It has been 33 days.
And I can see glimmers of hope, if I stay focused.
I’ve been reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck” by Mark Manson, plus I went on a three-day retreat to Deerwood, MN where I learned about Positive Community Norms, a type of positive-based thinking approach to pretty much anything in life (but this, specifically, is directed towards prevention in teenage alcohol abuse) by Dr. Jeff Linkenbach. Cool dude, incredibly insightful. It’s my belief that the series of events I’ve experienced in these past 33 days along with the combination of exposure to the relevance of the book and the retreat to what is going on in my mind has created the ability to pull things into perspective.
That sounded long-winded, but this is more for my own record keeping than anything else, so there’s that.
Dr. Linkenbach’s work is based in this framework of “Spirit, Science, Action, and Return” along with his “Seven Core Principles” of what he calls Science of the Positive, which are Be Positive, Be Present, Be Perceptive, Be Purposeful, Be Perfected, Be Proactive, and Be Passionate. These two areas of his work actually work together. It’s incredible that I was given an opportunity to learn this information. So, quick shout-out to the state of Minnesota and their Department of Human Services- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division. It really opened my eyes to how I, myself, view things in the world and what a jaded perspective I have on some areas of my life. This specific retreat was about data we had collected from students in our school district and how to share that data with the public. And there’s a lot of communication between the grant work and the public so we were kind of learning how to talk to people, if you will? And it was beneficial to see. When someone gets defensive about something, I now have a way to respond without getting defensive, myself. That’s kinda cool.
Here’s some more info on Dr. Linkenbach’s work, if you’re interested: http://www.montanainstitute.com/what-is-the-science-of-the-positive/
And, during one of our activities, we were asked to share some struggle we’d met and share it with someone else so we could practice being empathetic. I saw one of the gals I’d connected to pretty well having a pretty hard time with this exercise in particular. It was a moment I hope I don’t forget. We’re pretty much strangers, and I saw her crying, her peers were gently rubbing her shoulder, but I could just tell she was looking for a way out of the room, so I went to her and asked if she wanted to go outside for a smoke. I don’t smoke, but I know she did. So we went outside and I’d found out she was going through a world of hurt, herself. There’s more to it, but the main point I wanted to get across was that being human to one another comes first, above anything else. It’s EASY to show anger, or frustration, sorrow, and sadness, but empathy and compassion and understanding take more work, and thus, are seen far less frequently. And those traits are essential to our humanity.
And the book I’m reading is showing me how I can narrow my need and desire to care about so much in a progressive way that gives me direction and intent behind it. Mark Manson talks about the scientific nature of why our minds have become shaped in the way that they have. He speaks that we all have had diversities in our lives that have jaded our perspective and made us privileged in even the most basic ways in our thinking.
It’s helping me to see how to categorize my angry, depressive thoughts and use that energy with purpose. These tools are also showing me that mistakes are going to happen in life, and we truly must try to learn from them (no matter how painful the experience) and live a life with intent instead of mindless meandering.
It’s funny. I think that’s what my mind and spirit have been doing for quite some time. And I look at the title of my blog, “Finding meaning in the mundane,” and it’s true. Without purpose, or intent, or a need to give a solution to a problem, we are in a constant state of dissatisfaction and flux. And that’s totally okay. But that should not stop us from finding that meaning in the most basic things.
For example, yesterday, I got a cake for my friend Steven. He’s moving to Tennesee. I also got party hats and party favors and bubbles. It wasn’t a big deal to celebrate, but it was something to be silly about. And the bubbles. Those bubbles have been putting so much joy into everyone who has used them. I got a big beach bouncy ball for tomorrow’s Mullaly Memorial Day picnic, too, and I was having fun in the backyard with that, as well. An opportunity to have fun is to be embraced, for that moment is fleeting. It’s okay to enjoy, without self-sabotaging yourself with bad habits and temporary highs. We have to take those moments when they come and embrace it. And potentially even share it with others.
It goes back to my favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quote.
“Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you may come back with self-respect, new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.” -R.W.E.
Just a good reminder that not all days are bad. Since I came back on Thursday from this retreat, I’m going to be positive and present and perceptive and purposeful all while not giving too much of a fuck about things I can’t control.