On Being a “Writer” (part 10: Working With Emotion, Happiness)

A few weeks ago, I tore through a post with hate on my heels. Now, I am experiencing a seemingly opposite emotion, but there is a similar lesson. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it,” Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Ok, cliché, but it rings true. What’s funny is that, from the last post on Emotion (the Anger Chapter), I knew how to fail forward. I broke through my clouds of frustration and tasted the blissful sunlight of success. This was not an easy thing for me to do, but I have thoroughly planned ahead for these moments–the times when I’m feeling a typically negative emotion and how to work through that to remain effective.

What I don’t have as much experience with is planning for similar issues, but opposite emotions. When things are good, we usually don’t feel like we need to reach into the personal work tool belt. I picked the Ferris Bueller quote for a few reasons: (1) It’s true: life can change in an instant. Mere days ago, I was very angry, and today I am “completely, and perfectly, and incandescently happy” (please pardon the schmaltz); and (2) I actually took the day off yesterday to “stop and look around,” which wasn’t a seriously bad thing that caused dire consequence (it might have actually been good for me because I’m a workaholic and need to slow it down every once in a while), but the point is that I didn’t work and I consider that a failure of sorts.

I consider the fact that I didn’t work a failure because I didn’t try to regulate my emotion to remain effective. I got a case of the “fuck its,” and spent a lovely afternoon catching up with a close friend and girlavanting downtown. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with this. I did not have a looming deadline nor did I lose any money, respect, or real time. I had weighed the tangible costs of forgoing a workday and determined them minimal.

As I’ve discussed, it’s not necessarily about the individual decision, but also about the practice and discipline. I could have tried to push through, but it was tough for me to even name the action as “perseverance” because I don’t usually associate something as being difficult if it feels so darn good. So, today, I’m trying to use this as an opportunity to pump the brain iron and build this mental muscle. Instead of running around tending to the garden that is my Instagram account, I’m going to work as if I were angry, and smile because I most certainly am not.

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