The Potential to Make Yourself Better
A few nights ago, I sat down to write this blog. It ended up going a little sideways, but there was still a message inside here that I wanted to talk about. It's the potential to make yourself better, or more specifically, the potential inside me to make myself better.
It took a me a long time to realize that any given moment is an opportunity to change the way I think, live, and aspire. Every morning, when I wake up, I make conscious decisions that aren't always easy. About a year ago, I read this interesting article on StarTrek.com about Anson Mount's portrayal of Captain Pike in Star Trek: Discovery. The article, goes into detail on why a good, righteous character seems to refreshing in a world of anti-heroes. As the tagline to the article states, “It turns out that the story of a good man is still one that's worth telling.”
One of the aspects of the article that stuck with me for so long is the concept that it's difficult to choose to be good. Everyday, you wake up and make a choice on whether to be good or bad. A choice of being rude of polite. A choice to love or hate. We make hundreds if not thousands of these choices everyday and it's an accumulation of those choices that make up the very being that we are. I like to think that there are always better choices to be made deep down inside, it just takes courage and effort to make them.
When I realized my mental health was declining far quicker than I could handle, I made the decision to purchase a book called Mind Over Moods. It not the most revolutionary book I've ever read (like the reviews promised) but it gives me something to work on everyday or every couple of days, which keeps me focused on improving my mental health. I think that sort of consistently is what garners the most results. Ya know, the whole practice makes perfect idea.
Somewhere around fifteen years ago, I read a book on Wicca. I like learning about different religions and cultures, and this book was pretty enlightening. It helped rectify some of my false beliefs about the religion/lifestyle/philosophy but what I took most from it was the idea of casting a spell. See, in my mind, I assumed that Wiccan's casting spells closer resembled cosplay or wishful thinking than anything that would actually be helpful. But I remember the example the book gave for a money spell. It was simple, everyday when the person came home from work, they'd place a dime in a dish next to a green candle (to represent money) and then light the candle. That was it, that was the spell.
Now, this isn't near as interesting as anything I've ever seen on television, however, I saw where it could be useful. The idea of keeping up with a dime daily and making an intentional act in placing the dime and lighting the candle, meant that how you handled money was always on your mind, or at least it was once a day. This sort of daily reminder could easily guide into making better choices, which could in return, help grow your bank account. I see it as a sort of WWJD bracelet for Wiccans.
Those daily practices may not make perfect, but they do making improvements in your life. So, I've been attempting to utilize as many as I can to help me better myself.
Another daily tactic I'm using is listening to podcasts that can inspire or teach me better ways to handle the struggles of daily life. I recall a few years ago when I had a much longer drive to work, I'd rotate out the podcasts I listened to almost daily, but I always kept a Buddhist teaching and What's This Tao All About in my rotation. It was almost as if I was attending church during those drives and it gave me new tools in my toolbox to manage everyday life.
As my commute shortened, the amount of time I spent listening to podcasts or talks of this nature dropped dramatically as did my interest in these topics. I stopped making time for them and in result, I stopped feeling the positive effects from them as well.
Nowadays, I listen to podcasts while I'm working and I like smaller podcasts that get right to the point. So, I've been listening to the Stoic Coffee Break amongst a few other Stoic philosophy based podcasts. These short bite sized lessons are easy to consume and almost always gives me something to think about in regards to my own reactions in life. Most importantly, because the lessons are short, I'm able to listen to them on almost a daily basis which like the green candle and dime, it helps keep my mind focused on being present and working through my emotions.
Things aren't perfect in my life, nor will they ever be, but I feel like I'm working towards being a better person and being the type of person who can handle adversity a little bit better. I plan on talking about the role of hope in a future blog and how that has played a positive role in helping bring me out of this funk.