I remember reading somewhere that writer Anne Lamott
thinks about herself in the third person, to take better care of
herself: “I’m sorry, Anne Lamott can’t accept that invitation to speak;
she’s finishing a book so needs to keep her schedule clear.”
find that often, the same trick helps me to be realistic about myself.
"Gretchen gets frantic when she's really hungry, so she can't wait too
long for dinner." "Gretchen needs some quiet time each day." "Gretchen
really feels the cold, so she can't be outside for too long."
Yes, I admit, this approach makes me sound a bit affected and self-important, but the thing is, it really works.
instance, for the last few weeks, I felt...depleted. Physically, I felt
energetic enough, but mentally, I was like a cell phone that couldn't
take a charge. I couldn't figure out what to do, but finally I thought
of myself in the third person.
As the long holiday weekend
approached, I asked myself, "What's the best medicine for Gretchen when
she feels drained?" And, when I framed the question about my nature that
way, from outside myself, I immediately knew the answer. "Gretchen gets mentally refreshed by doing a lot of reading."
what I needed. No writing; hours and hours of reading. A novel I'd
never read before, a novel that was long enough to last, a novel that
was absorbing without being so demanding that it would just exhaust me
more. Fortunately, I had exactly the right book, right on my bedside
table. I spent a good part of the holiday weekend reading Neal
Stephenson's Reamde. And by the time I finished the book, I felt restored.
It seems as though it should be so easy to know yourself, but it's
very, very challenging. For me, it's often easier to gain self-insight
by using indirect routes—such as asking myself questions like What do I lie about? or Who are my patron saints?—rather than by trying to look at myself directly.
I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too!
Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who
can’t benefit. Join in—no need to catch up, just jump in right now.
* Lots of great material on Positively Positive—"your attitude + your choices = your life."
* The holidays are approaching! If you're giving The Happiness Project as a gift (can't resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller), and you'd like a signed bookplate or signature card to include with it, sign up here or email me at
. But do it fast! There's not much time.