My son the psychologist-in-training tells me that there are five things that have been “proven” via evidence-based analysis to improve happiness.
1. Writing a daily journal.
2. Writing down three good things that happened every day.
4. Physical exercise.
5. Random acts of kindness.
I think it’s interesting that the first two have to do with writing. My son tells me that the first one, keeping a journal, applies to anything you’re creating that becomes part of the physical world. It could be writing and recording songs, writing fiction or non-fiction, even things like painting, where you put something of yourself into the physical world.
“Meditation,” according to my son, actually means practicing anything that keeps you in the moment. This might even apply to playing basketball, a thing that I wouldn’t have placed into the meditation category at all. But he says that it keeps you from ruminating about past uncomfortable conversations, embarrassments and disappointments, and keeps you from worrying about future difficulties…
For me, basketball keeps me in the moment better than traditional meditation does, at least what little I’ve experienced of sitting quietly and trying to silence my mind. And writing fiction works better than basketball.
It seems that writing can take care of several things on the short list of happiness promoters.
Writing my novel keeps me in the moment. If I’ve got big worries, I don’t want to write. I can’t. But if I can make myself start writing, most worries shrink to a manageable size for as long as I keep submerged in my characters. And when I’m done, I feel like I’ve accomplished something that sort of transcends the worries.
For me, writing fiction is also like journaling because I’m putting something of myself into ‘print’ and making it part of the physical world. The ciberworld, maybe, but I do hold out hope of taking the world by storm with my amazing best-seller, or at least finding my way into the vanity press, which, as you know, seems to be reaching readers quite effectively of late, and deserves a less pejorative title, in my humble and yet infallible opinion.
Vanity press? Nah. How about “reality press”?
Unless writers can be kept ignorant of the nuts and bolts of true self-publishing (as opposed to the pseudo self-publishing rip-off conglomerate that masquerades as numerous small independents) – self publishing is the future.
Then there’s this blog you’re reading, in which I’m giving you the best encouragement and advice about writing that I possibly can, just for the joy of possibly helping someone. That’s sort of a random act of kindness, you might say… Assuming my views are worthwhile rather than counterproductive, a debatable issue in light of my disagreement with many of the traditional writing tips of the how-to fiction writing world.
Then there’s the writing down of three good things that happen every day. That seems to involve writing – if you take it literally, as my son insists you should. (Rather than just thinking of three things, you know?)
Here’s just a thought on that. My strong belief in God as well as my background in Christian Fundamentalism (the “fundamentalism” part of which I’ve thrown over) has given me a long tradition of thanking God profusely for most every good little or big thing that has happened to me. This habit, for reasons that could be debated endlessly, has never seemed to affect my happiness one way or the other. I’m sure it was my fault. But writing down three good things every day without putting them into any religious context has helped. Dunno why the difference.
OK, I’m a foolish Christian. What’s new?
The bottom line is this: if you want to be happy and you’re one of the lucky few who can put two sentences together and feel great about it, you owe it to yourself to keep plugging away at your story and your blog. You’ll be happier.
Don’t let up for anything short of an asteroid. Not even a hemorrhoid.
Don’t worry whether or not you’ve got readers in copious quantities, or a boatload of native talent dripping from your fingers. Just keep putting part of yourself into the physical world of words on paper (or robo paper, whatever). There is inherent value in doing what we’re doing, regardless of ears (ear-regardless? No such word. Hello?)
Anyway, stop checking your email and surfing the net. Get back to your story, umkay?
Be happy, dammit!
“Do it now! Get to da Choppa!”
M. Talmage Moorehead
For a FREE download of my new e-book, Writing Meaningful Page-Turners, opt into my list: Click Here. The book takes a look at why we are more than storytellers, and how lucky we are to be inside the most influential group on Earth. The last chapter talks about how to meet a viewpoint character who will add a new dimension of meaning and fun to your life. Yes, I’m talking about Johanna Fujiwara! My Hapa Girl protagonist. If you haven’t met someone like her in your own writing, you have a wonderful experience coming!
Click Here for a FREE download of Writing Meaningful Page-Turners.
If you’d like to read my in-progress novel, Hapa Girl DNA from page 1, it’s here.