I’m taking the #Trust30 Challenge. One short prompt every day for June. It’ll be categorized under Creativity (that’s Wednesday posts, if you’ve noticed), but instead of doing 30 posts, I’ll just go back and update this same post every day, so come back and visit, won’t you?
31 May: We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson. You just discovered you have 15 minutes to live. 1. Set a timer for 15 minutes. 2. Write the story that has to be written.
My story would not be a narrative but a list of thanks. Sniffling, bawling, weeping thanks, that somehow I got lucky enough to spend 33 years and 88 days on this planet getting to smell rain and babies and oatmeal cookies, to hear thunder and wrapping paper and snow, to sob uncontrollably when I have the urge, to laugh so hard I stop making noise, and know what it’s like to love and be loved. Who am I to deserve that cosmic bonanza of consciousness?
And who am I to deserve the countless kindnesses that fellow recipients of this gift have further heaped upon my head? I get the door held for me, I get grinned at by a baby, I share a quiet joke with a stranger, I have people who notice when I’m down. By what right am I granted this attention?
And I get to appreciate them while being safe and warm and dry and fed. I’m not being hurt or hated. I got to curl up last night with a book while a cat snored on a typewriter next to me. Who am I to deserve peace when so many people never get it?
Yes. I’d spend my 15 minutes giving thanks for what has made my life alive and to the One who made it so in the first place.
But perhaps I’d give that 12 minutes, and take the last 3 to find a way to get out of whatever this jam is, so as not to have this be my last 15 minutes after all.
I’m not ready to give it all back yet.
1 June.Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance. If “the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks,” then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.
Today, a little tiny deep-down part of me that I didn’t realize had fallen asleep woke up again, and I hope it stays awake, because I missed it.
2. June. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance. The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?
I believe that martial arts makes me a stronger, safer, smarter, better person.
They only occasionally let it slip, but I have friends and family who have a quiet belief that martial arts is kind of a joke, mostly for people who aren’t particularly athletic (or cool). What inspires my belief, in contrast to that, is that I’ve met some of the most athletic (and cool) people I know through it.
What stings is that I feel as if I let those people down and give the sport a bad name by not being nearly as athletic (or cool) as I want to be. I actively live my belief, sure – but not nearly as well as I’d like.
3 June.That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (i.e. I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (i.e. How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a Post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48 hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.
Bonus: tweet or blog a photo of your Post-it.
(Author: Jenny Blake)
I think perhaps I failed at this day. I obediently thought of my biggest challenge, turned it into a question, wrote it on a Post-it, put it up on my bathroom mirror, and looked at it over and over again. But two days after staring at “How can I eat properly?”, all I’ve been able to think of is, “Just do it, dummy, it isn’t complicated and you know exactly how to, all you have to do is do it.”
I don’t think that’s the supportive guidance my subconscious was meant to provide me.
4 June. If we live truly, we shall see truly. – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?
(Author: Chris Guillebeau)
I’m not one of those people unbitten by the travel bug. I wouldn’t be content if I hadn’t seen a lot of the world already, and didn’t think I wasn’t going to see lots more of it in the future. I’ve been lucky to see many of the places in the world I’ve wanted to. I’d like to see many of them again, and more – all over the UK and the Caribbean and the Mediterranean – but if I had to pick one spot I’d never been near? New Zealand. It just seems so foreign and ripe and amazing and so much unlike everywhere else. (Plus, great accents.)
The “what will you do” part is easy. Save up and go.
I think so many people don’t travel because they think of it as such a big deal. But these are the same people who will save up for a new patio set or a spa weekend or shopping – and any one of those is enough to fund a trip. Travel isn’t any harder than anything else and it’s so worthwhile.
Oh dear, have I just woken up the bug again? I may have done.
5 June. Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive. Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual always-something-better spiral? (Author: Jonathan Mead)
If I had one week left to live – aren’t we getting a bit macabre with pretending imminent death? But I suppose it is, one way or another. So if I had one week left to live, would I be writing barefoot with the breeze blowing in, and then going to visit some of my favorite people? Yes, yes I would. But I would probably not have been so fussy about the laundry and the dishes and getting the new grill assembled.
Then again, maybe I would. I would like to leave things neat and finished.
