Little Choices

Every day you make a million little choices. You choose to get out of bed. You choose to get dressed for the day. You choose to go to work or school or take care of children or relax or run errands. Each choice leads you to more choices or less choices. Once you choose to go to work, you choose how to get there; you choose your attitude on the way to work and at work; you choose how productive you will be; you choose whether or not to talk to coworkers; you choose when you will leave work and a thousand other choices.

Sometimes it feels like we don’t have a choice in things because life demands or expects certain things from us, but the truth is that we choose whether or not to cooperate. What I find interesting is that often times, the more we cooperate with life, the more choices we have. Choosing to get up rather than stay in bed leads to a wider range of choices on how to spend your time. Choosing to go out of the house for work or errands or school or something else usually gives us more choices about ourselves and our day. The biggest thing I have realized about choices though is that each little choice adds up to bigger choices, and all the little choices and big choices come together to make you who you are.

I made a choice a few years ago to make good choices. I decided that I would choose to act on any and all good thoughts I had. That simple choice led to many little choices, which led to some bigger choices, all of which came together to make me who I am today. I wrote in my journal the other day that I feel at peace with the world. I feel like I have done good things and led a good life. If I knew I was going to die today, I would have no regrets. I don’t think I could say that if I had not made that decision a few years ago to do good things.

We often tell ourselves that our little choices do not matter. We convince ourselves that it is just one day or one night or one person, so how much of a difference can it really make? I have learned by experience that one choice, one day, one night, one person can change everything. This may seem disheartening if you are thinking about a choice you made that led you down a path you did not want or if someone else’s choice forced you into a path you did not choose. But this post is not about the past. It is about the future. I am not saying to look back at your choices to determine how you got here. I am saying to look forward to what choices you can make to get you to where you want to be. You always have the choice to change. No matter how difficult or hopeless or painful your situation is right now, you have the choice to determine how you will react to it.

Choose today who you want to become and then make the choice to become that person. It won’t be easy. You will have to make difficult and sometimes painful choices. But if you are working towards who you want to be, it will all be worth it.

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New Year

There are a few hours left until the new year. Depending on where you are in the world, it might already be 2018.

I have never been the type of person to put much significance into dates, but I love the idea of a clean slate. I love that each year can bring something new and exciting. I have grown so much in the past few years that I’m not sure what’s left to work on. I know that I can and will continue to improve, but there’s nothing I feel I specifically need right now. I have had years of learning and improving in areas like forgiveness, love, patience, strength, faith, and hope. Now, I feel like this year can be less about improving and more about doing.

I want to get a new job. I want to make new friends. I want to find new ways to serve and help others. And I want to do more. I want to love more. I want to serve more. I want to do more in my callings at church. I want to do more with my friends. I want to do more with my family. I want to do more crafts and read more books and make more art. Now that I have improved mentally and physically and emotionally, I feel like it is time to just be everything I have become and more. This will be my year to do.

What is this new year for you?

A New Resolution

People have been asking me over the past week what my new year’s resolutions are. Up until this point, I have been in survival mode. I wasn’t thinking about the year… I was simply trying to get through the day. But today, the dust seems to have finally settled, and I discovered the one thing that I really want to do this year.

I simply want to be myself.

I spent so much of last year being sick, either physically or mentally, that I just couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. I couldn’t talk to people. I couldn’t exercise or play sports. I couldn’t smile. I couldn’t do little random acts of kindness. I couldn’t help around the house. I did some of these things anyway, but it took everything out of me.

This year, I want to enjoy being me. I want to go running just because I feel like it. And I want to talk to new people at church. I want to bake a cake and make cookies and get dinner ready, just for fun, just because I can. And I want to wash dishes and do extra laundry loads and vacuum. (Oh how I want to vacuum!) I just want to be able to do all the things my illnesses prevented me from doing.

You don’t really realize how precious those things are until you lose them. Having depression made me miss exercise so much. Breaking my thumb made me miss simply being able to tie my own shoes. Having anxiety and depression made me miss just being able to have a normal conversation with someone. And my health issues and depression made me miss being able to maintain a clean house.

So, though it may not seem like much to an outsider, I am excited to be able to do the normal stuff this year. And my resolution is simply to enjoy doing it because I have waited so long for this moment.

A New Year

It’s a relief that 2016 has ended. It hasn’t been the worst year for me. In many ways, it was one of the best years. But it was also one of the hardest years. I suffered a lot, but I gained a lot of reassurance and realized how strong I can be.

Still, this new year, my resolution is simply to do hard things. Life can be hard, and right now, dealing with insurance and appointments and changing jobs is hard. I don’t know what 2017 will bring, but I know I’m committed to pressing on.

