those are the most common sources of resistance I come across. To meditate correctly you need to be able to clear your mind and only focus on your breathing without interruption.

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about meditation.

It’s easy to imagine that the well-practised meditating monk can sit down and clear their minds without any problem. The belief is – for us to be able to meditate, we must do the same.

Mindfulness Meditation is a Practice.

First, let us understand mindfulness.

Toni Bernhard views it as paying attention with care. 

Not carefully paying attention. Paying attention with care.

The difference is slight but important. When you carefully pay attention, you spend your energy on making sure the object of your attention always stays that way.

When you pay attention with care, you begin to invite small amounts of compassion. Bernhard tells us, if you see a child run into the road, you don’t simply remark “A child in the road in front of a speeding car.” Your first instinct is to make sure that the child is OK because you care.

Mindfulness meditation is the practice of focusing on your breathing (or another anchor like sounds, your chest rising and falling etc) and separating yourself from your thoughts.

We try our best to notice when thoughts occur and bring ourselves back to our chosen anchor. And we do so with care. Without judgement.

Joseph Goldstein has a wonderfully simple phrase that helps us when our mind begins to wander.

“And Simply Begin Again”

It’s what minds do 

Our minds will always have thoughts flying through them! Always! They come and go. Meditation helps us appreciate that they leave instead of getting lost in the story line they present.

I’ve been meditating reasonably consistently for over four years and I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve had this moment of complete clarity and an empty mind.

Even when this moment of complete peace does happen, it is interrupted by my wandering mind. And that’s fine. We softly bring our attention back to our anchor and continue. At the beginning, we might have to do this a lot. It’s also tempting to become angry at ourselves and determine we’re bad at this whole ‘meditating’ thing.

You’re not.

It’s what minds do. With practice, as we become better at paying attention with care, we will notice that it still happens.

From the perspective of mindfulness, it doesn’t matter what arises.

Joseph Goldstein

The important difference between the novice and the person with years of practice isn’t that they have the clearest mind in the world or that they are always in the present.

They know it’s OK to simply begin again. To refocus their attention to their anchor with the appreciation that thoughts come and go.

It’s OK to not have a completely clear mind when meditating. With practice, you’ll slowly learn to compassionately bring your attention back to the place you choose.

It’s something you continuously do.

You focus on your anchor. Have a thought wander into your attention. You notice it.

Then you simply begin again.

So you definitely can meditate if you want to. It’s a practice – over time, it’ll be easier to focus.

Your mind will wander – it’s what minds do. Pay attention to that with care. Then simply begin again.


Here’s more on meditation and mindfulness:


As always, thank you for reading.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more updates!

twitter and facebook mascots :D

The Ten Thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows

At some point, we will all experience one of the ten thousand joys, and ten thousand sorrows.

Hearing of the “ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows” was important to me. It brought me back to one of the biggest aims I have for myself.

To be whole.

To be with emotional experiences rather than avoid them. To appreciate that sometimes, I’ll be sad, other times I’ll be happy. Neither of them will last forever and that’s OK.

We all experience a large variety of emotions. Whether that’s sadness or happiness. Anger or grief. Disappointment or excitement. A lot of the time, we try to resist the negative ones and prolong the positive ones. Underneath these experiences, we might have a small story building in our heads about how “this must end because it’s not fair” or “I wish this will last forever”.

These stories demonstrate a resistance to our emotions rather than an acceptance of them. I’ll demonstrate:

If I’m happy because I’m out with friends, I may begin to think to the future about how this night will have to end or why I don’t do it more often. The effects of this might not be obvious in the moment, but it can easily hit us at the end. We wanted it to last longer.

If I’m sad because I’m in pain, I might begin to grow angry at life. Why must I hurt so much? Why must this happen to me? I want it to hurry up and end. Unfortunately, this eagerness to avoid the emotions I’m currently experiencing prolongs it. I’m adding emotional suffering on top of physical suffering.


wholeness 1

I’ve been forced to be a bit more introspective and live with my thoughts a bit more because pain can leave me bed ridden for hours on end. The world is presenting me a great opportunity to be sad. One that is near impossible to refuse. The door is open and I’m already halfway in.

This is the usual part of the story where one might say that you fight against it and become happy again. The constant desire to be happy makes us more likely to resist more negative emotions rather than accept that they are only one of the ten thousand sorrows. Thankfully, we will also have ten thousand joys.

The constant desire to be happy can result in significant disappointment when it doesn’t happen. Sadness becomes an enemy rather than just an emotions that comes and goes with time. Often, I found that I would miss moments of happiness in fear of it being taken away.

When people go on to say that their life goal is to be happy, I’ve realised that it isn’t something I want to aim for.

I want to be emotionally whole.

It means to accept and acknowledge the wide range of emotions that we have. We’re allowed to be sad, angry, happy, loving, all sorts of things. I do not believe that we should think of these emotions in reference to happiness (And how they’re either not happiness or just an extended form of it) but rather, we can just accept them.

Because we’re going to experience them anyway.

Placing yourself in the position of a fighter is a helpful story to tell yourself when you’re in a bad place. You’re fighting against the negativity with positivity and good vibes. But what happens when that fails? Does that mean the sadness is winning and you’re failing?

I’m not sure. So it’s worthwhile to think about the story you tell yourself in a bit more detail. Do you really want to spend your time fighting against negativity with positivity? Is that a positive thing to do?

Rather, we might want to adopt the metaphor that we let the sadness in, warm it up with acceptance then see calm embrace the room.

In some sense, we’re lucky to be able to feel such a large range of emotions. In many ways, it shows us that we’re capable of caring about things instead of feeling complete and utter apathy either towards ourselves or towards the things that we want to care about.

I’ve  disliked apathy for a very long time. Primarily because there have been pockets in my life where I’ve experienced it for so long. Accepting the wide range of emotions that we have, helps soothe the negative emotions away and appreciate the positive ones. We give these emotions our attention rather than being passively consumed by it.

wholeness2

If you’re feeling sad, you can simply say “sadness is being experienced by me” or “sadness exists”.

If you’re feeling happy – “happiness exists… and I’m happy that it exists”

Separating yourself from the negative, even in your speech, can be the start no longer being overwhelmed by the emotion.

Separating yourself from the positive helps you acknowledge it and not let it pass without your attention.

Doing this really does help us move closer to the “goal” of appreciating the range of our ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows.

Striving to be happy is noble but I think, if taken too seriously, strips us from the richness other emotions can have.  To do this, we need to slow down and live our days with a bit more mindfulness.

So that is the quest for wholeness. It is difficult and does require practice – I’m certainly nowhere close. However simply reminding myself of this desire does have a calming effect on me. I hope it does for you too.

The quest for wholeness. It requires we pay a bit more attention to ourselves and how we’re feeling. We will be happy and we will be sad. We will be angry, and we will be excited. And that’s OK – they all pass and change with time.

Engaging life challenges us to be fully present and actively involved in our moment-to-moment experience, without clinging to joy and without resisting sorrow.

~ Toni Bernhard

As always, thank you for reading.


 

I will add – this certainly isn’t to say all negative emotions are good. Please do not misconstrue my message for that. I have nothing to say about the qualities of depression yet for I haven’t arranged my thoughts on it. I will some day and it’ll be here for you to read.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more updates!

twitter and facebook mascots :D