Just about every one of my friends is working on changing something about themselves. I do it too. The stack of self-help books on my nightstand is comical — especially because I can’t stand to read them. I try. I really do. And some of the books are great and inspiring. I start a book and lose interest about ⅓ of the way through. It’s hard enough to stay awake reading in bed, but when it comes to digging into my psyche, it feels like too much work after a full day. I guess I should try to read them during the day, but it’s hard to find the time. After doing the things we HAVE to do, and scheduling time for the things that make us happy (family, friends, hobbies), it’s hard to squeeze in reading time.
I’ve been wondering lately why so many of us are working so hard to “fix” ourselves. In my circle, it’s mostly women who do this, but I do have a handful of guy friends who are also interested in self-improvement. It’s not that I think there is no value in self-improvement, I just wonder if we should spend more time and energy sitting with who we are and finding some peace in that. Here are a few examples…
Some of my friends who are athletes wish they were musical. I have some music ability, but I wish I were more athletic. They think I’m courageous to perform in front of people. I think they’re courageous to take physical risks and compete.
Those of us who are outgoing think we need to learn how to shut up. Those who are quiet or shy feel like we need to learn how to be more social or assertive.
Some parents who stay home to raise children feel like they are less “successful” because they are not engaged in “careers”. Some parents who work outside of the home regret that they’re not spending more time with their kids (that was me).
I think there are endless examples. Whoever we are, we seem to think we should be someone else. While striving to be “better” can be a good thing, how can we do it while also honoring and appreciating who we are?
The other day my dear friend and colleague, Anna, sent me this quote (from a book of course!) and it touched me to my core:
Freedom from struggle
We strive so hard to make our lives the way we want them to be. As you begin this day, imagine that you can give up struggling for a whole day. Relax for a while, and trust that your needs will be met by the natural flow of life.
The philosophy of being here now and letting go of attachment is a very freeing experience. When you do this, you discover that you’re really perfectly okay; in fact you feel quite wonderful. You can just let yourself be, let the world be, and give up to the struggle of trying to change things.
I relax and let myself be.
– Reflections in the Light: Daily Thoughts and Affirmations by Shakti Gawain
I thought this was so beautiful and I’m using it to help me mind my mind. On a related note, several years ago, another dear friend, Tressi, gave me a lovely wind chime that simply says “Be”. It hangs outside my bedroom window and it’s the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning. When the sun is shining, I see the word twice: on the wind chime itself and in it’s shadow on the wall. It’s a great reminder and I want to pass it along to everyone who reads this article.
I also really loved this article from happiness.com and hope you can spare a minute to read it (I know, time is precious but it’s a pretty quick read and I’m always a sucker for a listicle!): 12 ways to practice self-acceptance
I hope you’re having a mindful January and make some time to sit with yourself, appreciate, and just “Be”.
Linda Quon is Vice President and Director of Communication at Quon Design and Communication. Linda is working to promote everyday mental health awareness in partnership with Deschutes County Health Services and Central Oregon Health Council — which includes providers and health advocates from Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes Counties. Linda was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Central Oregon with her husband and two children in 2005. Her mother lived with Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and her oldest brother also experienced bi-polar disorder. With support from family, friends, therapists and primary care providers, Linda has been navigating the world of mental illness most of her life — including her own struggles with mild anxiety and depression. Linda is proud to work as an advocate for mental health and a blogger for Mind Your Mind Central Oregon.