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Day 31: Two quotes, Two lessons

November 14, 2023

Our relationship with how things go

Things can go badly or they can go well, and you have some relationship with that.

This is probably the most powerful lesson I’ve learned so far – that I have a say about how things go in my life but I don’t have control of how they go.

Like any relationship, we both shape it and are shaped by it.

The trouble is, without any sort of deliberate practice or way to consolidate our learning, we don’t make as much progress.

This blog is part of my deliberate practice. It’s my way of calling myself to the table once per day to consider how I’m shaping my life and my contribution to the world around me.

Learning to break cycles

If you don't stop making the same mistakes you're prone to making, things could get very bad for you.

There are some mistakes I’ve repeated so many times I came to think of them as part of my personality.

I came to believe things about myself and my capabilities for change – things that kept me stuck and made me believe I was hopeless or useless. 

The trouble with mistakes like these is that they create loops. You make the mistake and with that, you start writing a story about yourself. Each time the mistake is repeated, a little more is added to the story and it becomes more believable – and the more believable the story, the more the mistake repeats. Until the story starts to resemble an encyclopaedia and we take it to be full of facts.

At that point, things can get very bad, depending on the nature of the mistake, and is particularly true where addictions, eating disorders and socially isolating behaviours are at play.

How this relates to joy

I think I’m stuck in a bit of a “Phoebe conundrum”. For the Friends fans amongst you, perhaps you’ll remember the episode where Phoebe tries to find a non-selfish altruistic act but finds there’s always a personal benefit and therefore is no such thing as a selfless good deed.

I think that’s true but I don’t think it matters. I don’t think it’s bad that we feel good about doing things to help others.

The difference for me was that when I was focusing on “happiness” as the goal, I was in pursuit of things that would help me feel happier so I could show up more intentionally for the people in my life – the underlying message being, “if I’m not happy, I can’t be intentional about how I show up”.

That got me stuck in loops that led me to recreate mistakes. I got tired, overwhelmed and confused and I’d retreat into comforting behaviours to numb out my perceived failures and failings.

Seeking to switch to the expression of joy is about releasing my dependance on happiness as the foundation for living intentionally.

This way, I get to show up with gratitude for whatever experiences I have and become a contributor to my relationships in a way shapes the experiences of other people for the better too. 

It feels like the expression of joy has the capacity to radiate out, shaping more people’s experiences and making it possible to break more cycles than just my own. 

However, I’m learning that writing about it remains a lot easier than practicing it!

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