But if I knew I had one week left, really and truly, might I not be cliched? Wouldn’t I be on a plane to somewhere stunningly beautiful where I could lay in the sand and feel the sun on my skin and look up at the sky? Or wouldn’t I be desperately trying to gather up everyone who meant anything to me? I don’t know. Which is why I think I’ll stick with my first answer. Keep doing what I’m doing.
Second question is harder. I think I am “preparing to live” in far too many areas of my life. My brain has one gear, and it is that of perpetual self-dissatisfaction. Not dissatisfaction with life – everything around me is lovely – but with what I am doing with it, what I have done to deserve it and what I’m going to do with it.
How on earth, writer Jonathan Mead, does one get out of that spiral? I wish I knew.
6 June. Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born. – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneur’s worst enemy. Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego. Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious. A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. Its only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate. – Steven Pressfield, Do the Work. The idea of being realistic holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place getting real often means putting your dreams on hold. Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down. Also write down the obstacles in your way of reaching your goal. Finally, write down a tangible plan to overcome each obstacle. The only thing left is to, you know, actually go make it happen. What are you waiting for? (Author: Matt Cheuvront)
Goodness, that’s less of a prompt and more of a declamation, isn’t it, author Matt Cheuvront? But here goes.
I like the phrase “parlour soldiers”. I feel like that in many ways.
I also agree with this general idea of moving away from rational thought. I’ve found that rational thought, and trying to do what I think I’m supposed to do, is an unhappy struggle, whereas going with my gut, even when it makes no sense, makes me far happier and much more at peace.
One thing I’ve always wanted to accomplish but been afraid to pursue… would be being satisfied with myself. I am not. There is always something more or different I should have done or should be doing. I’m so rarely pleased with what I’ve accomplished. I would like to be.
The obstacle in the way of reaching that is, obviously, myself. So how does one overcome oneself I suppose by doing what I said; going with my gut. Not giving myself a “rational” list destined for failure, but listening to myself and following that. It’s worth a try.
7 June. There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson. What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years? (Author: Corbett Barr)
Let’s see, five years ago was… ah. Five years ago was June 2006. That was not a good time. I don’t talk about it much here – I’m sure I have a different narrative than other people would – but June 2006 was between the cancellation of my wedding and the ending of that relationship. It was the part where we were trying to figure out if there was a way to salvage what we had. There wasn’t. Not a fun year. So what would I say to 2006 Me? I would tell her it’s going to be okay. That you are not a bad person. That you are doing the right thing. If I – or anybody – could have made myself believe those things then, it would have helped so much.
Ah well. Now then. In five years it’ll be June 2016. I’ll be 38. Wow, that’s a bit frightening to realize. Five years doesn’t sound like too long, but 38 sounds desperately far away somehow. It’s a lot harder to imagine what 2016 Me will need to hear. I suspect, though, that it’ll be the same as I needed to hear in 2006, and as I need to hear today. Stop trying to be all kinds of perfect to all kinds of everybody. Take care of yourself first because nobody else will if you won’t (as Patti says, put your own mask on first). And just go with your gut, follow your instincts, listen to that voice. It’s always right.
8 June. The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson says, always do what you are afraid to do. What is too scary to write about? Try doing it now. (Author: Mary Jaksch)
It is too scary to write about the things that go against my consistency. My consistency is to be fine, to hope I’m pleasing everyone, to hope I’m not showing the world what I’m worst at. Therefore, it is too scary to write about many things.
It is too scary to write about how I’d like to be just as mean right back when I get gibes about being single. It’s less that I’m too good of a person, and more that I’m too unwilling to be perceived as rude. But would it ever feel good.
It is too scary to write about how I don’t want to date because I don’t think I’d have respect for anybody who’d want to date me. Writing about it would seem like a request for compliments, and I don’t want those. What I want is not to feel that way.
It is too scary to write about how, as cheerful and competent as I seem, I frighten myself when I can’t complete the simplest of activities. Because, you see, leaving laundry or dishes un-done means I Have Serious Problems. And you wonder why I don’t want other people’s judgment on top of my own?
I do what I’m scared of. It’s my thing. So why haven’t I done this before? Even just in writing it, some of it has seemed foolish. It’s funny how thoughts feel one way in your head, but another way when you read them. I think I don’t do it because I don’t have a lot of self-trust.
