I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin‘s Happiness Project book 1 and I guess some of it is sinking in. Particularly the part about only being able to change yourself and your actions/reactions, even if it’s other things/people who are annoying you.
This morning I thought about some household chore and it brought up other issues and a bolt of resentment shot through me. Which reminded me of other resentments. And which threatened to poison everything I looked at and everyone I thought about.
Well, this is no good, I thought. And I started to think about what I could change in myself (just one tiny, manageable thing) to improve my attitude.
Suddenly I became aware of part of me, deep down, that had started to rattle its cage and scream,
“Why should you? You don’t want to make the effort. And you shouldn’t have to. It’s not FAIR. Wah wah wah.”
Then, hearing its own echo and realising how that sounded, it changed its approach.
“Besides, you’re always making these big self-improvement efforts. You’re always starting another one of these schemes. And if you’re always starting them, what does it mean? Eh? Eh? Eh? If you’re always starting these self-improvement schemes then it mean, dummy, that they don’t work. Otherwise you wouldn’t have to keep starting new ones. Q. E. D.!”
But you know what? I read a quote yesterday that stuck with me for moments just like this. The quote in question was designed to refute the argument that motivational speakers/strategies are a waste of time, energy and money, because you keep having to revisit them. “Motivation obviously doesn’t woke, since you have to keep doing it every day.” But the counter-argument went: “Yeah, well, in that case bathing doesn’t ‘work’ either, but I’m still going to keep doing it.”
Obvious and cutesy, but…wait a minute! It’s true. And bathing and brushing my teeth, are things that only return me to my base state of cleanliness/hygiene.
“At least,” I shouted down the basement stairwell of my soul to the negative voice caged below. “At least my self-improvement efforts lead to an incrementally better, or at least slightly-different me!”
“Most days,” I said, gleefully tossing piles of blue-jean insulation into the stair well to muffle the voice, “most days I can find my keys these days because mostly I put them in the same place every time I come in the door. And they HAVE a place!”
“Actually,” I shouted, slamming shut the 12th century iron-clad wooden door on the whining voice. “Actually, there is relatively little clutter in my living room these days, and mostly what there is, is just from that very day! I can invite people over whenever I want!”
“And furthermore,” I wound up, triumphantly dropping the thick wooden bar into its iron slot, “Furthermore life is ABOUT striving and change and growth. The only other option is to give up and become a moany, negatory harpie whose opinions are only worthy of being muffled in layers of blue-jean insulation and locked in a subterranean dungeon, while other people get out into the light and start running, trying to get ahead of the turn of the world!
It’s very peaceful inside my head at the moment…
- I usually start each chapter resenting her for having the time/capacity/inclination/Type-A personality to address the topic of that month’s challenge, and I end the chapter going “oo, yeah. I want to do that!” It’s well written and engaging and personal but you can tell she has read deeply for this topic. ↩