Tag Archives: Love Yourself

The Writing Itch and a Love Song for One

I've got the itch.

I’ve got the itch.

I woke up today and thought to myself for the first time in my entire life: I can write a book.

I’m not saying anyone will read it.

I’m not saying it will be good.

I’m not saying I have any good ideas. I don’t.

However, I can write a book.

I believe that because of what I’ve been able to do here. It’s a productivity thing. I’ve been averaging north of 1,000 words a day for close to a half year. You can fill a couple books with that many words.

There are people in this world—amazing, creative people—who splatter good ideas all over the place. These are how successful businesses are made. How great movies and television shows are made. How the most delicious food is made. And how the best books are written.

They start with ideas.

And that’s kind of a problem, because…

I Never Have Good Ideas

Case in point: My 10-year career as a newspaper reporter prior to my layoff in late 2009.

I could write a decent story when news was happening. Piece of cake. Event X happens. I write about it.

Same’s true of this blog, really. Some life event happens. I write about it.

Easy. Don’t have to think about it. Just tell you what happened and how I feel about it.

With the news, I just had to tell you what happened.

But some days, I had to come up with “enterprise” stories. That means, I have to dig. Find an angle on some random thing and manufacture a good story out of it. Those were my most-challenging days.

The same is true here with my daily blogging efforts. If I don’t have something specific to report on, I have to come up with some enterprise idea. I try to resort to what’s top of mind, when in doubt. To document the journey as best I can. And this is what I’m thinking about.

I Want to Love Myself Again

I stood in the shower first thing this morning. Hot water stinging my neck.

I thought about something I read before bed last night about how a man changed his life by making “I love myself” a personal mantra. By truly learning to love himself again after the rigors of adult life had stolen his innocence.

And then I got to thinking about how shitty I feel sometimes. About how I felt awesome as a kid. Every day. Even with my parents divorced. Even being alone a lot.

I felt great. I was sad when people died. I was sad when one of my best friends moved away. I was sad when I had to say goodbye to my dad after summer and winter visits. But I was also resilient. Bounced back quick.

I smiled. I was positive. I was kind. I was friendly. I loved.

I loved my family. I loved my friends. I loved myself.

Then adulthood hits. Christmas stops being magical. No one cares about your birthday. You lose touch with all your friends. You don’t go to huge parties with a hundred people anymore. You don’t get the same attention from the opposite sex that you used to. Your hopes and dreams begin to die as you watch other people achieve things and wonder what they have that you don’t.

You make bad choices.

The sins pile up.

Your insides get poisoned.

And then you frown a little more. You laugh a little less.

You darken. On the inside.

I’ve spent most of my adulthood believing this phenomenon happens because we have the wool pulled over our eyes as children. We’re innocent. We don’t know how ugly the world can be. Most of us—the really fortunate ones—don’t experience extreme tragedy and hardship as children. Those moments tend not to arise until we’re wading through adulthood. We thought we’d have life figured out once we got here.

Then we arrived. And we feel less ready than ever. Less confident than ever. More unsure than ever.

The clock ticks a little bit louder now.

Tick, tick, tick.

The bottom of the hourglass constantly filling, reminding us that time isn’t on our side.

Then we feel sad.

Angry.

Depressed.

Lonely.

Unfulfilled.

We search for meaning.

Believers ask: Why me, God?

Some believers stop believing because of this. Why have you forsaken me? I guess you’re not really there at all.

Non-believers say: I told you so. Nothing matters.

Some of us die hopeless and alone.

But not all of us.

Because maybe I’ve been thinking about this all wrong. Maybe the wool wasn’t pulled over my eyes.

Maybe I just really loved myself as a child. Respected myself. Took care of myself.

I chose good over bad. I was physically fit. I got plenty of sleep.

I had friends. I felt purpose going to school. I had goals and hopes and dreams.

But mostly, I had love.

Meant to Be More

I think I stopped loving myself after my layoff.

When I would lay around all day, unshaven in sweats and a t-shirt watching TV with my two-year-old son at home while my wife went to work.

