Yesterday’s writing prompt was about the backdrop details, and thinking about what you take for granted. The things you don’t notice that enable you to do what you need to do.
Pick some routine event or activity from today. Step back and try to take an objective look at this narrative. What are you taking for granted? What allows this routine to take place the way it does? BONUS: Tie-in what you take for granted with a perspective of gratitude.
This is a habit I now have when listening to or reading stories from others. I ask myself, what are they not telling me about? What do I have to assume or believe in order for their story to seem realistic?
When it comes to movies, we typically suspend our disbelief. We allow ourselves to get lost in a virtual world, because we choose to accept the assumptions. The magic is lost when you choose not to believe.
So my take on the above…10 minutes, starting now:
When thinking about starting points and assumptions, a story I had heard came to mind. I forget exactly what the context was. But it was someone recounting starting a business, as a teenager. The business was very successful initially but then took a downturn.
And he mentioned having a reflective moment at his family’s waterfront vacation home. Somewhere else he mentioned that his parents were both doctors, and his father was a renowned researcher in a specialized medical field.
I started by asking: what allows someone to take risks? Part of it is mindset, for sure. Just as important is the question of opportunity cost and downside risk.
This is not to detract from his clear enterprising ambitions, ability to take action, and build something - at an early age, no less. But I could see the risk being much greater for someone whose family relied on the teenager’s steady income to make ends meet. The absence of need gave this young man the clear space, the runway, he needed to make the most of his opportunity - which he did. (More than many of us can say!)
This anecdote made me reflect on my own life. I write in this blog and a couple others most days each week. I don’t write nearly as much as I would like, but I am working on it. And I focus on the gap: the fact that I am not writing as much as some arbitrary amount that I would like. I believe people are naturally problem solvers, so our minds take us to where the problems are. This is a recipe for constant unhappiness unless we can recognize where we are in the bigger context (achievements and progress as well as remaining problems to solve).
So I thought about what takes place for me to even be writing this post right now.
- I have full-time employment that allows for some remote work
- I gained software engineering skills that allowed me to build this site
- I am generally in good health
- My family is supportive
- My mind is a stream of endless chatter :-)
- I received an education and upbringing that fueled my passion for literature
I have all these things to be grateful for. However, when I sit to write - and I am not sure if the same is true for many of you - I almost always feel like I am not writing enough.
Why can’t I get here more? I am not here enough.
Is the first thought I have when I sit down to write.
Here’s another approach to thinking about this.
I am grateful for all the things that allowed me to get here today. It is one more writing session, one more post, than I would otherwise have.
Take time to deliberately recognize the incremental achievement. Your mind will naturally remind you of the road ahead, but make it a point to look back sometimes to see how far you’ve come.