I think if I could give my younger self advice that I probably wouldn’t listen to it would be to actually learn to enjoy life. Which when said out loud seems silly and self-evident. But I spent a lot of time refusing to do anything that would sway me from the goals that I had (I remember becoming furious at a boy in college for wanting to spend time with me, because it was taking time away from writing), unaware of the reason for why I was doing such things, or that refusing to take a break would burn out the enjoyment for anything.
When I set my mind to something, understand the reason why I’m doing it, and understand how doing that thing will improve or affect me, I have incredible discipline. This ability to push aside a lot of pain and hesitation to get something finished. I feel like a lot of that comes from feeling like I have no alternative. I want to be a particular thing, a particular person, so I must accomplish these tasks to do so.
When you have such focus of mind – even if you’re sitting on a beach it can be almost impossible to fucking relax.
I was 21. I remember smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee with a roommate while he read to me Clive Barker’s “The Hellbound Heart.” I was really confused, at his seeming ability to just sit there and appreciate life. The way he paused for a moment after he drank his coffee, savoring it, letting all that sensory input come in for the sake of itself.
But I liked it.
I think you should do things that you like. Because whatever your goals are, that’s going to ultimately align with and support them.
And if I could have listened to future self, maybe I wouldn’t be such a burnt out pile of nerves that finds it difficult to even enjoy reading a book, or watching a movie, or doing anything anymore, really. Because I didn’t believe people when they told me I needed to relax. I didn’t have the understanding that being able to enjoy things would improve my thinking, improve my focus, improve my knowledge. So I became shakier and shakier until I snapped.
If you can, do something for yourself every day, with the concentrated purpose of enjoying it. Not just because it’s a nice thing to do, but because it’s going to make you a better person. Not because you deserve it, but because that’s going to get you what you want, faster. It doesn’t have anything to be grandiose or cost money – it could be watching a music video on Youtube.
I downloaded this app called Streaks about two months ago – you create these daily checklist items and see how many consecutive days you can do them. On my account I have a few tasks for myself every day: Write, meditate, practice non-disassociating, write in my daily status update, and do something that is fun at least every day.
Slowly, day by day, that thing inside me grows. My ability to focus, to shift into a world where I’m not constantly on the verge of killing myself with “DO THIS THING” is coming back. And with that, I actually want to write more, do more. Be. More. Instead of just feeling like I have to, and hating it.
Some simple things I do to enjoy life:
Get a cup of coffee or tea
Watch a movie
Play a videogame
Read a book
Go to the park with the puppies
Take a walk
Buy something on Amazon
Go to a bookstore
Curl up in bed with a fuzzy blanket and a beer
Take a bath
Make myself a gin martini
Cook a yummy dinner (Or order in a pizza)
(Note: This is partially a reblog from my Facebook from 6/30/2016. Thankfully, a year later, I think all of this is still relevant)
(Additional Note: For all the people who’ve come to know me as the sadness, despair, and melancholy queen, especially the people who’ve read my books, and are wondering what this bullshit is on my blog about trying to find happiness and are possibly thinking that I’ve sold out and am about to start writing sponsored posts about energy crystals, I have a message. Writing is one of the most important things to me and my overall life. If being the best writer I could possibly be meant that I had to be sad and miserable, then I would cling to sadness. If that was the ~price~ I had to pay, I could accept that. It is that important to me. And many people over the years have indeed told me, that the most gifted, brilliant, and productive writers are the ones who are consistently depressed and in pain. So I accepted that as my status quo and as a constant in my life. But as I’ve grown and learned, I’ve come to the realization that happiness will overall improve my writing and its quality, and sadness will possibly kill me. So if you are reading this blog and wondering why I often talk about things unrelated to writing, this -is- indeed, related to writing, and in my life the two are now crucially intertwined.Related posts
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