9 June.Â To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. â€“Â Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHTÂ NOWÂ to 1 million people, what would you say?Â (Author:Â Eric Handler)
Um. I dunno.Â Is what I want to write.Â But that would be a cop-out. Also, perhaps, not true. So I think: What do I believe?Â Well, this being somewhat of an opinionated forum, I think you’ve heard many of them already.
Your life is your chance toÂ exercise free will over the obstacles and blessings and opportunities you get. Doing that with the best possible touch on other people’s lives is the point of the game. At the end you face the creator of the game, and how well you’ve done that will be how well you’ll enjoy that experience.Â That’s what I believe.
Also, I believe everyone secretly still loves fireflies, marshmallows and going barefoot, and anyone who says differently is fibbing.
ï»¿ï»¿10 June.Â Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. â€“ Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Write down in which areas of your life you have to overcome theseÂ suicidal tendenciesÂ of imitation, and how you can transform them into a newborn you â€“ one that doesnâ€™t hide its uniqueness, but thrives on it. There is a â€œdivine idea which each of us representsâ€ â€“ which is yours?Â (Author:Â Fabian Kruse)
Good lord, where do I not imitate? It’s my M.O. from way back. I started school at nine and I was horribly shy. I knew I didn’t know anything about school, and I couldn’t really learn much about normal families and kid life at home, so all I had to go on was quietly imitating. Where to sit, what to say, how to act, what the rules were. It worked, andÂ it’s made me good at picking up on things.Â But yes, you can’t just be a mimic.
I say what I feel more than I used to, but that could use improving. I’m not sure that it’s a “divine idea” – mostly, what I’m feeling is anything but divine – but it certainly is truer. And it feels better, too. So here’s to thinking about exactly how I feel inside and saying that, rather than checking on what everybody else is saying or on what I think the person would expect or like me to say or feel.
11 June.Â These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. â€“ Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Is fear holding you back from living your fullest life and being truly self expressed? Put yourself in the shoes of the you whoâ€™s already lived your dream and write out the answers to the following:Â Is the insecurity youâ€™re defending worth the dream youâ€™ll never realize? or the love youâ€™ll never venture? or the joy youâ€™ll never feel?Â Will the blunder matter in 10 years? Or 10 weeks? Or 10 days? Or 10 minutes?Â Can you be happy being anything less than who you really are?Â Now Do. The Thing. You Fear.Â (Author:Â Lachlan Cotter)
Geez, this is less a writing prompt and more of an order for action, writer Lachlan Cotter, and kind of a bossily worded one at that.
And is it just me, or are these prompts getting a bit samey? I feel like I’ve written about what I’m scared of 12 times in a row. Is that really all I need to think about when it comes to trusting myself? Stop being afraid of that stuff? Am I going to bore you to death (and myself, too, not incidentally) doing this another 18 times?
Or am I just taking them all in this direction? Is that just all I think about when it comes to trusting myself?
Hmm. Well played, writer Lachlan Cotter. Well played indeed.
12 June. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy,Â if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. â€“ Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Think of a time when you didnâ€™t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself. Â How will you surprise yourself this week?Â (Author:Â Ashley Ambirge)
This, Sunday’s prompt, was apt, because that was Warrior Dash Day. I wasn’t too afraid, and that in itself is something I’m proud of. I’m a very different person than I used to be.
The one obstacle I didn’t do was climbing a 20-foot wall with a knotted rope, and it kind of bothers me that I skipped it. I just knew I’d be terrified, and I didn’t trust myself not to freeze in that fear at the top. There were no nets or ropes, and I know that what gets me about heights are the ones that I can fall from. Â But I did the other two height-related obstacles – a rope net climb, and a balance-beam walk – and I did everything else, and with a bunch of people I don’t know well, either – and I don’t think I’m giving myself enough credit for all those other scary things. It’s not every day you end up in an unknown town hours from home with a bunch of strangers dirtier than you’ve ever been. Not every day for me, anyway.Â So perhaps this week I’ll try to surprise myself by remaining capable of that awareness. Not just pushing myself to do surprising things, but also surprising myself by acknowledging what I do accomplish.
