Love Better and You Will Be Better by the Act Alone

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

— Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

 

Humans are social creatures, and we need to feel connected, understood, cared about, and loved, and we need it like we need food, water, and air. We’ll do anything to get it, and when we get it, we’ll do amazing and ugly things to keep it. Sure, being loved makes you want to be better, it’ll make you want to do the right thing, be the hero, be the bigger person, but when you can’t, it only makes you better at hiding who you are.

When we love someone we want to give them our very best. It’s normal and completely understandable. We do it because they deserve it, and, if we’re being honest, we do it because we are afraid to lose them. We hide the truth of who we really are and give them a storybook version we long to believe in ourselves, but the truth is you are not made only of giving and grace. You are also selfish, needy, angry, frustrated, sad, scared, and stupid, but none of that is very loveable is it? So it has to go away. We cut it out and pack it away, and we believe it’s gone forever.

Love has made us better, right?

Sadly, no. What happens when we cut ourselves in two like that, banishing one half to the crawl space, is that all that ugly only festers. When there is no one to check its size and power it grows, and it learns there are other ways out. Emotional baggage, childhood trauma, and all that fucking fear twists itself up into unrecognizable shapes and re-emerges in strange, troubling, abusive, and suffocating ways and the more of you it takes over, the more of yourself you hide, and humans will tend to be the worst versions of themselves in secret.

When you care for someone, you have to face your truth and learn to be your whole self, and you have to do it continuously if you want to have any hope of being your best self for them.

The truth is you are not perfect, and your loved ones should know that. Not just because honesty is always the best policy, or even because by hiding so much of yourself in dark and damp corners you allow the worst parts of yourself to fester, but because you cannot really love someone if you are faking who you are. It is through wanting to love someone well, rather than wanting to be loved that we strive to become better versions of ourselves.

Here “striving” means failure and fucking up out in the open for all to see but learning from it and trying again and again to do the right thing and “better” means a more whole, healthy, and authentic you. Real, healthy, fulfilling and freeing love comes out of growth. It’s a process, and it can’t happen in the dark. Love can’t happen in the dark.

But we’ve been doing it all backward. We’re trying to be better for love rather than allowing the act of loving to make us better. We are trying to be worthy of receiving love rather than becoming the biggest and best source of love we can be. My God we are doing it all wrong.

I hate to say it so plainly, but getting someone to love you is among the easiest things to do in this life. It’s as easy as a few well-placed lies and a bit of clever manipulation. No human has ever proven themselves above using such tactics. Hell, I would go so far as to say such shady strategies have been encouraged. Society has turned love and friendship into games people play, and in our need and greed, we’ve forgotten the whole point.

Being loved is no confirmation of how good, beautiful, smart, funny, or valuable you are. The truth of who a person is always shown in how they love. And when we combine honesty with all that love we have to give, we give the kind of love that is real and right and finally become that person we have been pretending to be all along.

But you can only do that by being your whole self first. Bring all your ugliness into the light and love the best you can, with all you have, right now, then growing as you become wise, confident, secure, and happy.

Strive to love better, and you will become better by the act alone.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a cup of coffee.

Featured photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

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Monday Motivation // Act Like the Person You Want to Be

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting nothing more than to crawl back into bed and escaping the world.

But, let’s try something different. From now on Mondays are the days when we get to start all over again. All the bad things that happened last week don’t matter anymore. This is our second chance, and this time, we might just get it right.

From now on Monday’s are for making the changes we want to see in ourselves.

For me, this Monday is turning out to be a sweet relief from the stress and sickness I experienced all of last week. Already I feel better, my workload is lightened, I have energy, and I am focused. Today, I think, will be a good writing day. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for it either. I am over 4,000 short of my NaNoWriMo word goals and still figuring out where my plot is going and who the hell these characters actually are.

“Tell yourself first of all what kind of person you want to be, and then act accordingly in all that you do. For in almost every other pursuit we see this to be the course that is followed.”

