Small Changes

A few months ago I had established myself into a routine of daily, if not every other day sitting down and writing for around half an hour. One day I got a puppy… and everything shifted. This small (arguably large I supposed) shift forced me to spend my morning routine within reach of the puppy in case it misbehaved. I could no longer seclude myself in the basement for daily yoga, I had a hard time being undisturbed for a full half hour and the routines I had been crafting so carefully were out the window… literally overnight.

Well now some time has passed, puppy has started to behave more like a family dog, and I’m still not back in that routine. As I look back at how I got started, it seems so hard to do now, so I’m looking at it strategically. The truth is that I didn’t just start writing and doing yoga every day. The truth is that I had been doing short yoga periodically, sometimes meditating and being thoughtful. Then I was making myself write at least once a week for as long as I could. It took baby steps with the biggest change being my desire. I would feel bad when I didn’t do things… I would think about when I could. It all started with the DESIRE to change and then one day I just pushed a little harder. That’s the case right now. I have a timer next to me that says I WILL type for at least 20 minutes. Even if this goes nowhere then I’ll have done this writing and will have started the process.

I look at this across everything I want to be different in my life, no and in the past. Small changes are still changes, the only place shame and pride exist are in my own mind, so why not just do it. YOU might be judging me, but I don’t know that and once I do know, it again is up to me to care about your opinion. The only thing holding me back is my own story, which is a topic for a future post I’m sure!

Years ago I was interested in new age things which led me to look into things that are pseudo-science and widely practiced. On the edge of that was handwriting analysis. It was suggested that someone skilled in this analysis could tell many things about me… and I don’t refute that at all. That being said, I also tried, years ago, to change my handwriting because I thought it was too sloppy. When I look at those two pieces of reality, I’ve always wondered… if I change my handwriting, does that change my personality? At some level, I believe so. At some level, I feel that by becoming more aware of myself, it pushes me to change another part of myself. Changing my handwriting meant I was becoming slower and more deliberate in how I communicated, this change in speed and intent made me more mindful but also more structured and more organized. I still see it when I journal by hand, some days I feel very “put together” and my handwriting is smaller and tighter. Other days I feel rushed and just want to get thoughts down or get the journaling over with and my handwriting becomes wild and erratic.

While I’m not saying that writing differently will change who I am fundamentally, taking the time to affect a certain change has a broader effect across my outlook however temporarily. I liken it to the chaos theory which most will have heard of in Jurassic Park. When a butterfly flaps its wings on one side of the world, it could be a tsunami on the opposite side. Small changes, however chaotic, start a chain of events that have a larger impact. You might have also seen the less critically acclaimed “Butterfly Effect” which revolves entirely around how one small change in your life may affect many unexpected things.

I go into this theoretical physics tangent to just point out that change is always change, however small. If you want to see a difference in your life then it’s important to start, anywhere, in any way possible. Me writing this today will ripple, it might mean I write again tomorrow, it might just mean I pull out my journal and do some handwritten journaling again. By at least starting this, and more importantly by me putting this out into the world, I am back on a path of change… hopefully with the intent in which it is being written. We’ll see, but change is CHANGE.

Mindfulness and Purpose

Mindfulness is your friend when you get lost, emotional or pulled away from your true nature. It can be there to help if you feel the pull of any negative emotion, giving you the chance to pull yourself back into your vision of what you wish to do in your life. Don’t be confident that it will give you purpose, though it’s certainly possible that it can, rather it’s there as a waypoint to bring you back into focus. This is often the case for me.
In the past few years, I’ve found myself more anxious, worrying about me and my family’s future. At my worst, I’ve become depressed, frustrated and apathetic, generally unmotivated to do more than browse the internet. Consumed by distraction, it’s very easy to just float along without purpose and the further you float, the harder it can seem to get back on track.
Years ago, we’ll say about 20 of them, I was fascinated by, and constantly studying philosophy and religion. I read regularly and had high minded thoughts of making the world a better place. As time passed, I let myself get wrapped up in my 9-5 job and eventually got married, had kids, and didn’t spend much time thinking of those things. It wasn’t until my 40s that I start to look at the future again, but this time with a more concerned eye. I had kids that needed to be educated and fed, the world seemed to be going downhill and I was left employed in a position that didn’t give me purpose. These conditions introduced me to a new feeling, anxiety. (Or it seemed new to me anyway.)
The blessing of anxiety, for me, was that it threw me back into my youthful attempts at meditation, minimalism, mindfulness and generally finding peace in the “right now.” I was reminded that I didn’t need to own more things or take on more bills to accomplish happiness. Anxiety brought into sharp focus the truth that my happiness was always by my own choice and my own actions. This isn’t to say that if I wanted to I could just “get that dream job” but rather that I had the choice to be happy right now. If I couldn’t find joy in myself while working¬†this job, why would it be different with another. If I wasn’t motivated to do things in my free time, how would retirement change that? Rather than dread the future, Mindfulness is teaching me to enjoy right now and remember that it’s my choice to be happy.
As I spend more time being mindful it reminds me of those days in my youth when I wanted to help myself and others to live a more peaceful, blessed life. Oddly enough, getting married and having kids is the BEST reason for me to find peace and learn to encourage it in others so that I could share it with my family. Beyond that, I strongly believe that everyone will stand to benefit from it and use it to strengthen their own purpose. With Mindfulness, it’s easier to step back and remind ourselves WHY we’re doing the things we do, for better or worse.
DISCLAIMER:¬† My anxiety was definitely a by-product of my lifestyle choices and was very treatable with meditation and mindfulness, that isn’t the case for everyone and I encourage you to do what’s right for YOU. I firmly believe that becoming more mindful can help everyone, but don’t want you to do anything that makes your life harder than it may already be as you struggle with Anxiety. Be an active part of your healing and you’re already well on your way.