How did you turn your life around?
May 13, 2007 7:55 PM   Subscribe

How did you turn your life around? I'm looking for inspiring stories and general patterns. Be as philosophical or as specific as you like.

I'm not looking for things like giving up drug/drink/abusive mate; those don't apply in my case. I'm also not looking to find religion, except perhaps in some metaphorical sense like finding a mission in life.

Closer to it might be your attitude toward life and people, liking life and facing the stuff that happens everyday. Changing from wanting to stay in bed to being one of those people who can't wait to get their day started.

How did you do it? What really worked for you?

posted by DarkForest to Religion & Philosophy (27 answers total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
First, drugs so I stopped doing things that were actively self-destructive and quit doing the one-step forward two-steps back spiral. The shrinks helped. And I got a dog, who I adore even though she's a brat.... she's a *loveable* brat.
posted by SpecialK at 8:26 PM on May 13, 2007

Best answer: Well.... I know you explicitly stated that you're not interested in hearing about religion - but I did recently turn my life around in a pretty serious way... I wasn't bonked on the head by the Jesus or anything, but the church did play kind of a critical role...

I think it's sort of interesting to write about this as well, as you shall see, because AskMe has really been there every single step of the way. This also gives me a really awesome, much needed break from writing my term papers.

After I graduated college I married the love of my life and decided I would set out upon that grand journey called "American prosperity," or the Dream or some other such nonsense. I had everything figured out. I had a nice four-year degree, a stunning, upwardly-mobile spouse, and a really great job handed to me right out of college.
I worked at this really great job for approximately eight months, while I enjoyed my marriage, my new house, and all the benefits that being a white person and wearing a suit every day can possibly get you.

Throughout my life my relationship with my father was probably the most important "current" in the river. He was pretty much my personal hero and I took all his advice as gospel. In fact, I almost was unable to act without his advice. I called him constantly. After he died, quite unexpectedly, I immediately and instinctively dialed his cellphone (in my numbness) to find out how to handle a funeral. His death left me feeling extremely vulnerable. The day he died, I found out my wife was having an extra-marital affair and about a week later my friend shot himself. She bailed out of the whole situation pretty quickly.
I know you're probably thinking - "This guy is going to tell me about how shitty things automatically cause you to get your life together" but it's really about something else. I promise.

Over the course of the week, after my father died, my older brother (who lives quite some distance from me but still serves as a great resource) was pretty concerned that I would let my job go completely to waste. He (and the rest of the family) was very pleased with the success I'd met with after college and was very supportive. I was in a sales position, and was doing quite well, and I think they really believed that what I needed was to focus on myself. In a way, they were right. But what ended up happening was that I got drunk the night of my buddy's wake and I drove my new car into a tree and got arrested for drunk driving. And that night, the night I spent in jail, was probably the greatest night of my life.
Because, I realized, quite utterly, that nothing I had "accomplished" was really doing anything for the welfare of the world at large.
I also remember something that I had suppressed. I remembered that when I was a little boy I used to idolize the minister at my parent's church.
I remembered what a wonderful, intelligent, scholarly and gentle man he was. I remembered hanging out at his office.
All through highschool and at the start of college I was a pretty outspoken atheist. Later this tempered down to a low-level agnosticism. (Atheism is bad for sales). Anyway, it wasn't like I had a crazy religious conversion (that had happened years before - though I had carefully denied it and kept it from myself) - but rather, that I had a moment of absolute clarity, when all of things I had built up in my life were totally stripped away. I was like a naked baby in that jail cell, but with my wits totally about me, I realized that the only way I would ever be able to find peace in my life was through the complete and lifelong pursuit of social justice. And that memory of that minister was right there in my head.

I divorced my wife and let my job fall apart. I sort of just stopped selling advertising and rode out the tail end of my commissions. On my friends advice, I took a job mowing lawns for a commercial landscaping company. It helped me learn to live without money and it got me outdoors for a summer. I applied to go to graduate school for divinity and approached the new senior minister at that old church from my childhood. I told him my story and he gave me a job that would fit around my graduate school schedule.

I love my new job. I love working in the church. And I feel completely, soul-quenchingly alive, every second of the day. And I really, really love studying scripture and preaching.
I haven't quite figured out what the final form of my social justice ministry will look like, but I feel as though I'm on the right track.