— Epictetus, Discourses

For a long time I have day-dreamed about being the kind of person who wakes up early in the morning, drinks a ton of coffee, and writes anywhere from 500 to 2,500 words in my sophisticated home office until noon. I would then eat a healthy lunch and spend the early

I would then eat a healthy lunch and spend the early afternoon hours doodling, listening to podcasts, blogging, tweeting, and reading. The dog and I would walk around the neighborhood before dinner and my girlfriend, and I would spend the rest of the night on the couch in front of the TV. I’ll wrap up with some desert and journal writing.

This is my ideal day and I’d very much like to live it every day. It will be a long time before I can do it—if I ever can—but I live it as closely as I can in the hopes that not only does practice make perfect but that the steps I take trying to live that way now will get me closer to my perfect vision later.

I wake up early and even though I have to go to my day job rather than my sophisticated home office, I still pretend. I am lucky enough to work at a job when I am often getting paid when there is no particular task for me to be doing. Plus, the hours I do have are split-shift, so I regularly have large blocks of time to write when my mind is at its most creative and productive.

I write, I drink coffee, I eat lunch, I go for walks, and I blog and tweet, all in as close a proximity to the time I wish I could be doing them from home.

I am lucky that my life allows me to spend a great deal of time pretending I am already the writer I hope to be one day.

In addition, I talk about writing and the kind of life I’d like to live as often as I can. I tell others what I am doing and why. I encourage them to get in touch with their creative sides and to daydream and pretend they are living their perfect lives already too. I do this because I see other creatives do it. They did it for me. They say the secret to being the person you want to be is to accept that you are that person now and to live accordingly. What better way to accept a truth than to spread that truth around?

I try to be a writer, a real writer, in all that I think and do. I want to be a good person, a successful person, a fulfilled and proud one too. I strive to think of myself as already being that person and day by day, minute by minute, the more I do it, the more I change, and I can see now that one day soon I won’t have to pretend so much anymore.

This week I encourage you to the same. Do it for you, but do it for me too. The more I see it, the more I believe it, and I need a dose of faith to keep it going.

***

So yeah, I have a newsletter. Sign up, k? :)

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Featured image via Unsplash

Monday Motivation // Be Thankful

Good Monday morning to you all! I hope you had a good weekend and I hope you have meet the work week well. I know Mondays are the hardest day of the week. I know Mondays are the hardest days to like. I know that we are all conditioned to drag our feet and maintain a negative outlook but that really isn’t good way to live. I say it’s a huge waste of the short time you have on this earth to go on hating one day out of every week. I say let’s work every Monday to start the week off right.

This Monday is the first of the holiday season, a very stressful time for many families. That stress could be lessened if we’d all get back to remembering what this season is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about giving thanks for what we have and helping others who have less. I am not a big fan of the Thanksgiving story, the one where the Pilgrims and the Native Americans come together to feast and give thanks, mainly because it is completely false, but I do agree with the sentiment, and I do think it’s good to spread it.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough”

Oprah Winfrey

This week I am trying to get back into the swing of things after taking off a whole week of work. I woke up sad my break was over and angry I had to go back to work doing a job that is not fulfilling. I quickly realized this was a poor way to view my life. I realized I was being very ungrateful for all the good things I have that many others don’t. I might not always like my job but compared to many other people in many other places around the world I am lucky and quite rich.

This morning I wanted to put my money into perspective, I googled “where am I on the global wealth scale”. The first result was a link for the Global Rich List, and oh man did that make me feel bad. I won’t divulge my income but I can tell you that according to this site, globally I am sitting in the top 1 to 2 percent. That isn’t even including my girlfriends income, and she makes considerably more than me. I am rich and working a cushy job and I woke up complaining. How horrible am I?

I have clean water and heat on demand. I have good food, I have clothes, I have a stable roof over my head, and I generally feel safe where I live and work. I can vote, I can take people to court who wrong me, and I can move about freely in the world. I am not religious but the best word to describe my station in life is blessed.

