And redefining success
Howdy from chilly Seattle! 🥶
If you joined January’s writing experiment, I have instructions for week three at bottom of this week’s edition.
I have one resolution this year.
Getting out of my own way.
You ever play Mario Kart, fire a mighty green turtle shell, only for it to majestically ricochet off the barrier right into your face?
That’s what getting in the way looks like.
I’ve been asking myself multiple times a day: “Am I getting in my own way?” to become mindful of my slippage into self-sabotage.
It’s all part of a bigger vibe shift that I’m focusing on for 2024. Last week, I wrote how I’ve been in a mopey mood, anxious about the unknowns, and creatively blocked.
I’m still feeling a bit blue, but I’m tired of telling people I’m feeling blue. I don’t want to write about it, you don’t want to read about it, and I bet my old therapist would say “ok, that’s enough.”
Here’s how I’m changing the vibes.
Less Scarcity. More Abundance.
Scarcity is a mind prison. It tells you that there is only one way for you. Everything else is out of reach. Its main currency is “can’t.”
You can’t make money on your own, you need to work for a big corp. You can’t make it as a writer, it’s too competitive. You can’t travel there, it’s too expensive.
Luckily, I have the key to escape my own jail cell. It’s called abundance.
Believing in abundance is to have faith that there is more for me, even if I don’t see it. To know that persistence and discipline will payoff. To know that the process is worth it, as long as it is aligned to what my heart desires. To know that yes—some doors close and that really sucks, while also knowing that plenty of doors are waiting for me. The world is filled with glorious possibilities, the key is to open myself to them.
Courage over Fear
A lot of my actions, and mainly inactions, are driven by fear. The unconscious thought is: If I do X, then bad Y will happen. Therapists call it catastrophizing.1
If you send that cold email to that writer you admire, they’ll be repulsed by it and you’ll end up as a screenshot on Twitter. If you approach that cute girl at a cafe, not only will she not be interested, but you’ll get kicked out of the cafe for disturbing the peace. If you write about X, then your subscriber graph will look like the 1929 stock market crash.
Fear is a very useful alert system, like those Tsunami-warning sirens. Unfortunately, too often in my life the Tsunami-warning siren goes off when it’s actually just a wave.
Choosing courage over fear is knowing that discomfort and anxiety are perennial conditions that can be reduced but never extinguished. It is to act in spite of this truth. You choose courage over and over again, because this is the way. If done for a long enough horizon, your courage will be fueled by the courageous choices you’ve made previously. A virtuous cycle.2
Swipe Left on Envy, Swipe Right on Gratitude3
Ok, I’m going to show you some of my shittier thoughts:
I get annoyed after seeing a former crush share a story on Instagram with a guy that I know has the IQ of Sloth from The Goonies.
I’m peeved whenever I see someone traveling to one of my favorite travel destinations on a Tuesday. What are you doing? Are you on a sabbatical like me? Are you the ONE person that actually uses unlimited PTO? How??
I get bitter whenever I read an essay that sucks and has ten times the likes of my most read piece.4
These are all dipped in envy like the chicken in those obnoxious commercials for Buffalo Wild Wings.
Envy is a disease that can easily turn chronic with the help of social media. It never makes my day better, it drags me into a loop of yearnings and frustrated desires, and when I chastise myself for having these thoughts, they don’t go away, they just recede until the morality police in my head moves on.
I don’t know if I can make these thoughts disappear. But what I do know is that if I sit in deeper gratitude with my life, there will be less room for envy to roam.
Deep gratitude looks like acknowledging the beauty in my life and holding these thoughts. There is always something, so that even in the darkest days, where visibility is null, I will still know that there is something there. It’s not just thanking life or my Creator for a warm bed and access to food; it’s about really thinking about how glorious it is that I can count on these things that are luxuries for millions of others. Or visualize someone that I know loves me, and fill yourself with the gratitude that they’ve chosen to do so.
Sitting in gratitude is not a coping mechanism, it’s a practice in wholeness.
These mindsets shifts are essential for the vibe shift I seek. But the biggest change I need to make is redefining what success means to me.
Success will not be wealth, nor accolades, nor material things.
It will not be diplomas on the wall, cash in the bank, or cars in the garage.
These are common trophies of a society that asks “what have you done?”
But that’s not the game I’m playing, nor the prizes I seek.
Success is how I approach each day—lose or win.
Not the what but the how.
How I handle myself in the tempest. How I handle myself in the calm.
How I put myself in a position to perform, to learn, and to enjoy from first waking moment to deep slumber.
To be present through actions in alignment with my values. To pursue honesty in my dealings, creativity in my doings, compassion in my relations, curiosity in my experiences.
Success is how I maximize my authenticity—the best expression of what I can be: Joyful, magnanimous, and full of wit. Warm, effusive, persistent, and charismatic.
Success is how I learn from my mistakes and dare to make some more.
Not indulging my worst habits or perversions, fending off those negative scripts that brought misery and pain. Letting bygones be bygones.
That’s what success will be to me. Daily wins in an infinite game.
Writing Experiment Week 3: Polishing your Piece
You are almost there! Hooray! This week you will put the finishing touches. Here are three things I suggest you do:
Summarize the post in one sentence: If you had to tell your story in a tweet, what would it say? Write it down, or better yet, record a voice note as if you were going to send that to someone. Play it back and see whether your summary is an accurate reflection of the story.
Add sensory language: One of the best writers I know,has this suggestion to take your piece to the next level.
Look for opportunities to be more specific of your experience. Use your senses. Sensory details do not have to be personal or private. You don’t have to confess anything, you don’t have to be vulnerable, you just imagine the scene of something you’re recalling. What do you see, hear, feel, taste, smell? And write it down.
Read you work (again): Don’t take my word for it. Writing-sensei/editor-geniusdoes the following before he publishes a piece:
“Every time before I publish, I send a preview to mobile and read it out loud (and editing as I read based on how it looks/sounds). The new format and the spoken medium help you see the work differently.
Next week, I’ll talk about what you do now with your finished product and what comes next after this experiment. Stay tuned!
A Seattle Sunset for you
Before you go!
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🗣️ How are you shifting the vibes in your life? Let me know in the comments.
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Until next time!
I hope that there is a Catastrophizing World Cup so that I can at least get a medal or something.
Early contender for “would this title be in Cosmopolitan Magazine or Tangent?”
Purely subjective experience, I know. When I’m envious, I’m not charitable.