So, in summary, take a moment and try to strip away all the things you've done that you felt obligated to do. Slowly draw all the curtains aside. Get at the root of what makes you a person. And try to think back to your childhood, to those people who truly inspired you. And then ask yourself, "Is this course I've charted really going to lead me to the city at the end of the river? Or am I still boat-building?"
I traded my boat for an innertube and I'm sort of just floating with the current now, rather than trying to sail against it to the place everyone else thought I needed to go to.
I'm very, very happy.

And I'm also grateful for AskMe because I've always gotten answers that seemed heartfelt and honest and, most importantly, non-judgemental and loving.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 8:29 PM on May 13, 2007 [36 favorites]

During the one major depression I've experienced, it was necessary for me to force myself out of bed for several months before I began enjoying life again. Motivation came from constant self-reminder that if I wasn't proactive I'd never improve my situation. I'm trying to think of a way to effectively convey my method of overcoming the malaise that initially prevented me from doing anything. At first I was as unhappy being proactive as I was wallowing in my misery, but I managed to get traction through this constant litany of "if you don't get off your ass nothing will improve." I guess I succeeded through a logical override of my useless emotional state. I focused narrowly on several aspirations that I remembered making me happy before the depression and actually became quite productive. For a while I was so emotionally exhausted that I felt like I was no longer capable of feeling. This numbness actually helped me stick to my routine, so I embraced it for as long as it lasted (maybe not healthy). I forced myself to continue my exercise regimen and found myself enjoying exercise much sooner than I enjoyed everything else. Endorphins are powerful stuff. Exercise out in nature was the best; mountain biking always lifted my spirits a little no matter how bad I was. Eventually perseverance paid off and I started feeling whole again. I guess my contribution is a reminder that this will be an endurance effort by necessity.

My depression was triggered by a series of traumatic events. Yours sounds like it might be more of a creeping thing, so I'm not sure how well my experience and methods translate.

I spent a lot of time hanging out in a new coffee shop that had a good initial vibe. At first I just hid behind my laptop and soaked in the feel of other people enjoying themselves. Eventually I felt able to engage myself socially and started making friends and having interesting conversations.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 8:37 PM on May 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

(A way to get more answers: There have been a bunch of threads on sort of similar topics. It might be interesting to look through all the old threads tagged "life" for example, by clicking on the tag in the top right corner of your post.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:49 PM on May 13, 2007

Where do you live? In a depressing megalopolis perhaps? Even if you don't, a change of surroundings is good way to make a clean break and start your life new.

I'm afraid without religion, or something similar you may never find a true "mission in life", just something to distract yourself with until you die.
posted by parallax7d at 8:49 PM on May 13, 2007

A previous comment of mine tells one of my main theories of life. I find it very helpful in making and reaching goals. It could turn your life around, I guess. :)
posted by The Deej at 8:50 PM on May 13, 2007

Best answer: I was borderline suicidal for a number of years when I was younger. I stopped contemplating suicide when I finally realized one day that I didn't want to die so much as I wanted to not be in so much pain. That realization took care of the suicide option for me, but didn't help getting rid of the pain. In the course of a long series of bad decisions, I ended up going to some Narcotics Anonymous meetings with a spouse (narcotics were not my issue, but the spouse was). I went to a couple of meetings where they would ship in people from prison and I heard prostitutes and hard core criminals stand up and talk about how they had turned their life around and how they had found meaning. Somehow this moved me more deeply than I had ever thought possible.

Somewhere at the same time, I read or heard someone say that a lot of depression stems from not feeling grateful. I started doing these corny exercises where I would try to list everything I felt grateful for in my life. At different 12 step programs, they also talk about Acting As If. If you act as if you can make it, you eventually will. I found a book called The Seat of the Soul; I found another book called The Nature of Reality, and I found a third book called Return To Love.

I would say that the average person would look at my life and think what a loser I appear to be. That's cool. It's my life. But I think to myself, I still may lay around in bed a lot and moan, and I still make bad and/or shitty decisions, but the fact that I haven't slit my wrists, and the fact that I get up every morning and make it to work and do my best, and that once in a while I'm able to give a homeless person some money, or I'm able to be kind sometimes and let someone cut into traffic in front of me, means that I'm actually doing really well. Something did change for me - I know I got lucky somehow.
posted by gt2 at 8:54 PM on May 13, 2007 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I just needed time. To acknowledge that it's entirely ok to be in a funk and get in a rut and be depressed and wig the fuck out sometimes.

