Monday, January 26, 2009

May's Rules for Living Well

I've been working on my personal philosophy and point of view lately, trying to avoid all the ego-driven bullshit I can get caught up on all too easily and trying to be level-headed and calm (or at least calm-ish) when dealing with problems. It's all about observing how I behave and correcting the stupid behaviors, trying to replace them with healthy ways of self-expression or problem solving or what have you. To that end, I've set up some simple "rules" for myself to try and follow - I'm always trying to have the happiest life I can and these seem to be working:

1. Feel Your Feelings
I spent a lot of time repressing what I felt in my life and because of it I ended up with a butt-load of angst, depression and emotional frigidity. PLUS it turns out feelings don't go away if you just ignore them. Time was, I'd start feeling pissy, sad or some other negative emotion and I'd just respond by being upset I was feeling that way. That ended up creating a stupid cycle of icky feelings that would keep reinforcing themselves until I'd eventually freak out or else drink them away. Now, I just accept that life isn't all pooping rainbows and when I feel badly for some reason I give myself space to feel those emotions. Turns out when you listen to your emotions, you can examine them more closely which has led to alot of problem-solving or just simply deciding to not be upset anymore because it isn't worth it. All in all it's helped me be more balanced, less demanding and more forgiving of myself and others.

2. Expect Problems
We'd all like life to be sunshine and roses, but it's generally not and I've found that the expectation of having good things happen to us can cause really bitchy attitudes when something bad does happen. The whole "why do bad things happen to good people" question can be answered simply: bad things just happen. It's still wonderful to expect goodness, but if you only expect that, any little thing that goes wrong can derail you very easily. Accepting bad things as part of what makes me unique has helped me to view bad things as opportunities for personal growth. It's taken me a long time to get here, but I finally agree with the statement "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." Also, when taken with rule #1, these things tend to be easier to deal with.

3. Love Yourself
I keep finding out that the most important love I can experience is self-love (and while I don't specifically mean masturbation, I'm sure that helps). No matter what else is going on in my life, if I'm not in love with myself I'm a pretty unhappy person. I spent years searching for the approval of other people and denying and it sucked. Then I started to focus on making myself happy first and then others and things are working much better for me now. Self-love for me includes rebutting the "you're not good enough" type voices in my head with positive messages that I know are true about myself (whether or not I'm feeling it at the time); making sure to put as much energy into comforting myself when I am sad/upset/etc. as I would put into another person I love; and finding the best things about myself to celebrate. All this makes me a less needy person, which is really good seeing as I'm already an attention whore.

4. Keep an Open Mind and Heart
While keeping an open mind comes naturally to me since I'm a crazy-ass reader and I love to know about people and experiences I'll never know personally, but keeping an open heart is harder for me. I picked up a lot of critical bitchiness from being in college and picking apart other people's stories and ideas and then I discovered how cranky that makes me. It took me a little bit to stop my ego from automatically responding to everything I see, but now I feel I've gotten to a place where I'm more accepting of others. It's made me friendlier and happier and reduced the amount of stress I was putting on myself. Turns out judging others really is bad for you.

Do you have any "rules" to live by?

Related posts:
Would We Like You When You're Angry?
Thoughts on Learning by Experience
FAILure and Humor

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JOCOeveryman said...

Looks like your Baptist upbringing did do something for you. I'm sure that will rankle you a bit but I can't help it.

Some of this wisdom looks strangely familiar???

Unfortunately, many, many zealots get it all wrong. Just because they don't do it right doesn't mean the message is wrong.

Good for you.

May said...

Actually, my Baptist upbringing did little to nothing to get me to this place. I had to work really hard to even like myself because they were constantly telling us that humans were worthless and that was a huge part of my self-esteem I had to find before I was able to start loving myself. This wisdom may seem familiar, but I certainly didn't find it in my religious upbringing. I found it in much philosophy reading and soul-searching.

Mark said...

You have expressed some very good insight about yourself. You ask if I have rules, I wouldn't call them rules for myself. The word "rules" is a turn off for me, sounds limiting, even though your rules are not limiting, however limiting because what happens if I break a rule, hmmmm. No rules per say, I do practice living in love and doing no harm among other things. I figure if I can practice these two things everything else falls into place. Thanks for making me think.

Eric said...

I would say my personal mantras mirror your own (that might be a given). This actually reads like a blog I would write, in the hypothetical sense. Just with different personal experiences. I could go into it, but I won't now. Great Post.

Jessica said...

My Dearest May,
You and I have always had this link of experiences and feelings. I grew up with pretty much the same things going on in my thoughts as you describe.
I was horribly depressed and always searching for happiness, yet somehow I did not even notice I was feeling that way. Only now that I look back to those times do I realize the bad shape I was in. I love this post.

I am very happy that I met Eric, because I really feel that he has influenced me in one of the strongest ways, and he inspires me to do my best, yet accepts me when I get off track. I might not have ever met you if it wasn't for him. I am so happy that I know you and love you!

As for rules, I am enjoying yours, so I will adopt those. One thing that I have had a hard time with is accepting that I cannot change everything or everyone. I realize that there will be people that will not like me, no matter how nice I am to them, etc... I may try to write a blog of my own on that subject.

Nice post, sweetie! <3 Jess