It was a new kind of worthlessness.

I don’t remember how long my wife put up with me, but I should be grateful for whatever amount of time she did.

How could I expect her to love and respect me when I didn’t even love and respect myself?

I came close to getting it back.

In 2011, I started eating right and working out every day. I lost 30 pounds and became physically stronger than I’d ever been before. People would always compliment me when they saw me. That’s always an amazing feeling.

My confidence soared.

I was offered and accepted a job in June 2011, right around my son’s third birthday. I was now making significantly more money than I’d ever made before, plus I had income from my freelance writing business.

I thought I’d finally beat back my demons at that point. Everything felt really good. Back on track.

And then in October, just a few months later, the bottom fell out again when my father-in-law died suddenly. We had dinner with him. He was the same amazing guy and grandfather he always was. Then we left. And got a phone call the next night.

Then my life spiraled out of control.

I lost everything that mattered to me when my wife walked out the door on April 1 of this year.

I fell hard. And I’m still on the floor. I just fake not being there sometimes.

And I was reading that book last night before falling asleep. I love myself. I love myself. I love myself, the guy repeated over and over and over again.

He faked it for a while.

But then the message finally started to sink in.

I love myself.

He started to believe it, because we can trick our brains.

I love myself.

Then he started living like he loved himself.

Took care of his body. Took care of his mind. Took care of his soul.

Because he loved himself. Genuinely.

And then everything changed.

He felt happy again. That really pure happiness we feel as children. Not fake happy. Not drunk happy. Not drugs happy. Not sex happy. Not money happy.

Real happy. And then all the other pieces of his life fell into place, too.

This idea makes sense to me. You say we can’t go back? We can’t have what we lost?

Maybe we can. I’ve never bothered to ask. I’ve never bothered to try.

What if life didn’t ruin us? What if we just stopped loving ourselves the way we did when innocence was all we knew?

And what if starting again is how we get to where we want to go?

Can’t hurt to try.

It’s okay if it feels corny. It’s okay if it feels fake. It’s okay if we don’t believe it.

Because if we just say it enough times, we’ll start to believe it: I love myself.

An Idea Machine

That’s what I want to be. A guy who has ideas. So I can write something that matters.

And to have ideas, I need energy. And to have energy, I need to feel good. And to feel good, I need to love myself.

I like the hot shower first thing in the morning. Some of my best thinking happens there.

I want to work out. I want to look and feel good.

I want to be good even when no one’s watching.

I want to be a better friend, father, son, grandson.

I want to be financially responsible.

And then.

I want to write a book.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. For many years, my ultimate fantasy was to sit in a movie theater watching a film based on something I’d written.

As I aged, becoming more interested in the things that make human beings do human-being things, I began to gravitate more toward non-fiction.

I like simple stories. Few characters. Emotional heartache. Forbidden lust. Poisoned hearts. Ruined lives. Healing and forgiveness. Redemption. Or stories of greed. Deceit. Or simple comedy.

I like complex stories. An EMP attack. The world goes dark. Society breaks down. It’s everyone for themselves. What’s a husband, wife and two kids to do? When the cops don’t come. When there’s no more grocery store. Or pharmacy. Or hospital. Or military defense. Or anything.

I like ongoing stories. Like great television shows or novels with reoccurring characters.

I like books that offer solutions to problems. Books that help human beings become better versions of themselves.

I need to pick one and try. Because I finally believe I can do it. And that’s a big step.

But first I need energy.

Physical fitness. Spiritual wellness. Reduced stress.

And I’ll get that by treating myself with the love and respect I feel for those who matter most.

I love myself.

I want to take risks.

Take my shot.

Choose myself.

Because I miss that happy kid from all my old photos.

And I intend to find him.

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How to Feel Grateful, Vol. 2

daily-gratitudeI’m on a never-ending pursuit of happiness.

You are, too. You might not realize that’s what you’re doing. But you are.

