There is an enormous gulf between the stage where I started conceiving this exploration and the stage I am aiming for. Even the phases that shape this journey demonstrate how difficult it has been to get on the road, not to mention keep on going. Finding the strength to pull yourself out of despair and hopelessness and restore your belief in your ability to improve your life, to be happier and to be fulfilled is unbelievably debilitating. The changes are very slow, large intervals elapsing between each improvement, each one taking its time to make the necessary impact before jumping to the next phase. I am not sure what is harder: finding out what it is that you want to do in life or finding the means to actually do it. I assume they are both part of the same package, a constant search, each in pursuit of the other. It can be challenging, standing there, in a momentary junction of introspection, evaluating your accomplishments so far. Looking back and forth from the "past" to the "future," I have found myself wondering whether it was at all possible, with so many doubts and questions and so much disbelief corrupting my logical thinking and distancing me from the road.
The only solution I could come up with was to take it one step at a time: breaking it down to easy, achievable objectives, not reviewing or evaluating on a day-to-day basis, in order to avoid frustration and discouragement. And concentrating on the foreseeable future, regardless of long term goals, helps to navigate sensitive moments of disbelief and doubt.
- For starters, assuming we have all accomplished something we can be proud of, a stocktaking of these achievements can provide an all-important boost. I looked back at my life and chose to notice only my accomplishments and to filter out all my perceived failures and disappointments.
- Second, I decided to take the advice of a good friend who suggested I should "get going" and literally started having evening walks. Just by myself, with headphones, music, and my thoughts.
- And third, I embraced short motivational quotes as mantras to follow. It started inadvertently during one of the early walks, as I found it hard to get out of the house in the evening, leaving the children and the housework behind. My first mantra was simple: "Be consistent and persistent; aspire and resume dreaming." I found myself repeating this mantra obsessively whenever I felt low or brought down by my other tasks or my alienating thoughts.
My evening walks turned into morning runs: I started with a modest 3 km, which quickly turned into 5km, and within a few months I found myself participating in a 10km race. Running three times a week on a regular basis turned into a medium for regaining my confidence and getting me on track. Sport had never been a forte of mine. As a child, I attended dancing classes and loved every minute, but physical education was the only low grade on my school report cards. I remember the frustration of looking at a list of straight A grades with just one line raining on the parade. Because of this childhood disappointment, running (relatively well) became a second chance, an opportunity to heal a festering wound. And as a result of managing to overcome a weak spot after a struggle of many years, I felt energized and motivated, and I gained a sense of control over my body and recovered the strength of self-discipline.
It is running and other sports activities that got me in shape, but my brain, attitude and vantage point also needed to reboot. And so, since that very first mantra which provided a simple, rather childish stimulus—"be consistent and persistent; aspire and resume dreaming”—there were others to follow. Varying mantras, based on my state of mind, were conceived to guide my progress and aid in defining my journey. And though they change, I still find myself, from time to time, going back to that first mantra which did the trick and still does whenever primal encouragement is needed.