In my senior year of high school (9 years ago) I hit a bad funky spot. A lot of little things triggered some awful depression. Mostly though, I missed my mom, who died from cancer when I was 10. She died on a Sunday, I was back in school on Tuesday. While trying to resume normalcy then seemed like an ok idea, it came back to hit me hard. Feeling inadequate, feeling angry (at her, at god, at life), not really being suicidal per say (mostly out of cowardice, not because I joyously wanted to live), but I'd frequently wish to die - to be that random accident. I dropped out senior year in like November, was "found out" and went back for a few weeks in January, then dropped out again, until my guidance counselor took an amazing role to help me get by with the bare minimums. I graduated, though barely, but I graduated. I only looked at my senior year grades about 2 months ago (will explain why later on). There were a lot of F's. A lot. I was still an emotional mess.

Being the daughter of immigrants who hung out with other immigrants who were parents of super-successful kids, I was (hell I still am) the community fuck-up. The weirdo one (there's always one in our 'communities) - I was it. In that year, for whatever reason, I even adopted the hijab (I was Muslim). I was looking for something to associate with, a niche I felt a part of, and feeling rather lonely realizing how much I felt lacking with losing a mother as a kid, and having an emotionally abusive, exhausting, mentally unstable dad.

For four years, I did odd and end jobs. The kids of parents in my "community" were prim and proper and successful, going to good colleges, getting married, and I was ringing stuff up at the cash register in the mall.

Those four years were filled with a lot of - so, when are you going to go back to school? What are you going to do with your life? etc etc etc. I applied back to school, without telling a soul. Because it was *mine* - not done for the expectations of others. So I went to a large, public, state school that's often considered just a step up from community college. But I went.

Found a field that I loved in my first semester, declared major #1. Found a second major that I loved, declared major #2. Studied abroad as a bit of an older student. Sure I had my bad days, but I *loved* registering for classes, writing papers, reading, etc. LOVED it. loved. Not engineering, or biology, or interested in law - but the humanities and social sciences.

I graduated a year ago, with a good GPA. Applied to grad school. And this fall, I'll be going to Harvard.

Me, the girl who dropped out of high school, went back for a little, dropped out again, and couldn't bare to look at my final grades till 2 months ago (after I found out I was admitted with a decent grant to study at Harvard). The weird one, the fuck-up one, the one who in our social niche was branded as the "what's wrong with her?" girl. I'm going to study what I love, and hopefully pursue a phd after the grad program.

Essentially, I turned my life around by not following the expectations of others, realizing that life is not a rat race and it's ok to find your niche at your own pace, and accept that it's totally ok (hell, encouraged) to get into a bad funk. Ride it out. Feel it. Go through it. Acknowledge it. Be weird. Be the fuck-up. It's ok. Last November I laughed when a friend suggested I apply to Harvard. I swore he'd been putting something else besides tobacco in his shisha. And I'm not going because it's "that school" (crazy me, got into another ivy league as well), but because it's a program that I will love, and am so unbelievably excited and happy about it. So also, when you are nearing the end of your fuck-up, take a risk. Give that crapshot idea/goal a chance. I have a ways to go, but I'm the happiest and most excited I've been since, well, I really don't know.
posted by raztaj at 9:10 PM on May 13, 2007 [18 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, especially Baby_Balrog, Derive..., Deej, and gt2. These are the kinds of heartfelt stories I wanted to hear. They mean so much more to me knowing they come from real people. Please keep your comments coming...
posted by DarkForest at 9:17 PM on May 13, 2007

Response by poster: ... and raztaj, too. Thank you.
posted by DarkForest at 9:20 PM on May 13, 2007

Most of what you do every day is habitual. Very few people actually consider each and every shining moment of existence as new and full of breathtaking opportunity, because that would be much harder than the alternative - coasting. Pretty much everyone is coasting most the time, regardless of the form their conditioned responses take. For some people coasting is commuting, sitting in a cubicle, and coming home to their TV and 2.2 children. Others blow off classes to surf the internet and respond to AskMefi until they fail out of school. Some nurse a coke habit and a expand their vast horizon of sexual conquest. You can browse AskMeFi for more examples, but they differ only in the details... we slide down the groove until some combination of pain, boredom, ennui or concern make us sit up and look around.

So changing your life is really about assessing your habits, which you can't avoid, but can almost certainly change, and deciding to do that. This is the quintessential easier-said-than-done self-help platitude. How to do this has been expounded upon by a lot of people, and I'm totally clueless, so you're on your own there.