13 June. When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. -Â Ralph Waldo Emerson. The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then donâ€™t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel GilbertÂ wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that weâ€™re horrible at forecasting how weâ€™ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now â€“ once weâ€™ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, â€œThatâ€™s not what I thought it would be,â€ and ask, â€œWhat now?â€ Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, â€œWhat alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?â€ Theyâ€™re always there, but youâ€™ve got to choose to see them.Â (Author:Â Jonathan Fields)
I definitely prefer the shorter prompts. The long ones seem too lecture-y to me – and this one is saying two different things at once. First it’s telling me to create this vivid big dream of exactly where I want to go. Then it’s telling me to look at my current quest and see what else there is. But they’re not connected properly. Do I first create the precise goal and then look around it, or do I create the big dream from one of those alternate paths?
In either case, to be honest, I’m just being academic to distract from the actual question. I don’t feel as though I have a clue where I want to be in 20 years. That’s not entirely true, but I have a hard time reconciling my openness to the future with my Type-A sense of “I must have a plan! I must be checking things off! I must be on track, whatever track that is! And if I’m not doing that every moment of the day, I’m an utter failure at life.”) In 20 years I’ll be 53 and my life will be more than half over. I can’t imagine how I’ll “really feel” then, any more than I could have imagined how I’d feel now when I was 13. How could I?
14 June.Â Do your work, and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. â€“Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Take a moment, step back from your concerns, and focus on one thing: You have one life to achieve everything youâ€™ve ever wanted. Sounds simple, but when you really focus on it, let it seep into your consciousness, you realize you only have about 100 years to get every single thing youâ€™ve ever wanted to do. No second chances. This is your only shot. Suddenly, this means you should have started yesterday. No more waiting for permission or resources to start. Today is the day you make the rest of your life happen. Write down one thing youâ€™ve always wanted to do and how you will achieve that goal. Donâ€™t be afraid to be very specific in how youâ€™ll achieve it: once you start achieving, your goals will get bigger and your capability to meet them will grow.Â (Author:Â Colin Wright)
The reason I am not normally this blatantly, no-holds-barred honest in my posts is quite simple. The frequency of thought about my size would bore you to tears. It is not something I talk about much, so as to continue having friends who have not stabbed me in the ear after I drive them insane. It’s not broad-minded. It’s not interesting.Â But here it is. One thing I’ve always wanted is to be happy with how I look. I don’t remember ever being that.
15 June. When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;â€” the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. -Â Ralph Waldo Emerson. Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?Â Write about that moment. And if you havenâ€™t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mindâ€™s eye and write about that moment in your future.Â (Author:Â Bridget Pilloud)
Yes, I’ve had that moment, and I actually have a picture of it hanging up in my house to remind me of it. It feels awfully personal to me, but basically, to anybody else, that picture looks like a nondescript street scene, kind of an odd thing to have blown up and framed. But if I had to pick when I grew up, I’d pick that moment. And RWE is right. It wasn’t because of something someone else did or said, and it wasn’t planned or scheduled. I threw myself into something I new and scary and saw what happened.
I realize, as I’m writing this, that I think I’m about to do that again. I can’t reasonably expect to have such good results twice, but I can’t help hoping.
16 June.Â A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. â€“Â Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â My favorite quote of all time is Alan Kay: â€˜In order to predict the future, you have to invent it.â€™ I am all about inventing the future. Decide what you want the future to be and make it happen. Because you can. Write about your future now.Â (Author:Â Cindy Gallop)
I’ll tell you something about the present. I don’t like that these authors are working other quotes in when it’s supposed to be all about poor old Ralph. This is the fourth time so far, and it seems unfair, doesn’t it? Wasn’t the guy good enough to get his own limelight?
I think I’ve written enough about how I don’t know what the future holds for me, I have a hard time picturing it, and I’m kind of okay with that. Also, frankly, that I have a couple of long-term possibilities percolating in my brain that are so vague that I’m not really sure whether I want them – so they’re not really ready for publication yet. So this is a cop-out, author Cindy Gallop, and I apologize for that, but I do have my reasons.
However, I definitely agree with you. If you do know something that you want and you tell the world that’s what you want and you go after it a little bit every single day, you will get it. Maybe not as fast as you might wish, but you will get it. You CAN always get what you want. I believe that solidly.
