An interesting thing happened to me yesterday. I was reading a beautiful post by my friend Karen over at Mended Musings, and a line she wrote stood out:
I don’t usually post until I’ve come to some sort of conclusion that I (and hopefully others) can learn from.
It struck me because I often feel the same way: if something is bothering me, I generally don’t like to write about it until I’ve gotten some kind of answer. But I considered it more and realized that, in fact, many times I will write so that I can find the answer. Countless times I will sit down to write about a problem, and by the end of the writing session I realize the answer is there, a resolution to which I would not have come unless I took the time to put pen to paper (or, more accurately, fingers to keyboard). I can remember at least one post very clearly (Sticks and Stones) that helped me figure out the problem as I was writing about it!
Later the same day I came across some library books I checked out 2 weeks ago, then abandoned to the dining room, never to be open (and a good thing I did come across them, I’m sure they need to be returned). I decided to give one a cursory glance, the title of which is 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot, by Richard Wiseman. The premise: a psychologist gives “a myth-busting response to the self-help movement, with tips and tricks to improve your life that come straight from the scientific community.”
In the section I read, the author disproves the notion that talking about traumatic events (to an untrained person, he is not bashing counseling by any means) yields significant results in the way of increased happiness. However, an exercise he calls “expressive writing” has been proven to boost both self-esteem and happiness. As he writes:
From a psychological perspective, thinking and writing are very different. Thinking can be somewhat unstructured, disorganized, and even chaotic. In contrast, writing encourages the creation of a story line and structure that help people make sense of what has happened and work toward a solution. In short, talking can add to a sense of confusion, but writing provides a more systematic, solution-based approach.
Bingo! This was exactly what I was thinking while pondering Karen’s post! I couldn’t count the number of times the simple act of re-creating an event in my life for this blog has helped me to make sense of it, to put it into perspective, and to resolve whatever was left rolling around in my brain. I can say, without fail, that I feel happier every time I hit publish on this blog. Whether it is happiness at the mere accomplishment of writing a post, or the feeling of resolving an issue, or satisfaction from sharing my experience, strength and hope, or a combination of all, I feel good when I am done writing.
My husband surprised me with some of my favorite Italian delicacies the other night, and there is enough to eat again tonight. Not having to plan dinner + a second night of rarely eaten treats = miracle!