So this week I am going to remember to be thankful for what I have. I am going to remember that while I sometimes forget how lucky I am, there are those who would gladly switch places with me. I will stop taking my life for granted. I will stop complaining so damn much. I will do this because when we are always wanting more and more in life we forget to look behind us and help those who need our help the most. We forget that while we are complaining about not having the newest and the best there are some who are just trying to survive.

A Week of Beginnings

Good morning dearies! Welcome to the work week! I hope you have your coffee and your smiles ready, it’s going to be a rough one. If your anything like me you have copious amounts of coffee but no smiles to give yet. Check back with me around 10:00, I might have one for you then.

For now my anxiety is sky high and my energy levels are very low.

This week is all about new beginnings. I work for the transportation department of a school district here in Colorado as a school bus assistant and, sadly, our lazy summer days have come to an end. Today we have received our route assignments we are starting to practice. A new year means new kids, a new driver, new hours, and all new rules!

I am afraid that the route I bid will turn out to be bad. I am afraid I will mess up and be labeled a bad assistant. I am afraid that I made the wrong decision.

But just because beginnings are tough doesn’t mean we don’t start, and it doesn’t mean we don’t try to start off right.

This week is also the beginning of a new year for me and my girlfriend. We are going to be celebrating our 13 year anniversary this coming weekend. If I can get my shit together and book a hotel room that is. I also have a ton of cleaning to do in the house and I have to begin packing everything. I’m such a procrastinator.

I do look forward to starting a new year with her, which leads me to the newest new beginning for us.

This week my girlfriend will begin working her new position. For many years we worked together in the same place and the same position, then, last summer, she got a big promotion, which changed everything. Last week she aced another interview and got yet another promotion. I expect everything will change again, especially because now she will be working at a different location.

I am probably being a bit dramatic but I have a hard time with change. I am trying to go into this with positive thoughts. I think this position will make her happier than the one she is in now. Plus it means more money for us which is always good. Unfortunately I can’t shake this nagging feeling of impending doom. I am scared of what the future will bring for us.

But onward and upward, right? The future comes whether we like it or not and it is better to face it head on than to cower and wait for it to find you unaware. I must be brave!

This week is going to be a busy one, as you can see. I have a ton on my plate so please forgive me if I’m not around as much. I may have to put writing on the back burner so I can focus on all the changes. I’m not happy about it though.

Sigh…

But enough about me, what are your plans for the week? Leave a comment to let me know :)

Quote via Propensity for Curiosity

I Don’t Want to Hate Mornings Anymore

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“Some people wake up drowsy. Some people wake up energized. I wake up dead.”

― John Marsden, Tomorrow, When the War Began

I hate, hate, hate waking up early in the morning. Everybody hates mornings, I know, but I’m not talking about 7:00 am early, I’m talking about 4:00 am early! I have to be at work by 5:15 so waking up at 4:00 gives me an hour to get ready, leave, and get to work in about 15 minutes. Me and Chardonnay work together and while that is convenient in some parts of our lives it can cause problems in the mornings. Two girls trying to get ready at the same time is rough.

The thing is, I don’t want to hate mornings anymore. I want to start starting my days off right. My first problem is waking up late. The alarm is set for 4:00 but I usually press snooze two or three times. Then I find myself rushing to find something to wear, take a shower, and get my breakfast and lunch together for the day. Then I am in a bad mood….And then I feel like a failure….And then I get sad and cry. I have been struggling with this problem for years. I am running late 4 out of 5 days a week. It seems so simple, just get up on time. It’s the fact that it should be so easy that makes me feel like I am just a failure and I am never going to be able to get my poop in a group and have easy, enjoyable mornings.

In an ideal world no one would talk before 10 am. People would just hug, because waking up is really hard.

— Zooey Deschanel

A lot of people tell me to just stop pressing snooze, to just get up, but the thing is, sometimes I press it in my sleep, and sometimes it doesn’t even wake me up. My girlfriend struggles too so it’s not like one of us can encourage the other much. We are both making the same mistakes. Eventually she will say that we are late and we’d better get up. She gets up first because she showers first. I get up less than 10 minutes later and get my clothes picked out and put into the dryer.

