Quote of the Week: “Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Writing Exercise of the Week: If you had a secret life that was delicious and immensely rewarding, what would it be like? Write for 10 minutes.
We all want happiness. Whether it be at work, at home, in our relationships, or with our own passions and desires, we all want a crack at that good feeling stuff. In every day and in every moment, we are making decisions that will bring us the happiness we seek.
But what if we’re not feeling so great? It could be the result of current stressors in our life (family, money, work, a negative interaction), or something we’ve been living with for a while (old hurts, betrayals, loss, loneliness).
I have a suggestion: write about it. Of course I was going to say that, right? Right! Here’s why: Writing it down gets it out of our head. When difficult moments or memories are left to float around untethered, they collect all sorts of information, some of it true, most of it not, but we believe it all nevertheless. For example, during a heated argument, someone may have called you poor. He’s a jerk, you know he’s a jerk, but you let the comment fester. You tell everybody about what he said, hoping they’ll side with you and confirm that he is, indeed, a jerk. Late at night, you’re figuring out ways to exact revenge, to prove you are decidedly not poor, and might even start searching the want ads or Googling get rich quick schemes. You might collect a few good comeback lines you can zing his way when you see him next.
Then you crash. His words hit your heart, and you suddenly feel poor. Who are you kidding? You are poor. You’re a loser. You can’t do anything right. And now everyone knows it. You crawl into bed wishing you (and your life) were different. You feel vulnerable, confused and devastated because your mind has taken hold of a moment and gone to town with it.
But if you write it down—what happened, who was there, how you felt, what it brought up for you—the emotional charge lessens and in some cases disappears. The anger that’s been fueling your adrenaline-induced state has dissipated, and you’ve closed the gap between where you are (unhappy) to where you want to be (happy or at least happier than before).
Our reluctance to write things down is because we dread reliving a painful memory, but I’ve found that once we get it down and see it for what it is, it no longer holds power over us.
So write it down. Take today’s prompt to create a whole new story for yourself. Get in touch with what feels good; put a smile on your face by choosing happy possibilities for your future. Then look through past columns for prompts that help evoke memories and moments from your past. Free yourself from what doesn’t feel good and start amassing the stuff that does. There’s a lot more than you realize.
Darien will be speaking at the Thelma Parker Memorial Library on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 6 p.m., about her creative process and path to publication. Her next five-week workshop, Writing Life Stories: Writing the Memoir, begins Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. Visit waimeaeducation.com for more information and to register.
Darien Gee is a national bestselling author based in Waimea. Her most recent novel is The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. She also writes under the name Mia King. Visit her at dariengee.com and miaking.com.