I've got to go to sleep now. Good habit, you know.
posted by phrontist at 9:28 PM on May 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

I grew up the gifted nerd kid. I won't get into specifics because I'm not comfortable telling too much of my life story here, but I'll just summarize the difficulties I had by saying that I was not in very good mental shape through my teenage years.

What turned me around was changing environments completely. I had gotten to the point where I was pessimistic and defeatist about everything, and I needed a kick in the pants of the good sort to open my eyes and see some good in the world.

For me, it was going away to college. I was lucky - I decided to live in a building that turned out to be well reputed for being loaded with annoying stereotypical suburbanite snobs - but for whatever reason, my floor was filled with awesome people my freshman year of school.

The big things for me were making a boatload of new friends and getting a chance to start fresh. The combination of being accepted by new people (rather than, say, having a completely falsified reputation ruin any chance of making friends) along with a change in environment was huge for me.

I still had some rough times in college, but anything that was difficult then seemed like cake compared to the abuse I had to tolerate in earlier years.

Now I realize that I was in a state of mind where every bad thing that happened to me seemed like the end of the world, and I can laugh at it being kind of pathetic. At the same time, I can acknowledge that back then, it really WAS huge to me and while I was being irrational I wasn't "faking" like I was miserable.

Thanks to my metamorphosis in college, today I'm a person who truly does the cliche thing of valuing the things I do have rather than only lamenting the things I don't. Being "down" now is always short lived and never anything to actually worry about.

An interesting thing I've learned is that most of the people who spew out cliche things to depressed people have a really weird thing going on. They simultaneously:

1) honestly don't know what the fuck they're talking about and are just trying to say something that might help or just shut you up

2) actually turn out to be speaking the truth, even though they don't realize it.

Such important cliches that are totally valid if you actually heed them:
- Value the things you do have - family, friends, health, etc.
- You really do have to get out and do things to distract yourself from wallowing in self pity - find a hobby.
- "Fake it 'til you make it" sounds horrible, but seriously happiness and depression are nothing more than pliable states of mind, and if you paste on a smile and start interacting and joking with people even when you're bummed out you really will find yourself feeling better.

I'd get into more detail, but as I posted above i'm a little concerned about my life story forever living on "The Google", so it'd be somewhere other than a publicly readable site like this...

Best of luck...
posted by twiggy at 9:35 PM on May 13, 2007

Addendum: The above advice assumes that you have a path or goal in mind, and are falling short of it, which has been my situation (I would love to regale you with my story, but it doesn't have a screenplay-worthy ending yet). I guess I'm lucky to know what I want. If you don't know what you want, you need to address that first (sounds obvious, but a lot of people work really damn hard at things, the way some of us can only dream of working, only to wake up one day and realize they wanted something totally different). As far as finding what you want, the only sage advice I've ever heard on the topic is:

What do you care what other people think?
posted by phrontist at 9:37 PM on May 13, 2007

You know, I'm writing this massive paper right now on Father John Dear (almost half way done! Huzzah!) and it seems sort of providencial so I'll just mention that the two absolutely core concepts to his theology are Prayer (solitude, solitude, solitude, listening for God in silence and meditating in silence) and Civil Disobedience (standing up to the Empire no matter the cost). I know (again) that you're not looking for religious stuff but I thought I'd throw this into the stew in case it helps in any way.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:52 PM on May 13, 2007

I'm grateful that, by brain chemistry, relative privilege, and whatever other lucky breaks, I have a fairly positive outlook on life. However, there was a time when I had a much harder time motivating and had much more sadness and stuckness in my life.

I think that a huge part of why my life basically works right now is that I have found what is for me some golden combination of self-reflection and just plowing through.

Self reflection: I go to therapy (have on and off for years) with a therapist who uses expressisive art and somatic practices which really help me to access feelings so that I can look at them and think about how I respond to them in my life. That means I am able to act more consciously in my daily actions. I also talk a lot with friends to weigh decisions, and I read a lot which keeps my mind pretty constantly exposed to new ideas.

Plowing through: particularly since I had kids, I've had a lot of shit I've just had to do, whether I'm in a funk or not. You know the old saying – "if you want something done, ask someone who's busy". The fact that I have too much to do has forced me to get good at doing a lot all the time. I don't get overwhelmed by small tasks anymore (grocery shopping, cooking dinner every night, cleaning the bathroom, stuff like that) because it just has to happen.
And I've become more efficient at other things because I'm so used to just getting stuff done. As a result, I've gone back to school (which I can't imagine having done before I had kids), started new hobbies, and learned to keep my car clean.