This past year was so draining. I feel like I don’t have much left to give anymore. But… It’s a new year. It’s a chance for new beginnings. It’s an opportunity to let go of any hurt or disappointments or negative feelings. So, whatever I have left in me is what I will give. I will give my all. I will do the hard things. I will be who I want to be. And most importantly, no matter what happens, I won’t give up.

Being The One

I think most of us have that one person in our lives that can instantly change our mood. When that person tells you something good, it lifts you up. When you think they are upset with you, you wonder if you will ever be happy again.

Tonight I came to a realization: I am that person to someone else.

I know who those people are in my life. I have felt the effect of their influence on my mood over and over again. I never really stopped to think that I am that person for someone else though. What I say can have a powerful influence on the people around me without me even realizing the depth of that influence.

I know I mess up sometimes. I get overwhelmed and snap at people and say things that are not kind. I hope that I put out more good than negativity though. I hope I spread more love and understanding than judgment. And I hope that those people that I am the one who affects them are more uplifted than burdened, more comforted than criticized, and feel more loved than degraded.

But more importantly than hoping, I am going to make a greater effort to be one who uplifts and encourages, who shows others the good in themselves and who influences people not only to be better, but to feel better and be happier because of how I treat them.

Resolution

I don’t tend to put much meaning into milestones. My birthday is an arbitrary date that just happens to mark when I can say I am older. Likewise, New Year’s day is an arbitrary date that marks the beginning of a new calendar. In all reality, it is a social construct to keep everyone in sync with each other. This is evidenced by leap year. We have to readjust our time keeping to coincide with the time keeping of the Earth.

I know this is all pretty much irrelevant because everything is basically a mental construct of reality and is defined by what we believe. However, my point is that I don’t feel any greater need to determine my resolutions near January 1st than any other time of year. In fact, I think you are more likely to accomplish your goals if you start long before January 1st.

For instance, goals to exercise or eat healthier are generally reserved for after the holidays because people feel it will be easier with less temptations. However, there will always be temptations. By waiting until after the holidays, you are essentially telling yourself that you cannot resist temptations and therefore should not attempt to change habits that are likely to remain the same. Resolution shares the same root word as resolute and resolve. If you really have a resolve to change, why would you wait until New Year’s day to make that change?

Resolution also has the word solution in it. If you are deciding to implement a solution, wouldn’t you want to start right away? Why wait to fix your life or your marriage or your work responsibilities? If you have a solution to a real problem, why would you not want to do it right away?

So this year, I am making one, and only one, resolution. That resolution is to not wait until next year to make changes in my life. If I see something that needs to be changed or fixed or improved, I’m going to start right away. I am going to be resolute and determined in my resolve to be better and to find and implement solutions in my life. I am going to not just make goals and resolutions, but do them.

Hating Myself

I never really realized or thought about how much I hate myself until this last week. In fact, up until I started this project of changing how I see myself, I thought I loved myself for the most part. I thought it was just depression or bad days that brought thoughts of dislike.

So I asked myself, “why do you hate yourself? What about you is so wrong that you would want to kill yourself to get rid of it?” And I discovered a couple answers.

One, I don’t think about myself as a person. I think about myself in terms of deeds. So, when I look at my deeds overall, I feel like I’m a pretty good person. When I look at my individual deeds though, I can either feel amazing or completely horrible, which explains why I think of suicide so much. You wouldn’t want to kill someone you love, but in those moments where I mess up or I am misunderstood or I am not proud of how I acted, I hate myself.

Two, I feel like I can never give myself what I really want. I will never be enough for me. Because I have autism, I cannot communicate in a way sufficient to adequately express myself. I simply cannot talk to people and make friends in the way I have convinced myself that I should be able to do. I have gotten better, but it is not enough and will never be enough for the ideal I have had in my head of how I should be.

Three, I do not forgive my mistakes. I forget about them sometimes, but I do not forgive them. When I say something that could be taken in the wrong way, I replay in my mind the times when someone misunderstood my innocent communication to mean something that I did not intend. I have convinced myself that these offenses were my fault even though it was a misunderstanding. And when I do something completely normal, like say hello to a friend or send a text asking how someone is doing, I convince myself that it is wrong and that I am wrong and that I should not burden someone with my presence.

That is why it is so hard to believe the good things people say about me. How could they be true with this depth of self hate that I feel? How could anyone think positive thoughts towards me when in the very act of doing something good, I am insulting myself for my incompetence? How could I be thoughtful or kind or considerate when I told myself not to do that act of kindness or service because I was not worthy to perform such a deed?

It is not going to be easy to change this dialogue with myself. It is not going to be easy to convince myself to see past the images of worthlessness that I have established in my mind. It is not going to be easy to allow myself to be human. But… I am going to try.

I am going to try because someone else sees the good in me. I am going to try because people love me and want to see me happy. I am going to try because life is too short to hate yourself. I am going to try for me because it’s about time that I feel loved.