OK. Confession time. We all know that social media enables us to edit our lives to cast them in the best possible light. Consequently, we tend to select only those parts of our lives that we want to share/are proud of. Yet these filtered best bits offer only a partial snippet of reality.
My little flourish initiative, #30YAYDAYS (which ended yesterday) was about finding the good; seeking those moments that were especially yayish, even if they were hard to find on some days. It was about cultivating the practice of gratitude for what we have, rather than focusing on what we don’t.
But ... I want to let you into a little secret!
While I was recording the parts of my day that lit me up, I was also recording the crappier parts that got me down. The #30MEHDAYS, if you will.
For example, on the day that I wrote about a friend giving me a wonderful YAY coffee mug, I was also feeling helpless about another friend’s illness, a little bit left out of a friendship group and I also burnt my tongue on my rose (but not so rosy) tea. Meh!
On the day that I enjoyed a wonderful woodland walk in the rain and felt deeply connected to nature and ever-so-alive, I also accidentally deleted an email I’d spent blummin’ ages on and experienced (another) domestic failure involving out of date sausages. FFS!
And, whilst my CAPP certificate arrived on a beautiful blue sky day on Day 6 to confirm I was now qualified as a positive psychology practitioner, that same day I was questioning who on earth I think I am, to consider working on a fledgling education revolution project that I’ve been toying with. I also found out that another family member has the same disease that killed my father, (which, of course, made me feel incredibly sad for them and also brought all of those difficult memories back).
On the day when my daughter scored a goal and I cherished our time reading books together, I had also felt a bit frustrated and annoyed when I felt unheard as people spoke over me.
And, worst of all, on the day that I saw the Outdoor Classroom I’ve raised funds for coming together and was told I’m making a difference, I ended up putting my daughter to bed late, as we were packing to go on an adventure, then got cross with her for not going to sleep on time. Guilty meh!
I didn’t share any of THAT in my yayday posts, because #30YayDays was about focusing on the good, but I am sharing them here in this blog, because this is about acceptance, about feeling the funk and flourishing anyway.
I recorded my MEH moments to practice acceptance (because life isn’t always rosy and, in order to flourish, we need to take the rough with the smooth and accept when we’re feeling p’d off, so we can deal with/work through that) and also, to see if writing down the MEH as well as the YAY, had any kind of impact.
I also wanted see which dictated my mood – the YAY or the MEH parts of my day. And, I’m pleased to report that it was mostly the better parts that led the way. I believe this is partly because of my focus on finding the good and on recording the less pleasing moments as well.
Research has shown that saying outloud or writing down how you are feeling can help diffuse negative emotions.
What’s more, I also learned some stuff about myself: for example, what triggers me to get annoyed and how I want to respond better (with more empathy) when I’m feeling disappointed. So, writing down the bad as well as the good can be helpful as it gives you time to process sh1t. I’m pleased to report that this past week, every time I’ve felt like getting annoyed about something, I’ve managed to take a deep breathe and respond in a way I’m prouder of, which has worked really well; for everyone.
It’s important to find a balance and keep it real. I like to focus on the good in my life; it’s what I do; it’s helped me to cope with some sad events in my life, but that doesn’t mean I should cover up or run away from those sad events. Leaning into them and feeling them, dealing with the raw harsh stuff is important as you come out the other side feeling more ready to handle what life throws at you and more appreciative of the good stuff.
Admittedly, only my other half of 18 years and my daughter get to see the unedited occasionally annoyed/wired side of me; the side I’m less proud of, the side that (I think) we all have. And while that part does generally tend to rear its ugly head only once in a while, (usually once a month) it’s still part of me. But I don’t tend to share that side on social media.
I Don’t Have It All Together: None Of Us Do!
Social comparison can get us down. When we see others doing well at their jobs/parenting/living, we can feel significantly MEH! But we need to remember that we’re only seeing one (self-edited) side.
My dear friend Marsha (a storytelling coach via YesYesMarsha) started a fantastic weekly event on Facebook. It’s called ‘I don’t have it all together Tuesday’ and people are encouraged to share the more embarrassing, real and raw parts of their daily lives.
From "some out of date houmous exploded in my bag" and "spending 20 minutes looking for a special purple pen before finally remembering the pen was pinning my hair up" to "having a virtuous morning, then eating too many creme eggs in the afternoon", and "having an overflowing laundry basket" to "planning entire days around client calls that are, in fact, happening in two days time" and, my personal favourite, because it's the kind of thing I do/have done: "sleeping with half my bed covered in clean laundry because I can't bring myself to put it away. It's like I have a boyfriend made of soon-to-be-wrinkled shirts."
These confessions are so refreshing to read. And oh so RELATABLE!
“We all walk around thinking everyone else has it all together and only we don't (as I talked about here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XcX4XHZBuE). I love Facebook for many reasons, but it does have a tendency to exacerbate that feeling. To counterbalance this, the weekly thread, I Don't Have It All Together Tuesday [works by people] posting one thing in the comments that [they’re] genuinely a little bit ashamed of, that makes [them] feel like [they] don't have it all together.”
Others then can post their own and offer encouragement.
It’s a GENIUS idea. (Marsha is all kinds of awesome). And, from now on, I intend to share the post as regularly as I remember to.
Being human (and flourishing) is about finding and focusing on the good, whilst accepting and responding as best we can to the bad. It’s about learning from the MEH moments when we can, laughing at them when we can but, most importantly, it’s about riding the rollercoaster of life, with its incessant ups and downs, by responding as best we can to the downs so that we are more empowered to appreciate the ups in this YAYMEHYAYMEH journey called life.