Today is the fourteenth day of “The Good Stuff”, a project in which I challenge myself to write down and publish one positive thought every day until the end of this year.
When I started this, I explained that I was doing it primarily for myself, and I suppose it makes sense to start this short reflection with the impact this exercise has had on me so far. On some days, it’s been really tough to come up with a positive thought to commit to paper and share with you all. On two occasions, I was too tired – mentally or physically – to write, and decided to just call it a day instead. But on all other days, the task of coming up with one positive thought had a pretty significant effect on me. No matter if it had been a bad day, a good day, or just an average day, having this one task to come back to every evening helped me regain or maintain some perspective, to refocus, and to calm myself.
I’m starting to be a little less bothered by the typos I make when handwriting my notes, and by the entries that I think don’t look aesthetically pleasing. I’m not particularly happy with my phrasing at times, and I’m still struggling through the logic of the “Selfcare Isn’t Selfish” post. Really, it should have read something like “Selfcare is selfish. In a good way.” But that is all part of the exercise. To not get hung up all the time on ultimately small errors. This is about playing the long game. About positive thoughts. So while these things still feel like an annoying itch that I can’t scratch, and that’s not going away anytime soon, I’m also starting to see the diary as a bigger picture. As an accumulation of good stuff.
I’ve had to come up with positive thoughts when I had just spent several hours, perhaps even an entire day, intricately worrying about something that’s going on in my personal or professional life. Not all of us can snap out of this kind of mindset easily. I still struggle to on some occasions. But writing down a positive thought and slowly establishing that task as part of my daily routine means that it’s becoming part of my network of coping strategies at times when negative thought patterns are harder to snap out of than usual.
So, on a personal level, it’s been good stuff indeed.
A secondary effect that I had hoped for when I decided to make these daily positive thoughts public was that they may help others in some small way. Others in academia, others who suffer from mental health issues, and those who fall into both categories. I’ve had lots of messages telling me that my daily posts made an impact on people. Some felt less alone. Some felt inspired to start keeping their own diary of positive thoughts. Others could relate to particular notes I had made because they recognised their own struggles in them. It meant a lot when those messages started coming. Not simply because it does, of course, feel nice to have some sort of impact, but also because it reminded me that I wasn’t alone. That some of what I was writing made sense to others. That there were good reasons to keep up this project; reasons that went beyond my own wellbeing. As always, I’m incredibly grateful to those of you who have commented, shared, read, and questioned my posts, publicly, privately, or silently.
But, as I had anticipated, the fact that you actually read this stuff also makes the task a little bit harder. Together, the posts that make up The Good Stuff have had 2,690+ pageviews. I’m already worried about writing something that’ll be deemed silly, or that very soon people will get bored of my daily posts. After all, there are 300+ to come, and I’m under no illusion that at some point I’ll probably and inevitably repeat myself. But that’s ok, I suppose. The task is not to write mind-blowingly genius notes. The aim is to write something positive. Every day. No matter how small. No matter how insignificant. So I’ll try and keep reminding myself of that, and I hope you’ll remember it when you read yet another entry that tells you how great pets are.