When things are good

J says I should blog more when everything is AWESOME since I write so much about when things aren’t awesome at all. I definitely need to work on how I succumb to the negativity bias, and how much of my communication is about the bad things in life instead of all the rad stuff.

The negativity bias[1] (also known as the negativity effect) refers to the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than do neutral or positive things.[2][3][4] In other words, something very positive will generally have less of an impact on a person’s behavior and cognition than something equally emotional but negative. The negativity bias has been investigated within many different domains, including the formation of impressions and general evaluations; attention, learning, and memory; and decision-making and risk considerations.    —definition from Wikipedia

So, things are amazing right now. I’ve done a full decluttering of my life. Starting with cutting out unnecessary substances; beer, coffee, sugar, junky snacks and doing more to eat fruits and veggies, vitamins, herbal teas and other things that make me feel energetic and healthy. Lost 15 pounds and sleeping like a baby, endless energy.

Then I started hacking away at home clutter, giving away and selling extra things and making space for new projects, new activities, and also making it easier to work on some home improvement projects. J helped me finish off the sauna benches, and we’ve been steaming ourselves silly in the evening. I’ve been working on cleaning and repainting inside. We’re getting rid of more things that never found a good place after we moved.

I decluttered my ‘professional’ life and ditched projects and clients that I was struggling with, cleared out old portfolio stuff, and gave up the fruitless task of pursuing a graphic design or artist income. Now I have mental space to think about what I need to do, what makes me feel peaceful. I’m grateful to have the opportunity and luxury to hit the pause button and reconsider everything like this.

I feel like I’ve always been on the edge of dropping out of online life altogether, and am closer than ever. Podcasts about device lockout and encryption ransoming finally freaked me out enough that I’m super-strong-passwording everything, reformatting and backing things up, deleting social media accounts, and trying to have less online clutter. It’s sometimes easier to delete the account than change the password. How many stock photo site accounts do I need now that I’m not doing much design work? Delete, delete, delete! 🙂

The hardest and most liberating decluttering was the friend list. I’ve had terrible boundaries in the past, that all kinds of toxic people had crept past and brought all their friends. I spent last fall hiding from guests at my own house rather than have to spend another second small-talking to them. We never talked about what was really going on, and when I tried, they just got uncomfortable, angry or silent. Something had to change, I needed to make room for new friends. I deserve to have good friends who will be real with me, and they deserve same. After reading a lot of Buddhist philosophy, I’m learning things about myself, how to be a better, more peaceful person and friend, listening to my inner voice and respecting my instincts, not feeling obligated to friend and fix everyone and everything, having fewer/no expectations, making space for new things, not stagnating out of fear. I realized I don’t enjoy the company of women, and I don’t get what I need from friendship from them. But that’s ok, because now all those ‘friends’ can have their time back to make some real friends too. I’ve made several new connections around the end of the year that are going really well. The icky breakup phase was worth it to have a clean slate, to fill with people whom I have things in common (besides a former workplace).

J and I have also decluttered our personal time. We’re watching less toob and reading a lot, having long talks, spending more entertainment time out, taking more long walks, more cooking, eating better, learning new skills together, making new connections, doing better with our families, and making plans for the future.

I’m planting trees and seeds and mulching them with the compost and old leaves of last season’s garden. Things are growing well, now the gardener is back actively tending to it.