I was looking back over my last few month’s blogs and I came to the realization that my thinking and my blogging was becoming very narrow and very focused on just one area of my life – writing!
Now, that’s fine, in itself; I am an author after all, so it is natural that books take up so much of my every day, whether reading them, reviewing them, writing them or that other time-consuming task of trying to sell them. What gave me pause for thought though was the underlying core beliefs that I was talking about in my earlier blogs of 2015; the things that truly make us tick as human beings. Was I losing sight of those things?
At the end of 2015, when we departed for our brief Christmas vacation in Mindoro, I was feeling tired, worn out and just a tad stressed. It occurred to me that this was not the way I should be feeling. If I followed and lived by the precepts that I had been preaching earlier in the year, I should feel fulfilled, renewed and joyful.
With that in mind, I decided to take the first blog of 2016 and remind myself why those fundamental, core, beliefs are important to me physically, mentally and spiritually.
In the spirit of the New Year it is time for some rebirth and renewal.
Let’s just pause, for a few moments, before we rush headlong into all the projects we have planned for this year and remind ourselves what we are trying to achieve.
What is the number one goal of my life? Indeed, what should be the number one goal of everyone’s life?
TO BE HAPPY!
I, therefore, have to ask myself; am I doing the necessary things to make myself happy? As I became more and more focused on getting books into the marketplace and promoting them, the answer to that question had, by the end of 2015, become…Nah! Not so much!
So, back to fundamentals. What is happiness? How do we achieve it and how do we hold onto it?
Happiness, contrary to popular belief, is NEVER the result of external circumstances. We can not rely on the outside world to make us happy. We’ve all said things like: “Oh, I’ll be happy when I’ve paid off this mortgage; or “I’ll be happy when the kids graduate College”; or that old chestnut, “I’ll be happy when I find the right partner.” That is all a crock people. The outside world will never bring you happiness.
Happiness is a state of mind. Happiness is a CHOICE and it is a choice we have to make every single day. We have to choose to be happy, in spite of our external circumstances, not because of them.
OK, fair point! I had rather lost sight of that precept. You see, I had found my “bliss”, I was a full-time author, so I naturally presumed that the happiness would be a long-term part of fulfilling my dream and following my bliss.
This is the fallacy that has unwittingly trapped me, so my number one goal for 2016 has to be to make that choice, every single day, to be happy. Unless I do that, I will slowly, but surely allow the circumstances of the outside world to erode my own personal happiness.
Allied to making the choice to be happy is the second re-commitment I will make to myself in 2016.
That is; TO MAKE TIME FOR MYSELF!
Following your dreams and doing what you love is wonderful, make no mistake about it. I love and I live, to write, but like any job it should not be all-consuming. It should not occupy every waking second (and many of my sleeping seconds) of my day.
Yes, I have to make the time to switch off from Grant, the Author and just become boring, old, Grant, the man (or as my son so lovingly puts it Grant – the silly, old, fart).
I, like millions of self-help gurus and indeed common sense, know the absolute best time to center yourself, to make that choice to be happy, and to mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepare yourself for the day ahead, is the first twenty or so minutes after you wake up.
I need to make the commitment to give myself that time to prepare for the day. It is too easy, especially if you are excited about what you will be doing that day, to jump out of bed, grab the coffee and get the new day rocking and rolling. What I would suggest is just spending a few minutes, every morning, thinking about the things you are grateful for and the things that make you happy. I can guarantee, by the time you do roll down to the table for your coffee, your state of mind will be positive, upbeat, and perhaps more importantly, you will be in a wonderful mood for your partner and/or children.
In exactly the same vein, I need to practice (yes practice) relaxation, especially in the evenings. Relaxation is not always something that comes naturally to all of us. Some of us, especially writers, find it incredibly difficult to turn off. We always have some new plot idea, character arc, or wonderful, new story churning around in our minds. My suggestion to you, and to me, is to do something totally unrelated to your “day job” that makes you happy; be it watching mindless dross on TV, playing a video game, sitting out in the garden with a glass of wine, or even a spot of meditation. It doesn’t matter, just remove yourself and your mind from the day to day travails and activities.
So. my number two commitment is to make more time for myself.
My final commitment to myself this 2016 is to be there more for my wife and children;
TO MAKE TIME FOR MY FAMILY!
You know how it is, your wife/husband/partner, or your daughter/son/whoever, wants to tell you something that happened that day, or something they’ve been pondering over, or just something they saw on the news, and what do you do?
Oh sure, you half-listen, and you nod appropriately at the right points or mutter “oh dear” or “well done”, whatever seems right. Yet, at the same time, you’re glancing at the TV screen, or reading a little more of the article, book, blog, that you happened to be on at the time. Possibly, you’re thinking about the words you wrote that day or that problems at work. We’ve all done it and we’ve all excused ourselves for doing it. “Oh, I have so much on my mind”.
Newsflash peoples! Your family is more important than your work or your current preoccupation. I am certainly guilty of this and no; saying “oh, I’m just multi-tasking”, is not an acceptable answer, for me. The reality, for me anyway is, my family are the number one thing I am most grateful for and as such deserve and command my utmost attention.
So, for them I will make that extra effort to make more time for them.
So, there we have it; the three things I will work on this year to ensure that when 2016 comes to an end I will not be a worn-out husk of a writer with no passion and joy left.
For me, the key to achieving this is one word –
I must DELIBERATELY choose to be happy every day.
I must DELIBERATELY choose to make that extra time for myself each day.
I must DELIBERATELY choose to make more time for my family.
Nothing in this world happens by chance. We made the choices yesterday that determined where we are today and we make the choices today that will determine where we are tomorrow.
I leave you with this one thought:
Whatever else you do, choose to be in control of you! Don’t let outside forces determine who you are and where you are going. You are a unique, wonderful, human being and you are in control of your own destiny.
Till next week, have a wonderful, peace-filled day!