Sunflowers - Dordogne, June 2010
Well, this was nearly a very 'half-finished' blog. Or rather, a 'finished' blog (an ex-blog as John Cleese might say).
I wish I could say that some great crisis or excitement has prevented me from posting. Alas no. I didn't break both arms in a fluke shopping accident. I haven't been away for four months sailing across the Atlantic single handed. I just got out of the habit of blogging. Then, I'd stopped for so long, I didn't know how to start again. The longer I left it, the more the blog took on the guilt-inducing characteristic of a postponed chore, rather than a creative activity. It was in danger of becoming one more half-finished project in my life, the shortcut on my laptop desktop a constant reminder of yet another example of my fecklessness/ laziness/ lack of self-discipline/ lack of staying power etc. It joined the long list of activities taken on over the years and then abandoned through inertia and procrastination, the knowlege of which gradually chips away at the self-esteem: the oft started but never completed Italian evening classes; the neglected gym memberships; the 'vintage' garden chairs awaiting renovation; the yoghurt maker; the loom (I'll tell you about the loom one day!); the handweights, now lugged on 3 house moves, in pristine condition. Ho hum.
But I've missed the blog. I've missed it because of what it brought into my life. Looking back at my first post I remember that I started blogging in order to 'taste the strawberries' - notice and appreciate the good things in my life. That's what I've missed. There's no doubt that we see what we are in the habit of noticing. The desire to write a blog fuelled a habit of looking out for good things to share, to photograph, to describe. Without the motivation of the blog, I think I've been noticing and appreciating the good things a little less.
In his book Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman reports on research done to measure the positive impact on depressed people of a simple exercise in noticing the good things. Participants in this research were asked to write down 'three blessings' every night before they went to sleep. These 'blessings' were simply required to be good things about their day. Not achievements, not major events, just good things - seeing some pretty flowers, watching a good film, having a chat with a close friend, completing a suduko puzzle, seeing a rainbow, getting kissed - whatever they had enjoyed about their day. They were to do this for a month. At the end of the month, the levels of 'depression' were measured and found to be decreased in all participants.This in itself is interesting, but what is really significant is that 6 months after the exercise, even though those involved were not asked to continue with the blessings, levels of depression were still lowered. (If I were a proper academic, I would have the actual statistics to hand, but I'm not. However you can read more in this report here and Martin Seligman's Authentic Happiness website).
Maybe this blog is my 'blessing' exercise? In any case, I'm having another go at this blogging lark.
So what are your three blessings today?