17 June.Â Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy heart. â€“Â Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Write down your top three dreams. Now write down whatâ€™s holding you back from them.Â (Author:Â Michael Rad)
1. To be happy with the way I look.Â 2. To be published.Â 3. To make myself safe financially.
1. Nothing. 2. Nothing. 3. Nothing.
18 June.Â Greatness appeals to the future. If I can be firm enough to-day to do right, and scorn eyes, I must have done so much right before as to defend me now. Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances, and you always may. -Â Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Trusting intuition andÂ making decisionsÂ based on it is the most important activity of the creative artist and entrepreneur. If you are facing (and fearing) a difficult life decision, ask yourself these three questions:Â 1) â€œWhat are the costs of inaction?â€ I find it can be helpful to fight fear with fear. Fears of acting are easily and immediately articulated by our â€œlizard brainsâ€ (thanks Seth) e.g. what if I fail? what if I look stupid? If you systematically and clearly list the main costs of inaction, they will generally overshadow your immediate fears.Â 2) â€œWhat kind of person do I want to be?â€ Iâ€™ve found this question to be extremely useful. I admire people who act bravely and decisively. I know the only way to join their ranks is to face decisions that scare me. By seeing my actions as a path to becoming something I admire, I am more likely to act and make the tough calls.Â 3) â€œIn the event of failure, could I generate an alterative positive outcome?â€ Imagine yourself failing to an extreme. What could you learn or do in that situation to make it a positive experience? We are generally so committed to the results we seek at the outset of a task or project that we forget about all the incredible value and experience that comes from engaging the world proactively, learning, and improving our circumstances as we go along.Â (Author:Â Dan Andrews)
Hmph. Another prompt that I see less as a prompt and more of a little post of its own. But mine is not to critique. (Although has that ever stopped me?)
Well, anyway, yes, I find it very helpful to think through the what-if’s. Britt just posted brilliantly about this the other day. When you actually think all the way through the worst cases, it’s actually calming – because you realize that you would survive just fine, and anyway most of those worst cases are so unlikely as to be funny.
And this isn’t necessarily a positive trait, but I usually find myself taking big decisions after I see that my original plan, or my inaction, isn’t doing the job. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying the path of least resistance first, or going with what seems easiest. It’s just a matter of being able to own up when that has proven that it’s not the answer – and promptly going to plan B.
19 June. What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know I. -Â Ralph Waldo Emerson. I once received a fortune cookie that read: â€œSpeak less of your plans, youâ€™ll get more done.â€ Whatâ€™s one project that youâ€™ve been sitting on and thinking about but havenâ€™t made progress on? Whatâ€™s stopping you? What would happen if you actually went for it and did it? (Author: Laura Kimball)
I admit that, 2/3 of the way through this #Trust30 challenge, I’m finding it a little boring. A little samey. However, I do seem to be making good new trust-related things happen in my life, and perhaps they’re related, so maybe the sameness is worthwhile. Who’s to say?
Anyway. Laura Kimball. Your challenge seems utterly contradictory in itself, and so I will answer what I think its spirit is, not what its actual questions are.
What I get out of it is that if I want to get something done, I should shut up talking about it and just do it.
20 June.Â Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. -Â Ralph Waldo Emerson. Â We live in a society ofÂ advice columns, experts and make-over shows. Without even knowing it, you can begin to believe someone knows better than you how to live your life. Someone might know a particular something better â€“ like how to bake a three-layer molten coconutÂ chocolate cakeÂ or how to build a website â€“ but nobody else on the planet knows how to live your life better than you. (Although one or two people may think they do.) For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, â€œWhat do I know about this?â€ (Author:Â Jen Louden)
This is an excellent reminder for me. I needed this.
I tend to get really annoyed by people who I feel are being deliberately dense, asking questions that they do (or should) know the answers to. Particularly family. I’m not proud of it, but my fuse is much shorter with people I’m related to.Â And yet, hypocrisy being rampant in life, I catch myself doing the same thing – maybe not often, but at least more often than I’d prefer. When I’m trying to make conversation, usually, I’ll ask a question I already know the answer to.
I also ask a lot of questions that I truly don’t know the answers to. I don’t mind that – I like asking questions – but I do find, as Jen points out, that often, nobody else knows the answer either. So I think it’s okay to ask questions, but it’s worth remembering that while I might not know everything, neither does anybody else.