Our human instinct is to grab, and take, and capitalize, and steal, and stuff our pockets, and hoard.

Me, me, me.

How can I have more?

How can I benefit?

How can I feel the best?

Sometimes, I don’t have answers. Only questions.

But sometimes, I have answers.

Sometimes, I actually know what the hell I’m talking about.

How to Feel Happy

I titled this post “How to Feel Grateful, Vol. 2” (You can read Vol. 1 here—though it’s among my least-favorite posts), because gratitude is a prerequisite to happiness.

You will not feel the thing we label “happiness,” if you are not first grateful for all that you have.

And you have A LOT.

“Life is short, life is very short. I like life. I like it. I feel like even if it ends up being short, I got lucky to get—to have it, because life is an amazing gift when you think about what you get with a basic life. Not even a particularly lucky life, or a healthy life. If you have a life, it’s a—here is your boilerplate deal with life. This is basic cable, what you get, when you get life. You get to be on earth. First of all, oh my God, what a location.

“This is earth, and for trillions of miles in every direction it fucking sucks. So bad! It’s so shitty that your eyes bolt out of your head, because it sucks so bad. You get to be on earth and look at shit as long as you’re not blind or whatever it is, that you get to be here, you get to eat food. You get to put bacon in your mouth! I mean, when you have bacon in your mouth, it doesn’t matter who is president or anything, you just ahh, ahhhh. Every time I’m eating bacon I think, ‘I could die right now,’ and I mean it. That’s how good life is.” – Louis CK

Here’s how to feel happy:

1. Love yourself.

2. Give more than you take.

a. Give more than you take in your human relationships. Do the little things. Say nice things. Don’t say mean things. Apologize. Say “Thank you.” Say “I love you.” When you feel like you’re getting more than you’re giving, you should work extra hard to give more. Like a contest.

b. Give more than you take in your career. Treat the people you deal with—coworkers and customers—with respect. Give, give, give. Do more. Try harder. Be the best. Then, they give you more money. If they don’t give you more money, another employer will because they want the best person on their team. When you really figure it out, you eventually just make your own job.

c. Give more than you take spiritually. I don’t know what you believe. For the purposes of this, I’m not sure it matters. Just don’t pray and plead and beg when the shit hits the fan. Don’t cry out for help without being appreciative of life’s blessings also. Pray when it’s good. Or just say “Thank you” to the universe. Mean it. Feel it. Bottle that good. Then give some of it to someone else so that they can do the same.

3. Get plenty of sleep.

4. Exercise.

5. Be kind to others.

6. Don’t procrastinate.

“But Matt! You’re totally miserable! Why should I listen to you?”

Don’t, if you don’t want to. Feel shitty, like me. Knock yourself out.

I know I’m right because it’s hard. I know I’m right because it sounds like work. I know it’s hard because these are all of the things I’m NOT doing.

My favorite writer has already written it all a hundred times a hundred different ways and he says it all much better than I do.

You should read it. And you should pretend it’s the most-important thing you’ve ever read.

Then you should change your life.

Thank You

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States.

A day to count our blessings. A day to say “thanks.”

I am grateful for the air I breathe.

I am grateful for my beautiful son.

I am grateful for a warm home on a cold day.

I am grateful for a reliable vehicle to get me to my destinations.

I am grateful for food.

I am grateful for music.

I am grateful for family.

I am grateful for friends.

I am grateful for you.

I am grateful for another opportunity to keep trying. Each day, a chance to make my life what I want it to be. A chance to wake up and do what is necessary to achieve peace. To seize happiness and make it mine.

It won’t be by frantically grabbing scraps as if there isn’t enough to go around.

It will be by sharing the treasure trove with others. By sharing a bottomless well of joy with everyone willing to make the journey there, and by encouraging the unwilling to try.

I am alive.

I am blessed.

I am loved.

I love.

You keep looking for miracles, but you don’t always see them.

Go find the nearest mirror and take a good, hard, long look.

Because you’re the miracle.

And I’ve never felt more gratitude for you than I do right now.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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