Ryan Holiday recommends using a personal journal to record thoughts, ideas and your angst with life. Used by many famous writers and stoics, journaling is described as:
a strategy that has helped brilliant, powerful and wise people become better at what they do. - Ryan Holiday
The act of writing as a cathartic outlet is not new, and I've increased the level of introspection for my published stories (nervously).
Encouraged by Holiday and Diana Raab through her story about writing for bliss, I use blogging as a way to experiment with journaling.
Sometimes the mental chatter in my head, obscures my appreciation of people, colours my circumstances and I've a tendency to undervalue what I do. The little voice rattles on and on, and despite being wrong, it still influences my decisions.
What better way to put the monkey mind in its place than to give more attention to life's treasures?
I unearthed a writing prompt, as part of my effort to write more, and it challenged me to describe three things I'm grateful for. It was too easy to list the obvious, such as life, love and health.
I needed to dig a little deeper. I wanted to change some long-held negative beliefs by turning around their story.
33 Years of Continuous Work
Although I consider office work a trap, and more so since COVID-inspired remote working, I'm grateful for the security work has provided.
As I grew up in a working-class family, money was always in short supply. We had no luxuries, no holidays and had to make clothes last forever.
When I received my first £100, I couldn't believe it. I kept staring at my bank balance day after day until I spent it.
My career won't sound exciting to start-up entrepreneurs, and there's been more boredom than I dare recall, but I've always had a car, freedom to go anywhere, and a home. No matter what the future holds, few people can say they've never been unemployed.
Every week, between the ages of five and nine, neighbourhood kids bullied me. The only reason it stopped was that I remained indoors.
Parents had rows with the neighbours, and we moved house.
Two years of childhood bliss followed before we moved house again — don't ask why. Unfortunately, the cousins of those who bullied me the first time were my new neighbours. The bullying continued from the age of 12 to 15. The only reason it stopped was that I punched one of the bastards in the face. Yay 🎉.
The punch ended the bullying but started isolation. Where we lived, there wasn't much to do except watch TV.
The isolation provided me with resilience against loneliness.
I'm grateful and wish to thank my bullies (if they can read) because those childhood experiences made me who I am today — the person my wife loves. An alternative childhood may have taken me on a different path, created a distinct personality from the one I have now, or led me on another line of work.
I'm happy where I am now, thank-you.
A few years ago, my mother-in-law died with dementia. Dementia is a cruel disease, wiping out someone's recent past, on its way to erasing older memories.
Sadie knew who we were but couldn't tell you the day of the week, the year or who the leader of the country is. (Some Americans would probably wish to forget who their leader is).
I'm grateful to have my memory. Although I'm passionate about living in the present moment, my mind can recall genuine people I've met, my experiences, and the mistakes I've learned from — all of which help me live today a more thankful person.
Gratitude doesn't have to be for good things. You can find lessons from negative experiences too.
I wouldn't be the person I am today without all life's experiences.
The learning continues.