I think running your life the way you want to run your life is largely a habit. What I did was (not totally consciously) identified the way I wanted to live, and then started living that way, and then did that every day until I forgot how to live my life the old way.

I know that sounds like a stupid bumper sticker, but for me, it's true.
posted by serazin at 9:54 PM on May 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

Meditation has really helped me feel centered, content, and generally more agreeable. I also lost a few pounds and put on some muscle so that I'd physically feel better. The added benefit of losing weight is that you feel more confident and comfortable around people. When you aren't happy with your physical appearance, it causes you to not look forward to leaving the house.

Buy yourself a new article of clothing every week or treat yourself to a special dinner, food item, or CD. Learn to draw boundaries with pushy, unsafe people and don't put yourself in situations that make you feel miserable or unhappy. There is a big difference between being selfish and self-centered. Selfishness is good because you are protecting yourself. Self-centered is when things are all about you--and that's not good.

Basically, my trick to happiness was learning to appreciate the little things. Recognize when you are content. We don't always need to be happy and excited. American culture tries to tell us that we need to be happy all the time. We don't. Count your blessings. And by blessings, I don't mean things that God blessed you with. I mean the things that you have earned and worked hard to achieve, or attributes you were born with.
posted by HotPatatta at 9:58 PM on May 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

This is a difficult question, but the best answers are easy ones.

A person never stands so tall as when he stoops to help another. Practice kindness, compassion and charity towards all. Provide relief to someone in need. You, the giver, can be thankful you have something to give. Expect nothing in return -- but know that the universe repays your kindnesses tenfold.

Surround yourself with people who inspire you. This can mean everything from reading biographies of inspiring people, to cultivating friendships with people you admire (and being selective about the people you allow into your life), to traveling halfway across the world to look someone in the eye, or hear them play their instrument, or see their masterpiece, or shake their hand. Find inspiration by seeking it.

Decide what you want. It's truly remarkable how things fall into place once you've decided what exactly it is that makes you happy. If you don't know what you want, live each day in search of it. You will find it.

Write things down. There is something about seeing your aspirations in your own hand that makes them tangible.

Be true to yourself. It is bad to lie to is suicidal to lie to yourself. Do not oppose your true nature. Follow your conscience.

The true test of character is not what someone chooses when the choices are easy, but what they choose when the choices are difficult. Don't skate on easy choices.

A good time and happiness are two different things, and are often diametrically opposed.

People find what they seek. With rare exceptions, people are just as happy as they choose to be, but precious few choose anything at all. Don't be one of those people.

Time is valuable. An old colleague of mine had a saying: "The past is history. The present is a gift. The future is a mystery."

Things that can happen anytime, happen no time. Things that are scheduled to happen at a specific time, usually happen at that specific time. Make plans. Show up.

Today is not rehearsal. Today is the actual gig. Tomorrow is not rehearsal either.

The most profound happiness is the simplest happiness. The sunrise, the laughter of a child, the crack of the bat in springtime, the quiet at midnight in the snow. Seek these things out.

Love. There is nothing I can say on this subject that hasn't been said a million times better than I can. But love.
posted by edverb at 11:01 PM on May 13, 2007 [6 favorites]

Well, not a confession, some bullet-points:
- stop drugs
- stop drink except when it's a useful tool for you. e.g. to relax you in a social situation where being relaxed is what's needed; don't drink for pleasure.
- give up on whatever isn't working for you, no matter how much you have invested in it. that means work, that means relationships. at age 30 i gave up on a 7-year live-together relationship and on a career that had preoccupied me since i was 18; neither was exactly going badly but neither was spectacular. i began to do what i felt comfortable doing, and things got better, gradually, in all respects: career, income, romance.
- give to others, of your time and ideas, when they ask; i don't mean give away your trade secrets etc, but if you are open, people will be open, and enthusiastic about you, in return; it will pay dividends in every area.
- find common ground. remember, the number of bad people out there is small; the number of people who take a different view of things is enormous.
posted by londongeezer at 11:52 PM on May 13, 2007

I am currently reading Po Bronson's book "What should I do with my Life" . He interviewed several hundred people who had made major changes to their lives and he presents a few dozen of the most interesting stories. It is not a self help book and not all of this stories involve successful change - but it does highlight both the variety of options out there as well as a few patterns. You might like it.
posted by rongorongo at 1:55 AM on May 14, 2007

Response by poster: Hi, thanks for the responses. This thread seems to be turning more from inspiring stories to plain old advice. Even though the advice is good, I've probably heard or read it before.

