It’s been a while since I last posted. I have reasons, many of them are bad. But I’m here now, and that’s what matters.
I’m also a month late (again) for my own birthday post. Some things just don’t change.
As usual, this is an integrity report. What do I care about and have I been living towards those values?
I started doing this after seeing Scott H Young write birthday posts and James Clear write integrity reports and combined them. I’m not creative, I just borrow a lot.
Living a life of integrity is incredibly important to me. One of the greatest sources of unhappiness I’ve found in my days is where my expectations and actions don’t match. Of course, expectations can and should be managed to be reasonable so you’re not perpetually unhappy. Perhaps then, it was a problem of expectations. Instead, living in line with values is important because they determine your actions and your expectations.
Living in accordance with my values is satisfying because they ask me how I can improve myself and contribute to the world positively. This doesn’t need to be through large political rallies – it can be something as simple as letting someone know they look nice in their shirt.
So I will ask:
- What are my values? Has anything changed?
- How am I living towards them?
- What can I do better?
What are my values? Has anything changed?
Last year, I explained all of them in a bit of detail. If you’d like to read that, you can find it here.
- Anything worth doing is worth doing well
- Improve slowly with compassion
- Exude grit in the face of adversity
- Examine the world honestly
- Give myself permission to be content
- Eat healthily and exercise
- Take time to slow down, often
- Make steps to becoming the person I want to be
Compassion and Contribution
- Make the world better for others
- Contribute to the world rather than simply consume it
- Speak with kindness and leave negative judgement behind
To summarise: Create more. Consume less. Add value.
I haven’t had much reason to make drastic changes to the values that I want to live by. However, there is something I’d like to add under the “compassion” category.
We have thousands of thoughts flying through our heads all the time. Unfortunately, many of them negative and those thoughts are the easiest to latch onto. They seem to identify us because they appear permanent and personal.
“I’m an idiot” “I’ll never be able to produce good work” “My body hates me so I hate my body”
While I try to be a good friend to others, I can’t say I do the same for myself. If my negative thoughts were said by a separate person, I’d think they were terrible. Why must I do it to myself?
So I want to exercise a bit more self-compassion. Forgive myself for mistakes, bad working days, displays of rudeness, whatever it is. If I want to care about the important, I think I would like to regard myself important. At least to me.
Am I living with integrity?
I’ve learned a significant amount from over the course of the past year.
How have I grown as a person?
From the time between 21 to 22, I have finished a Philosophy degree and started a Master’s degree.
The pain is still a big problem so when I think of being more “gritty” I suppose I can point to that. I’ve pushed through, reminded myself that I’m capable and continued. This isn’t to say that I just grit my teeth and endure the pain. That would be dishonest. Rather, I’ve taken it upon myself to learn more coping mechanisms to help me get through it. They aren’t all perfect (or positive) but it’s a useful step that I’m happy I’ve taken.
I’m most proud of learning how to swim. For the longest time, I was petrified of swimming. I was certain that I could drown even if my face was completely above water. The water was lava. Everything was lava.
And I looked stupid in speedos.
I ditched the speedos and picked up adult swimming lessons. I think, in part because I was truly determined to learn how to swim, I overcame my initial fears quite quickly. The water wasn’t lava, it just stung when you forgot to put goggles on. To my surprise, you don’t float as easily as instructors sometimes say but that’s the point of swimming, I suppose.
After many weeks of flailing around in the water, I swam a length (then told everyone about it) swam another two (and shouted it at anyone who would listen) and determined that I could finally swim.
I enjoy swimming a lot now and go regularly. I’m currently trying to swim a mile. But the real victory for me was taking a fear and figuring out how to get through it rather than ignoring it because I could.
I’m not even good. I’m just glad I can swim. We’re all capable of improvement in one way or another. I’ll be faster than Michael Phelps one day.
I can say I’ve been eating healthily and exercising. I’ve lost over 20kg, slipped up many times but improved slowly with compassion and appreciating that I’m a work in progress rather than the finished product. Believing otherwise will always create disappointment. I prefer to think of myself as a person capable of improving rather than a perfect human.
I’ve been growing in many ways. I’ve grown academically and in fitness. As a result, my well-being has generally improved in the long-term.
Compassion and contribution may be the most important set of values for me. If there’s anything for me to be remembered by, I’d rather it was a memory of helping others rather than “wow he could swim 5 miles”. Life’s too important to ignore others completely or make it harder for others.
One of my ways of contributing to others has been through my writing. This blog. My aim is to now write about ideas of practical significance, and thought-provoking but useful pieces. Despite my perpetual doubt in this area, a surprising number of people exclaim their enjoyment of my work and that it proves helpful. I have written some important pieces such as: Care About The Important, Intensely, You Are Stronger Than Your Pain, and Sisu – Developing mental toughness in the face of adversity.
I started meditating consistently again to enjoy some moments of peace and to help manage my pain. I volunteered briefly for Certitude – a charity helping people with learning disabilities. I have cut back drastically on negative judgement and definitely refrained from negative gossip as much as I can (even though it is wildly addictive). Instead, it’s lovely to praise people behind their backs – it always raises the mood of conversations.
What can I do better?
In the spirit of being kinder to myself, I will try not to be too harsh.
Last year, I said I want to write regularly, stay in for the long haul, be more proactive and continue meditating.
I haven’t written regularly. There have been far too many gaps in content because I spend too much time in my head expecting perfect posts then not posting at all. Or simply not writing for the blog.
It’s disappointing because I enjoy writing this blog and the content. It makes me even happier when I notice that my friends and readers enjoy the work too. The kind words are often etched into my mind because I’m so grateful for them. I’m not simply chasing more praise. I hope to create more consistently because it is much more satisfying than binging YouTube videos.
To achieve this, I think I need to stop expecting perfection or fearing the worst from readers. Some posts may miss the mark. Others may do extremely well. I’m not the best at judging that I’ve realised. I should heed my own advice and create without expectation.
On a slightly different note, there is definitely more space to make life better for other people. Whether that is participating in more charity events, donating to charity, offering help without being asked first, whatever it may be, there often is still a way to improve someone’s day.
Since I’ll be taking a leaving academia (without any intention of returning to do a PhD), I suppose I’ll be forced to be more proactive and stick to things for longer.
And that brings me to the end. I’m 22. I’ve grown in different ways and stalled in others. Reflecting on this has helped because it’s reminded me that I, along with everyone else, will keep on improving slowly.
As always, thanks for reading.