Happiness

While I was drinking my tea today (apple, if anyone’s interested), I had an interesting realization.

I have been happier in the final weeks of March and April than I have been at any other time in my adult life. Probably more so than at any point in my adolescent life, either.

Some of this has to do with a spiritual re-awakening, since I’ve been more involved in my church and the Scriptures, but a lot of it has to do with simple changes to my life.

I write about two to three thousand words a day on average. I’m more or less equally productive on my previous projects, but I have taken up blogging regularly.

Some of it serves as self-reflection. I am continuously trying to capture what’s in my mind and put it on paper. Most of it is drivel, I am sure, and little of it is likely to ennoble others, but I’ve found that the best way I can think is to write, and lest I let my thoughts go idle I have resolved to try to think nothing that cannot be made public (barring, of course, the need for professional confidentiality in my day job).

What I’ve found great success in is reducing the amount of time and money I spend on leisure pursuits. My financial expenditures on leisure have probably dropped 80-90%, depending on the week. Most of that’s because writing is in itself relieving some of the stress I used to feel, but a lot of it’s just because I spend less time on leisure.

And as I spend less time on leisure, I’m focusing more on what I really want to do. When I do play a game or watch a movie or TV show, it’s something that I really want. I read books more, but some of that’s on a semi-professional basis, and partly in facilitation of my self-improvement.

It helps anyway.

I think since I started this kick of self improvement, I’ve read something like 150 informational articles (usually in the form of news, though occasionally about technology, philosophy, or literature) that I would not have otherwise read. I’ve written over 50,000 words just for blogs in about a month’s span.

And that’s where a second part of this comes in. Obviously I was reading Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life, because I wrote a review of it, but I’ve also been reading through Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning while also renewing my commitment to the Scriptures, which has led to an interesting trend.

One of Jesus’ final commandments to his followers, as seen in John 21, is to “Shepherd My sheep” as they carry out their lives, even to the point of great sacrifice.

I don’t claim to have great sacrifices being made in my life, nor do I claim to have a great ability to shepherd. My interests in writing are primarily secular, and my interest in religious matters is largely personal, at least in this stage of my life.

But as I’ve been doing more writing and improving my performance at my day job, I’ve been finding something that is a combined thread between Christ, Peterson, and Frankl:

Do what helps the world.

Now, there’s some room to consider what we’re talking about here. One of my recent works on steemit has been a series of articles about archetypes, including the Hero’s Journey, the Nemesis, and Pearson’s personality archetypes like the Destroyer and the Orphan.

There are limits to the theories of archetypes. But at the same time, a hammer is better than your bare hands when it comes time to build, whether or not you have any other tools.

My hope is that the responses I’ve been getting to these series, which have been tremendous even if not broad-reaching, indicate that I’ve been helping people live their lives. I’m a firm believer that most stories are able to teach us moral and philosophical lessons.

And archetypes are a pathway to that.

I believe that I’ve been helping people meet their needs, and there’s nothing that can match that satisfaction. I’ve certainly been developing in a positive direction myself. I honestly can say that I believe God has blessed me in this time of my life by providing me with a means of service, and some of that includes being able to write and communicate with others. The patterns of the archetypes are, in my opinion, echoes of the Christ-story and our place in the divine (my one concession to mysticism).

Even taken with a secular understanding, they help us live in a way that is consistent with right action. That might be a dodge–I don’t feel a call to change the way I pursue this, but I can’t claim direct instruction from God on what path to take.

But I’d say the fact that my life’s potential has never seemed brighter to me is a good starting point.

I guess the take-away from all of this for people other than myself is nothing other than the old phrase carpe diem. Find something you’re good at, something you can make a difference with, and do it. At the risk of sounding like someone on a PSA, you really don’t know what you’re capable of.

Even little things, like going from taking luxuriously long showers (my old way of getting thinking time) to spartan ones can change your life. Recognize your accomplishments. Don’t deny them. Accept them as the blessing that they are and use them as a barrier against being consumed by shortcomings and setbacks.

If you aren’t achieving something you’re proud of, figure out what would make you proud (in a lower-case p sense, not the Pride of self-conceit that is so common), figure out what you can do to brighten someone else’s life.

That is the essence of service, and it’s something that I have struggled with my whole life. I probably do more harm than good in a lot of fields, but that amount’s gotten smaller as I’ve sought to make myself better, and I’ve been surprised the strides I’ve made. All this has served as a reminder to me–as someone who’s dealt with serious doubts and anxiety over the years–that I can contribute to the world.

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