A few years ago, I picked up a little habit that has helped me navigate the hard times in life more gracefully, and appreciate the good times in life more thoroughly.
It’s a simple trick: whenever I feel an intense low or intense high in life, I write about it.
Whether it’s the stresses during a rough patch in a relationship, the elation after hitting a business milestone, the deep feels after a close friend’s wedding, or any number of emotional instances – when I feel a strong emotional pull in one direction of the other, I fire up Evernote and write through my thoughts.
I’ve found this practice to be helpful in a bunch of ways.
On the downswings, writing helps me clarify my thoughts and emotions, vent, and “get out of my head”.
Like talking through a situation with a close friend or confidante, writing forces me to think through my feelings thoroughly.
Plus, once they’re verbalized, whether it’s out in conversation or written on the page, the feelings stop being abstract and insurmountable.
In the same way that writing down your goals makes them more attainable, achievable, and real. Writing down your feelings or your problems can help you get above them.
Writing through the downsings has the added benefit of hindsight.
All these notes are in the same notebook of mine on Evernote, so when I go in to write during a downswing, I get the chance to look back over things that have bothered me before in the past.
Without fail, the things that have bothered me in the past – things that, in the moment, were so burdening they inspired me to write – always end up smaller and are often times downright trivial… with the benefit of hindsight.
That helps me put things in perspective and remember that, no matter how deep the depression, in time it will pass.
Sometimes, I even look back on these downswings and blush with embarassment or amusement.
Most of the emotional downswings I’ve felt invovling girls, love, and romance fall into this category.
While the emotional heartpangs and feelings during those downswings are certainly real, being able to look back in those moments and reflect on past instances helps me see the humor and silliness in those cases.
It’s the best medicine I’ve found for such times.
On the upswings – when I’m overcome with appreciation, gratitude, happiness, love, or any other deeply positive feeling – I appreciate writing for a different reason.
Thinking about it now (see! it’s funny how writing forces that!) I’m realizing that my motivation for writing through the upswings is less defined. Harder to pin.
First, I’ve found that thinking through and documenting positive feelings helps me examine them more deeply. The more deeply I understand what inspires intense positive feelings in myself, the more deeply I can appreciate them, and the more I can work to build a life rich with such positivity.
It also just feels good to document the good times. Good times are fleeting. Just like the bad times, they come and go. So I think part of me wants to document that, to capture it for reflection later.
Something like taking a picture to capture a special moment, but instead of being adultered by the motive of public sharing, the special moment is private, for myself.
There’s something nice about that.