I figured out something recently. I keep forgetting it until I remember to apply it and then it’s a revelation all over again. The more I do this, the better I feel about myself. I think I’ve reached the point where it’s going to be second nature. Well, almost.
Being an artsy person, my emotions fluctuate quite a bit. Or maybe this is just my general temperament. I also happen to live in a female body, so let’s blame some of it on hormones. Then there’s personal image. I’m in rather good shape for someone who is shy of 50 by only nine months. I eat well and I’ve been exercising rigorously at least five days a week for thirty years. Alright, so there is some over-forty padding here and there, but I must admit that I feel quite fit.
My life is simple. I have good work that is in line with my skills and I can work from home on top of that. My expenses are minimal. I have a few good friends (I say a few because I am a hermit). You’d think I might be able to say that I feel secure in some ways, but often I can’t, except…
… I’ve recently identified the three instances when I feel perfectly at peace, and quite uplifted actually: After a good conversation with someone positive, when I help someone and after I’ve completed a project I had been avoiding. And THIS, I know now, is the secret to happiness, since happiness depends not on outside circumstances, but on how we feel about ourselves.
I don’t know why it took me this long to figure this out. Most of the times I “avoid” something, it is merely a matter of prioritizing. For instance, I typically put a lot more time in my work for social media clients than what I agreed to have them pay me for. Thoroughness and added value have always been very important to me, so I am happy to do this. The down side is that I frequently run out of time or energy for personal projects, or so it appears.
I’ve discovered that if I consciously make room, even for just one hour at the end of each day, the progress I make with my artwork, chores around the house or other projects, is utterly uplifting. I know it’s not rocket science and I should have figured this out long ago. But there is a difference between knowing this and actually taking the actions that reinforce it, consistently.
Projects or dreams that sit on a to-do list in the back of the mind have no power of inspiration because they are not in motion. To be in motion, they do not need to be in full gear, at full speed; they only need to be moving. When we set aside personal dreams or projects, we set ourselves aside. Incomplete business makes us feel incomplete.
When I take daily steps to honor personal activities or projects, I feel my self-esteem soar and I feel uplifted. I gain momentum. One more thing happens: I become more tolerant. I stop mentally blaming others for my own shortcomings, for the wrongs I perceive they have done or for simply not doing things the way I think they should be done. In addition to this, when I consistently make room for projects that would otherwise sit on the back burner, my entire perspective changes. Obstacles become challenges instead of barriers, I stop worrying about income or tomorrow, I stop turning to food or sugar for comfort and I stop using the words “I can’t.”
I have a theory: We often feel bad about ourselves, impatient, irritable and somehow unfit to face the day not because we over-ate and feel guilty, not because of something someone said or did, not because we don’t have enough time or money, not because we have a boring job, not because of our body or hormones or age; we feel bad because we have unfinished business with ourselves. Yup. I think that may very well be the only true reason we ever feel like crap.
Time to sit down with the current art project.