The Benefit of Forgiving Yourself

Giving yourself forgiveness. It’s a concept that I’ve heard about from a variety of people and it seems to be good advice, and kind of obvious. If you love someone then you should be able to forgive them. Thus you should be able to forgive yourself.

Yet, I’ve been struggling with this concept today. I did not have a good writing week. In truth it was quite mediocre. I wrote but not as much as I wanted or as I should have. I feel short of my goal. This happens, life gets in the way and there’s nothing you can do about it.

This is not what happened this time. I have no excuse. I had a lot of momentum coming into the week. There was more than enough time for me to get it done, yet I didn’t. I failed myself, I didn’t meet my expectations. If writing is my dream then I failed my dream. I didn’t work hard enough for it. Didn’t want it enough.

I let myself down and there is no one else to blame. It’s easy to get down and negative when this happens. To begin to doubt your own abilities and dedication. To berate yourself and confirm all the doubts swirling in your brain.

Yet none of this helps. None of this gets you back on the right path again. Forgiving yourself will. Forgiving yourself and knowing that next week will be better, that you will be better, is the only way to right the ship. Not that this is easy, but it is possible and worth it. Besides, if there is anyone who you should cut some slack, it’s yourself.

You can follow me on twitter @ James Bee

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Finding the Goodness in Badness

Finding the goodness in badness. Looking on the bright side of life, finding the silver lining and all that jazz. This is something that I struggle a lot with, trying to feel okay with feeling bad once in a while. Giving myself permission to have a shitty day.

Often I try to attack my life with optimism, but that doesn’t always work, it can’t always work. No one feels good all the time. Life finds a way to pull you down and keep you there. Everyone has days were things seem hopeless and bleak.

But in order to appreciate feeling good, you have to experience the discomfort of this badness. Though it’s difficult to keep this in mind. It’s like when you sprain or break your thumb, it’s on your mind constantly, every time you go to use it you remember, yet when it’s healed you forget all about the suffering it brought you. You don’t wake up every morning and give thanks that your thumb isn’t broken.

In the same way, it’s hard to look past the pain when it’s thrust upon you. It’s hard to see how it will make you appreciate when your life is good. Right now my life is much better than it was in many aspects. There is a lot that I should feel happy and grateful about every day.

For example, my health has improved seriously in the past few years. I used to be in near constant pain often, and getting through many days was a struggle. Now I can go weeks without having a bad day.

Learning to appreciate this good and not take it for granted is something that I need to work on. Embracing struggles and the bad feels that come along as a lesson and a reminder instead of a punishment to be born would also go a long way to improving my happiness. You can’t have the good without the bad, and nor should you want to. They are tied together, each meaningless without the other.

You can follow me on Twitter at James Bee

Keeping up on the Content Treadmill

In recent years, there seems to be an endless amount of content to consume. T.V., movies, music, podcasts, youtube videos, music. Never before has so much been available to occupy you time. You could spend lifetimes watching and not see it all.

Yet with this abundance comes pressure. Friends and family telling you to watch this and watch that. Every recommendation bringing with it the feeling of being left out or left behind. Every day more and more is made pushing you further and further behind. I, myself probably have a backlog of about a hundred shows. Breaking Bad, the Walking Dead, Westworld, I could go on and on with shows I haven’t finished and will probably never finish.

And as I grow older, the less free time I have. Balancing work, with writing, relationships and all the other parts of life leaves me with less free time than ever. Thus I have to be very selective, and most content passes me by.

Strangely, this leaves me with an odd feeling of almost anxiety, much akin to the feeling that I used to get when homework piled up while I procrastinated. But why? What am I really missing out on? If the purpose of the content is to entertain/occupy my time then where is the harm in not partaking?

Perhaps the feeling lies in the loss of a cultural identity. Nowadays people are very much wrapped up in the media that they consume. Marvel vs DC, Harry Potter and Dr, Who. People are what they watch. Thus it becomes harder to fit in, to participate in conversations, to relate.