And I think that there are times when it’s better to not research or ask and just go it myself.Â I notice that the people I admire most talk less than I do. When they do speak, their words have purpose. I think that’s because they trust themselves. I’d like to be more like that.
21 June.Â Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. â€“Â Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â â€œNothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.â€ is a great line from Emerson. If thereâ€™s no enthusiasm in what you do, it wonâ€™t be remarkable and certainly wonâ€™t connect with people on an emotional basis. But, if you put that magic energy into all of your work, you can create something that touches people on a deeper level. How can you bring MOREÂ enthusiasm into your work? What do you have to think or believe about your work to be totally excited about it? Answer it now.Â (Author:Â Mars Dorian)
To be excited and enthusiastic about what I’m doing…
I have to believe I can be good at it. I don’t enjoy being rotten at anything. I get very impatient with myself.
I have to believe it’s for a good cause. Maybe not changing the world, but it’ll interest people or make them smile.
I have to know I can get lost in it. The zone, the flow – just totally focused on and wrapped up in what I’m doing. That’s one of the best feelings there is.
22 June. Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. -Â Ralph Waldo Emerson. Â Who is one person that youâ€™ve been dying to connect with, but just havenâ€™t had the courage to reach out to? First, reflect on why you want to get in touch with them. Then, reach out and set up a meeting.Â (Author:Â David Spinks)
What an interesting question. I’m not sure I can think of anyone off the top of my head that I’ve been dying to connect with. The people I love to talk to most, I’ve been lucky enough to be talking to lately. There are a couple of people that I should connect with, because I feel like it’s what a good person would do.
That in itself is something to reflect on. Is it enough to do things because I ought to want to? Or is that somehow disingenuous? Should I only do things if I can actually get myself to want to?
I’m not sure what those questions have to do with trusting myself. Maybe if I trusted myself more I’d know my heart better and what I want would be closer to what I should want? I suspect that’s wishful thinking.
23 June.Â The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. â€“Â Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â If you could picture your intuition as a person, what would he or she look like? If you sat down together for dinner, what is the first thing he or she would tell you?Â (Author:Â Susan Piver)
If I could picture my intuition as a person, she would be small, sprightly and slightly smug.
If she could see me in person, the first thing she would say as we sat down to dinner would be, “Why do you ignore me when you know I’m always right?”
24 June.Â Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. â€“Â Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â We are our most potent at our most ordinary. And yet most of us discount our â€œordinaryâ€ because it is, well, ordinary. Or so we believe. But my ordinary is not yours. Three things block us from putting down our clever and picking up our ordinary: false comparisons with others (Iâ€™m not as good a writer as _____), false expectations of ourselves (I should be on the NYTimes best seller list or not write at all), and false investments in a story (itâ€™s all been written before, I shouldnâ€™t bother). What are your false comparisons? What are your false expectations? What are your false investments in a story? List them. Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. Put down your clever, and pick up your ordinary.Â (Author: Patti Digh)
Yay, Patti Digh!
I don’t really agree with RWE on this; I think “good” and “bad” can represent ethical realities that exist apart from what I like or want. That’s one of the ways that C.S. Lewis defends the logical existence of God in Mere Christianity.
But I do love Patti’s phrase – “we are our most potent at our most ordinary”. It’s when we’re not trying to be anything – when we are just ourselves – that we can be the most powerful, make the most difference. Because then we’re really ourselves.
And she’s quite right. When I say that I don’t look as good as that girl next to me, or I don’t perform as well as that guy, I’m not improving them (it’s an internal dialogue, so it’s not like it flatters them) and I’m not improving myself either. I’m making myself unhappy and that’s it.
When I say that I should be getting more work done, when I should be working out more, when I shouldn’t be wasting time, I’m still not improving myself. I’m just making myself feel badly about what I am doing.
When I invest myself in stories about how I’m not on the right path, I’m still not improving myself. I’m just putting my choices down, the exact opposite of self-trust.
Perhaps I can be more aware of that, and try to be more simply aware, instead of judgmental. I don’t actually think I’m doing the wrong things, or that bad in comparison with the world. I think I might be okay. I should give myself a chance.