I'd much rather hear stories of what you actually did to turn your life around, to feel for myself your process and your success. I think this much more what I need right now. In later askmefi questions, I can get into more specifics and seek actual advice.
posted by DarkForest at 3:43 AM on May 14, 2007

I still have a lot to do before I'm happy, but leaving the US (and my shitty hometown) was certainly a step in the right direction.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:05 AM on May 14, 2007

Response by poster: I guess what I mean is... I find advice alone unconvincing (and sometimes unbelievable). I want to see how it is really lived.
posted by DarkForest at 5:34 AM on May 14, 2007

Mine happened when an old man died at my feet while I was helping him in the store I worked at. I was able to provide him with at least a small amount of comfort while everyone around us tried to batter and shock him back to life. A lot of my priorities, not just as a human but as a worker, were questioned because of that experience, and soon after when I moved to New York I found nearly every single decision I made-- especially what I did for a living-- to be impacted by that moment. By the time its imprint faded, I all but had a completely new life.

Not that you can just walk around and wait for people to die at your feet in hopes of inspiration. But please recognize that there is an incredible amount of human need that goes unfulfilled all around us, and whether you can do anything to help in such a situation is determined first and foremost by being trained to notice it in the first place.
posted by hermitosis at 6:05 AM on May 14, 2007

I could try and analyze individual things I did, but it'd be empty, blathering text. What happened to turn my life around?

I found the love of my life, and went from being depressed and crazy and flat broke, living in a barn, to being in school with a 4.0, working a great job, and having my own apartment and even savings.

I couldn't love myself enough to be motivated to fix my own life, but found the motivation in my love for someone else. You can lecture me on this being unhealthy, but it's worked.
posted by po at 6:38 AM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, hermitosis and po, even if your stories are not easy to replicate in my life, they have a great inspirational value.
posted by DarkForest at 7:03 AM on May 14, 2007

Best answer: A few years ago, I was stuck in a job I couldn't stand and I was, without realizing it very depressed. I was also very religious (of the pagan variety) and firmly believed that by living a good life and being a good person, good stuff would happen. Then my boyfriend of eight years told me he was leaving and wasn't sure if he'd ever come back.

I had a horrible breakdown, and at the base of it was a total loss of faith. One of the major points of our relationship was that it was "meant to be". And when it wasn't anymore, I just couldn't believe in anything. I was completely devestated. He had been my world and I just couldn't function without him.

So I turned my dearest friend, television and buried my sorrows in silly shows.

I know it sounds lame, but one night watching Angel on the television a line struck me hard. "In the greater scheme or the big picture, nothing we do matters. There's no grand plan, no big win. If there is no great glorious end to all this, if - nothing we do matters, - then all that matters is what we do. 'cause that's all there is."

Something about that really hit home. And I realized that living life for other people, or with this hope that there was some reward in the end was what was making me miserable. I realized that by fighting so hard to do the right thing and follow the right rules so some outside force would reward me with happiness, I was making myself miserable.

So I stopped. I started living my life as if I was done. As if there was nothing else coming and no one could help me but me. And it helped. I'm much more comfortable in my own skin. I'm much less likely to agonize over the little stuff. I just do what I can to make life better for me and those around me and I don't sweat it. Some shit I can't fix, and I understand it. But happiness isn't built on big things, it's built on tiny little pieces that sometimes come together.

I started smiling more, I started loving more, I started helping out more. Not because it would earn karma points or because it made a god happy, but because I could.

I've been through some dark spots since then, and when I get down and can't function I remember that it's all about this minute. This day. This time. Nothing else matters but what I do. And if I can go to sleep at night knowing I've done the best I can, I'm satisfied.

Since then, I've gotten some amazing friends that adore me for who I am. I'm in a relationship that while it's not always perfect, it's based in something real. I've got a job I love in an area that makes me very happy. And yeah, there are still shitty days, but they don't win. I go home, shake it off, vent a bit, and enjoy as much as I can. I still have faith, but it's not in anything external, it's in me. I firmly believe that I can deal with just about anything, I trust me and I trust my judgement. It may seem egotistical, but knowing that there is one person in this universe that will never let me down helped. So what if that's me?

Find your joy where you can and don't stress the rest. Good luck.
posted by teleri025 at 8:08 AM on May 14, 2007 [5 favorites]

Another big thing that's helped me around productivity and motivation: I started drinking coffee.
posted by serazin at 1:54 PM on May 14, 2007

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