I try to have a cup of juice then because I had heard that sometimes, when you feel too tired in the mornings, it’s because you have low blood sugar. A coworker told me that it worked for him and since I’ve started it I have noticed a tiny improvement. I’ve also tried buying soaps that have very strong yet pleasant smells. Things like grapefruit face washes and lemongrass bar soaps have really helped. I rush through my shower, cover myself in coconut oil, brush my teeth, get dressed and try to throw some kind of breakfast together. More often than not I am late before I can get to the breakfast and I rush out of the door without one.

I want to start my day feeling refreshed and positive. I want to feel like I can tackle any task. With everything I am trying to change in my life I need to start the day off right. Starting the day with negativity and bad vibes will only make accomplishing my goals all the more difficult. I recognize that this is something I need help with so my first step is to get my girlfriend on board. We get up together and if we could motivate and push each other that would really help. I also recognize that we both need help so I took to the internet and found a couple of articles with some ideas I might try out.

I have been trying to imporove my mornings for a long, long time but the inspiration for trying some new ideas and actually writing this post came from a Thought Catalog post, 14 Morning Rituals That (Seem a Little out There but) Will Totally Change Your Life by Briana Wiest. It’s a list of just that, things that make mornings better but that you hadn’t really thought of. There were 3 that really stood out for me:

Set intentions. Setting intentions doesn’t quite mean setting up the things you intend to do that that day, it’s more like setting up the how, how do you intend approach your tasks. Intentions might be things like having less anxiety, completing important tasks first, etc., etc.

Make a list of your most basic tasks and cross them off as you do them. Basic as in “get up”, “brush your teeth”. It isn’t a list of reminders, it’s a list of accomplishments. For people like me this can mean a great deal. I am failing at these most basic tasks so this might work well for me.

Bonus: Take Epsom salt baths.There is no way I would ever have time for this in the morning but it sounds like a really nice idea. Soaking in a nice warm, soothing bath while the salt pulls all the impurities from my body and eases and relaxes my muscles. Sounds like an amazing way to start the day!

After that I decided to head on over to my go-to site for advice on any aspect of my life, Zen Habits. The site, run by Leo Babauta, is all about simplifying and improving your life, being mindful, and making good habits. Zen Habits has changed my life, stay tuned for a post or two devoted to the site and it’s creator in the near future. ANYWAY, so I searched Zen Habits and found an article titled The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early. This post seems to be geared more toward people who are trying to get up earlier to accomplish something and I am just trying to get up on time. Still though, I did find a couple of useful pieces of advice.

Get excited. Get excited the night before about something you want to do the next day, then in the morning think of that thing and it should help you get out of bed.

Meditate. I like this idea but I am not sure I have time in the morning for it. Maybe if I could squeeze in 3-5 minutes of “doing nothing, just sitting, and practicing mindful focus” it might make me feel less rushed. Starting the day with a clearer head might really help. If nothing else my mood would be greatly improved.

If I had to choose I think I would start with the list of my most basic tasks, or maybe the meditation. the list would be nice because I would have the feeling of accomplishment. I would feel like less of a failure in the morning if I could look at a list full of check marks. The meditation would be nice because I want to meditate anyway! I could couple that with the item above and set intentions while I was at it….I’m getting a head of myself. ONE habit at a time, no combining habits all at one. Tack a habit and add to it only when it has become a true habit. Done almost automatically and without difficulty.

I think I will start with the list of basic tasks. It is simple and easy and will make me feel good. I will compile the list tonight and I will work on it this week. I let you all know how it goes. Then I will work on it for the next month, and I will let you all know how that goes. Then I will tackle another habit, and another, until my mornings are running butter smooth!

Waking early is one of my favorite things in the world.

— Leo Babauta

So how do you do it? How do you wake up in the morning? Any tips and tricks you can offer would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you!