25 June. The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. â€“Â Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â What if today, right now, no jokes at all, you were actually in charge, the boss, the Head Honcho. Write the â€œcall to armsâ€ note youâ€™re sending to everyone (staff, customers, suppliers, Board) charting the path ahead for the next 12 months and the next 5 years. Now take this manifesto, print it out somewhere you can see, preferably in big letters you can read from your chair.Â Youâ€™re just written your own job description. You know what you have to do. Go!Â (bonus: send it to theÂ CEOÂ with the title â€œThe things we absolutely have to get right â€“ nothing else matters.â€)Â (Author:Â Sasha Dichter)
Well, while I might not be about to send the CEO of my 100,000-person company a manifesto anytime soon (I’d prefer to remain employed and not under the watchful eye of security or Employee Assistance), I actually AM in charge. Of me. Of my life.
So where I want to be, and what the path should be to get there, I can work on that. 12 months from now? 5 years from now? I think I know what those should be. I just need to work backward.
One of the tricks I use is a chart – really it’s the same as any big corporate strategic plan – that starts big and gets specific, with these headers:
Dreams -Â Goals -Â Projects -Â Tasks
What you start with should be what each of the next ones down are focusing on.
This is a great reminder to do one of those right now. Excuse me.
26 June.Â I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittering and unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and bleeding. -Â Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Think about the type of person youâ€™dÂ NEVERÂ want to be 5 years from now. Write out your own personal recipe to prevent this from happening and commit to following it. â€œThought is the seed of action.â€Â (Author:Â Harley Schreiber)
…Now that I’ve looked up the word “expiate”….
…And noted how much I love the phrase “glittering and unsteady”…
I can think of several people who I would never like to find myself growing to become by 2016. Several of them are, in fact, “glittering and unsteady”. They’re the ones I’ve flown too close to – and usually gotten a little singed from. Some are more “matte and mired” – buried in sameness and, all too often, unhappiness.
I think the four-part exercise from yesterday goes a long way toward making sure that you’re your own person, and not mimicking someone else just because it’s easy.
I think it’s also good to surround yourself with people you’d LOVE to find yourself becoming more like over the next five years. I’ve got many of those. It’s one of my rules: Only have friends who are cooler than myself. You want to be able to look up to the people you love, right?
(In case you’re curious, my rules also include: Always buy from lemonade stands. Stretch. Open the windows. Do what you’re scared of. Go with your gut. Be around green living things. Say hello to dogs and children. Read, read, read. Make sleep a priority. Drink insane amounts of water. Write every day.)
27 June. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.Â If we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â When did you feel most alive recently? Where were you? What did you smell? What sights and sounds did you experience? Capture that moment on paper and recall that feeling. Then, when itâ€™s time to create something, read your own words to reclaim a sense of being to motivate you to complete a task at hand.Â (Author:Â Sam Davidson)
Do you really think that’s true? That nothing is sacred but the integrity of your own mind? I’m not sure. Although, I guess the things that are sacred are intangible, so maybe you could argue that they only exist in your mind. Hm. Interesting.
Anyway. I’ve felt pretty alive a bunch of times lately, which is good, because I’ve been thinking a lot about being present and aware of the moment. Sweating till I wanted to throw up – doing yoga under the blue sky – spinning a toddler in circles – it’s all about things like that, isn’t it?
I’m not sure I connect those experiences with the motivation to complete a task, though. Perhaps he means that when you feel alive, you’re focused and energetic? Hm. I’m not sure.
28 June.Â Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles. â€“ Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Write down a major life goal you have yet to achieve or even begin to take action on. For each goal, write down three uncertainties (read: fears) you have relating to each goal. Break it down further, and write down three reasons for each uncertainty. When you have three reasons for your fear, youâ€™ll be able to start processing the change because you know where the fear stems from. Now youâ€™ll be able to make a smaller changes that push you towards your larger goal. So begins the process of â€œtrusting yourself.â€Â (Author:Â Sean Ogle)
I’m not sure if these are getting more personal, or if I’m getting more squeamish about sharing. Perhaps both.
But this exercise is a great one, because it makes you (me) get into the guts of what you’re scared of. When you do actually think things true, what you usually find is that the worst-case scenarios aren’t so very world-ending after all, and a lot of the things you’re most afraid of can look pretty silly out in the light.
