Thursday 26th September 2019

Whilst I may not blog these diary entries every day I still think I will carry on writing them and just post selectively so as not to bore people. Not that most give a monkeys anyway.

After yesterday’s somewhat childish realisation that I am constantly unhappy with what I have and where I am at in my life, and distracted by every shiny thing, I have decided to make a conscious effort to stop myself doing so. If I am aware enough of my own actions to appreciate them in my own mind and write them in a diary then I have no excuse to keep allowing myself to behave in such a way. If I want to change I have to change. Baby steps.

Today was a stressful day, my first time trying to go from my university lectures straight to work, which in itself was causing me so much anxiety. But I had said I would go in earlier with Jamie in order to try and help my mum. I had bought a parking permit for my commute into uni for £50.00 which you’d have thought would mean I would be able to park on campus- incorrect. I dropped Jamie off because he was already stressing about being late and drove around for 15 minutes to find anywhere and there was NOTHING. By this time it was cutting it fine for me to get to my own lecture. So I called my mum (crying of course because I cannot appropriately deal with any remotely emotionally taxing situations), and she said to just drive home and she would take me back, drop me at uni and pick me up later. She really does always go out of her way to d anything for Jamie and I.

Between that and my Positive Psychology lecture I have appreciated a lot about gratitude today. I am always grateful for my mum and all that she does, and I am reminded of that daily. Today in Positive Psychology we learnt about David Steindl-Rast’s Gratitude Theory. David is a a Catholic Benedictine Monk who spent much of his teen years in the Austrian Alps living under Nazi rule. He is known for his interfaith dialogue (Christianity and Buddhism) and for his book, Gratefullness: The Heart of Prayer. When talking about gratitude he states that people’s mental health improves when they are being explicitly grateful for the things they have in life. In order to harness this gratitude the most effective method is to first make a list of who and what you are grateful for, why or what it is they do that makes you so grateful for them. Then, to continue your own gratitude and to make the people feel appreciated, you have to tell them so. This is supported by empirical evidence that being actively grateful encourages better mental health than passively doing so. In light of this I am to write a letter to my mum, the person I am most grateful for in the world and tell her such. I will write it while I am alone in Edinburgh (which I know she will find hard too) as something to give her when I get back. 

Also in this positive lecture we learnt about the Theory of Flow and how being “in flow” is the optimal form of ecstasy. In order to do this we must find tasks that require our skills and challenge us, creating a flow channel. Any fluctuation in this will result in either a state of boredom, apathy or anxiety. Flow is a state of focus and concentration in which we are happy and the world around us seems to fade away- so called because many who achieve it liken it to the feeling of being immersed in a body of water. It is most common in sportsmen and women and musicians and rare for the rest of us.

The other three states mentioned are all states I find myself in regularly. Czikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow suggests that one can make myself happy or sad regardless of external situations by changing the contents of their consciousness/ Something I regularly discuss wanting to do, but as I am neither a sportsperson or musician, it just feels like another concept I am incapable of.

But then my lecturer mentioned how this sometimes happens naturally in the communities around the world, namely the people of The First Nations in Canada. I apologise for any ignorance in this subject, or if any of this information is incorrect, it is only what my lecturer taught us and I have been able to find very little out about it myself online, so if anyone does know any more, then please let me know! Basically, as I understand it, every 25-30 years the elders would move their tribes and camps to a completely new area of the country and spend the next generation rebuilding their camp and exploring the land on which they have built it. This in turn gave them a new focus and task and something all consuming to devote all their attention to. This kept them mentally and physically occupied and naturally “in flow”.

Trying new things and creating challenges for oneself that are consuming appear to help induce “flow” and that genuine ecstatic feeling. Hence I think I will try and do more of this. Things like going to Edinburgh alone will challenge me and do require some kills (navigation and planning). Perhaps if it goes well, or even if it does not, I shall try and “go with the flow”.

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