Reframing Challenges as Art

This week I started learning to cook and style my hair (thanks, YouTube!)

I have tried this in the past, purchasing Blue Apron and multiple hair tools, thinking that new purchases would motivate me.

When I started to examine past pitfalls and why I have given up on new endeavors, I realized that I viewed these tasks as chores, similar to taking out the garbage.

After reading this article, about the importance of art and imperfection, however, I was inspired to shift my view. Hairstyling and cooking are both creative activities. They are both tactile, requiring both hands and concentration but simultaneously allowing for daydreaming.

I have started to view these activities as art.  As rebellion. As an escape from the constant messaging that the world wants to put in front of us: advertisements, social media, dating apps, screens.

And as soon as I started doing that, it became so much easier to get motivated. I began to appreciate the texture of the foods against my fingers, began to even appreciate a dent in a curl.

Seeing it all as a learning experience, seeing imperfections as valuable, moves me forward.

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Cut It Out

Career website The Muse recently posted an article suggesting that, in order to improve your life and keep your resolutions, you should focus on what to cut out of your life rather than what to add to it.

I like this approach because, while I am tempted to make 10-15 resolutions at New Years time, I can only realistically focus on 1-2 goals at a time. Therefore, applying this strategy to the list itself is very valuable because it helps me prioritize.

Additionally, removing clutter in your life – whether it is physical clutter or a habit that takes up valuable time – frees up resources. So work towards completing your goals starts to feel less stressful.

My deletions are as follows:

  • I will stop going out to eat during the work week.
  • I will clear out an entire day each weekend for self-care.
  • I will focus on one hobby per month.

Gold Stars

I am reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In the book, Rubin mentions how one of her primary motivators is recognition – the figurative “gold star.” This pushes her to work harder but also leads to some negative feelings when she does not receive the recognition she expects – particularly resentment towards her husband.

I am reluctant to blog about my experiences because I am afraid I am falling into my own “gold star”-seeking quest. Is mentioning that I am reading that book a “gold star”-seeking behavior in itself? Is mentioning that, inspired by the book, I cleaned the clutter from the flat surfaces in my room, a “gold star”-seeking behavior?

I don’t want praise. I don’t really want to give advice, either. I just want to share my experiences.

I will continue to write and try not to fall into the trap of navel-gazing or compliment-fishing. Wish me luck.