29 June.Â Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. â€“ Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Imagine your future self, i.e., you 10 years from now. If he/she were to send you a tweet or text message, 1) what would it say and 2) how would that transform your life or change something youâ€™re doing, thinking, believing or saying today?Â (Author:Â Tia Singh)
2021 Me will be 43 years old. I very much doubt that 2021 Me will be tweeting and texting in any way we’d recognize now, just like 2001 me wouldn’t recognize today’s tweeting and texting. But that’s splitting hairs. I get the point.
I’m not sure that 2001 Me would believe how different some things would be, how similar other things would still be, and what new directions would have cropped up. So I probably would have a hard time fitting 2021 Me’s message in with my vague picture of my future, at first. But it would help me to focus. I’m pursuing quite a few goals right now, because they all matter to me and I want to see them all pan out to a greater degree. I don’t think I’ll still be juggling all these plates in ten years’ time, though, and it would be great to see which ones I ought to throw my heart into most. I’d also love to see what new things will come into my life that I could never expect.
That not being the way the world works, though, I guess we’re back to the “trust” part of this whole mission. I’m just going to keep throwing my heart into the things that I care about and trust that the most important ones will come into focus of their own accord the more I look at them.
30 June.Â Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. â€“ Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Mess up your hair. If you are wearing makeup â€“ smudge it. If you have a pair of pants that dont really fit you â€“ put them on. Put on a top that doesnâ€™t go with those pants. Go to your sock drawer. Pull out two socks that donâ€™t match. Different lengths, materials, colors, elasticity.Â Now two shoes. You know the drill.Â Need to add more? Ties? Hair clips? Stick your gut out? I trust you to go further.Â Take a picture.Â Get ready to post it online.Â Are you feeling dread? Excitement? Is this not the image you have of yourself? Write about the fear or the thrill that this raises in you? Who do you need to look good for and what story does it tell about you? Or why donâ€™t you care?Â (Author:Â Matthew Stillman)
I am no good at this prompt’s intention today because I stopped after “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood?” Because sometimes, yes it is. Like this morning, whenÂ I walked outside – a beautiful, sunny, cool, breezy summer morning – and started to cry.
It was my lilac. It’s silly to cry about a plant. But this lilac got sick and died off completely a couple of years ago, and I begged next-door not to rip it out but to let me try to bring it around. I’ve been researching online and going to the garden store, I’ve bought fertilizer and special lilac medicine, I’ve been weeding and pulling out suckers and sweating buckets to get it healthy. And I really have nursed it back to health. It looks lovely and strong and it’s been shooting up tall. People at the other end of the street have a matching one that never got sick and it’s the size of a tree now. It looks amazing, and my goal was to get this little guy to look like that one someday.
But I came out this morning to see that next-door had pruned the top off. There are wilted Â floppy branch tops littered around that used to be waving up eight feet high.
And I started to cry.Â I was just so upset that what I’ve been working so hard on has been hurt, and if not spoiled, at least set back. I’ve been trying so hard to learn about gardening and take good care of the tiny patch of dirt that I have, and I’ve been so pleased that I’ve been able to do it for the first time in my life.
The thing is, I know next-door has the best intentions in the world. They’re absolutely wonderful neighbors and I’m certain that they thought they were helping. I know they’ll be mortified when I explain it to them, and I hate that I’m going to make them feel badly, so I’m not looking forward to that part of the situation either.
So, yes. While I understand your point, author Matthew Stillman… not seeing the image you expected to see of something you’d been caring about, even when it’s not important to the rest of the world – yes, it does matter sometimes, even when it’s just a little plant.
1 July.Â I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. – Ralph Waldo Emerson.Â Think of all the things that are not working in your life. That job you donâ€™t like, that relationship thatâ€™s not working, those friends that annoy you. Now turn them all on you. Imagine that everything thatâ€™s not working in your life, is your fault. How would you approach it? What would you work on to change your life to the state that you want it to be?Â (Author:Â Carlos Miceli)
Good God, do I love that quote.
Now then, I’m completely confused by this prompt. I already assume that everything that’s not working in my life is my fault. I always have.
Are there people who don’t? Who are they? What are they like?
…also, hasn’t it been 30 days yet?
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