Personally, I pick and choose what I consume, largely based on convenience. I listen to podcasts in the car, T.V. has been all but abandoned, too many episodes, too much of a time commitment. Movies are easier, they’re a one off.
It would seem that the healthy thing to do would be to learn to be okay with falling behind, with stepping off of the treadmill. We are presented with a buffet of content and not all of it has to be eaten. We have become gluttons, addicted to bingewatching. Maybe it is time to go on a diet, to limit and refrain before our monkey brains turn to mush.

Does that mean I’m going to cancel my Netflix subscription? Not on your life.

You can follow me at James Bee

My Canadian Dream

Growing up, even in Canada, I heard about the American dream. Get an education, get a good job, raise a family, buy a house with a white picket fence. Etc. Ect. That’s what I was told that I should aspire to.
But is that what I want? Is that my Canadian dream? Certainly it’s what I’ve been told that I should want. Go to university, work hard and follow the path that other have. Get all of these things and you will be happy.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with these things. A good job, a happy family, owning a home. It is not hard to see how these things would bring someone happiness and contentment. But is that the only way? Or is it just the way that has been forced upon me?

This dream does not seem to jive with the world that around me. I live in the greater Vancouver area, a dumpster fire of a real estate market. Housing is likely out of my reach, or so expensive I would have to beggar myself to afford to own. The job market too, is not great, here or anywhere. A endless slog of application and rejections plague that path. Divorce rates too, are high, too high to be risked perhaps.

All in all, chasing this dream at times seems extremely difficult and painful, if not downright impossible. Yet it is what we are told we should aspire to. What is my dream? What should the goals of my life be? To be happy? Content with my life? That seems good enough.

But what would make me happy, If not all these things? Do I need to own my own home? Raise a family? Work a dream job? I don’t know the answer to these questions, though likely I will have to forge my own Canadian dream as the past generation’s is out of reach.

You can follow me on twitter at James Bee

The Destructive Powers of Social Media

I grew up in the dawning of the age of social media. The new paradigm of sharing your life, broadcasting it to the world, was normal for me. Looking back on my first few years of Facebook, a decade ago, can be a endless source of cringe inducing pictures and posts. Though this embarrassment is harmless enough, did going from adolescence to adulthood under the watchful eye of the internet do me harm?

I would say it did.

Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, etc… I participated in these with the reckless excitement of the discovery of a new toy. A way to communicate and share instantly with friends and strangers alike. Where previous generations looked to books, T.V. and movies, to inform their identities, my generation had a much more direct method. We compared ourselves, against each other. How could we not do so?

As I grew older, this measuring grew more intense, more damaging perhaps. Comparing lives with everyone, if subconsciously. It would be difficult not to find yourself lacking, falling behind. Every picture of of someone posing in an exotic location or partying in a club could leave you feeling like you were missing out. That you were a loser, living a dull empty life. Perhaps you would even feel odd, for not wanting what everyone else wanted. For not living the same sort of life as the cool kids on facebook.

And escape was near impossible. Social media is a pervasive part of my life, more than I would perhaps like to think. How many times a day do I go on Facebook? Or Twitter? It happens almost automatic, my fingers typing the address as though on their own accord. There is a drive to document my life, but what is there to document? What is worth sharing?

Lately, I find the urge to disconnect from it all is strong. You hear the stories, people deleting everything and simply disappearing from the internet. More free time, a clearer head, valuable perspective gained? All could be potential benefits from pulling the plug, stepping back. Yet the thought seems alien, almost unthinkable. It would be as if I would simply disappear. If I am not online then it is almost as if I am dead. I might not like it but social media and the internet are a part of me, I was raised on it.

Perhaps then, a more healthy mindset is need? I’ve heard many times to keep in mind that what I am doing is comparing my behind the scenes with someone else’s highlight reel. A picture simply captures a moment in time. It is hard to remember that everyone has struggles, unfulfilled wishes and wants. The grass is always greener and all that jazz. Undoubtably as I grow older I will gain perspective and hopefully peace. Yet I doubt that I will ever fully escape from it’s clutches, that I will always wish I was the one climbing that mountain or jumping on the plane.