Yesterday I was deep in conversation with a friend. Let’s call him Art.
For the past 10 years, Art had lived and worked overseas, where he had created a name for himself and his indie performances. But a few months ago, he moved back to Australia to help his ailing dad.
Art is in his 40s. He had used up all his savings to invest in his projects, and now this unforeseen return home put him financially in the red.
Because he couldn’t afford outings or accommodation, Art found himself housebound and living with his parents – people who weren’t supportive of his work, and made his life difficult in the past for not conforming to their ideals of success.
But one of the main blows for Art was his projects also suffered, since he didn’t have his creative networks within reach to collaborate with, or his trusty fans to perform to.
Art was teetering on a dangerous edge, mentally.
“If I didn’t do anything about it,” he pronounced, “I knew I’d find myself spiralling into a dark, deep depression.”
Looking at At’s smiling face, I asked, “So, how did you turn things around?”
“By focusing on making each day a success and writing down every little triumph I had,” he replied.
Art doesn’t recall how he got the idea, but he says it’s what made him get out of his funk.
By focusing on and writing down his daily, run-of-the-mill achievements, he felt worthy. Worthy enough to create, live, be who he is.
What did Art’s successes look like? “Writing,” he had recounted. “Sometimes painting, cooking, and taking a walk. The key was jotting it down.”
Art went on to get a casual job in a café – so he can afford life’s little luxuries, like enjoying a cup of coffee and eating out with a friend occasionally. He also creates his art every single day.
Hearing my friend’s story, I realised that anyone – even if their circumstances aren’t that dire – could benefit from writing down their successes daily. They don’t have to be grandiose ones either. Think caring for someone, vacuuming, fitting in some exercise, calling a friend. Heck, some days it could just be getting out of bed and having a shower.
So yesterday, at the end of the day, I took a leaf out of Art’s book and wrote down my small wins of the day:
Doing 25 minutes of yoga at home, using my favourite app.
My three-hour deep-and-meaningful chat with Art, over coffee and a nutritious bowl of goodness, all of which fed my soul.
Taking my dogs to the park, even when I was tired and didn’t feel like it (looking at their happy faces as they ran around aimlessly made me feel glad that I did).
Changing the template of my blog for a fresh start, now that the plan was to write more in 2018.
Cooking the lamb skewers we had for dinner to perfection – not chewy at all!
Reading a few pages of The Happiness Project – I have read it a couple of times, and it makes for a motivating read at the beginning of a new year.
It was gratifying experience. It’s the little stuff, daily, that matters, that makes a life, I realised. Thank you, Art, for this invaluable life lesson.
Life is full of little victories if you choose to see them. And by writing them down, you get a boost. A pat on the back. Something we all need from time to time to keep on keeping on.
I’ll be writing my daily successes in a journal for the next few weeks to see how it makes me feel. Want to try it, too?