I am a follower of Jesus, a Christian, I attend church – or any other number of different ways it may be helpful for you to think about this big part of my life. A huge part of what this means is living by sharing love and kindness wherever I happen to be. Now, this is different from being ‘nice’ all the time, which is actually unhelpful, and can be dishonest to ourselves and others. What it means is letting others know where they are doing good in their lives, and where they need to put effort in to change and improve. More importantly, it means I need to listen when others let me know of the goodness I am emitting in my life, and where I need to put effort in to improve and change my own behaviour.
Let me ask a potentially divisive question: Regardless of what a person believes, whether the end of our human life is the end of our existence or not, what will we have lost at the end of that life if we have choose to share love and kindness as often as we can?
I would argue we would have lost little, and gained far more than I can write with simple words in this blog post.
This kindness most definitely extends to ourselves, and sometimes has to start there. If we do not look after our own body, mind, and soul, it becomes increasingly difficult to acknowledge stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, resentment, and other debilitating emotions, to accept them as valid for us at that time, and then work on healthily processing them. For me, this means laying these feelings at the feet of Jesus, and remembering my life is better if I assume people are doing the best they can at the time. This is a quote from Brené Brown”s book Rising Strong I return to often. For you, it might mean intensely feeling the emotion, and talking through the reasons why this emotion might be present with a close friend or family member. It might mean going for a long walk and ‘throwing’ the emotion into the ocean. Maybe it means losing yourself in the beauty of birds singing in the forest or park.
Whatever it is, know that working to improve the way we process these seemingly negative emotions in a healthy way will help us live a more fulfilling life. Other bloggers here on WordPress explain how to work through these emotions better than I ever could.
As an example, at present in my life I do not sleep on a healthy regular schedule, nor do I sleep long enough. Over time this impacts my mental health in a big way. At first I don’t realise the changes occurring. But after a few days of sleeping six or fewer hours, my pragmatic perspective towards life starts to fade, and things which are usually automatic start to take a lot more energy to accomplish. I love writing and editing stories, but if I lack sleep it becomes a chore to pick up my pen, and I begin believing anything I write is of poor quality and not worth sharing. This in itself is difficult for me to share, because writing is a wonderfully personal and uplifting way for me to express myself most of the time.
Over the past week I have slipped into sleeping fewer hours than I need because I wanted to finish the first comprehensive edit of my novel manuscript, ‘Balance of Honour’, an epic fantasy journey inspired by Japanese culture and mythology.
Yesterday I finished this edit of my manuscript!
I also only got five and a half hours sleep. I acknowledged this as a decision I had consciously made, and sank into a restful slumber, even thought I knew the coming day would most likely be difficult.
Somehow I managed to get more work done in six hours than I normally would in my eight hour work day. Strange, huh? This does not mean I magically need less sleep than I used to. It means I have some hours of sleep to catch up on, to ensure I right the ship before I slip too far away from equilibrium. (See what I did there, making a reference to one of the key themes in my novel?)
Look after yourself my friends. Trust that saying no, honestly, when a majority of the fibres in our being is encouraging us to, can be a wise decision. Be it saying ‘no’ to playing video games late at night, writing and publishing a blog post on schedule, going to the movies with friends, or going to work on a day we feel under the weather, sometimes it is the right choice.
Go well into your coming week my friends, and keep on keeping on being awesome.