The Experiment ~ A 365 Day Search For Truth, Beauty & Happiness ~ Will You Help/Join Me?


Houston, we have lift off!

First of all let me say that I have a few people to thank for this project/post and if you read yesterday’s post and then this one it will perhaps be a rather startling sea change but there are reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the dose of my anti-depressant, raised several times in 2 months, have finally, I believe, kicked in. I am telling you this because many people wonder what it’s really like to be on an anti-depressant and what it feels like when it really does, at last, work. Some people never stick with the drug long enough to find out. For me, this morning, it was, I am imagining, like that feeling when you have lift off in a hot air balloon, when you finally leave the ground, when you are airborne, aloft, and for maybe the first time in your life you are looking at distant vistas and things from above, not below. It is nothing short of a miracle. I don’t know how long this state of mind will last, but it’s enough to get me off the ground with this project, and I am hoping that this project will keep the ball rolling from there. I am taking not a mind over matter approach but a mind + matter, the latter being the medication that I take religiously. I have been on medication and off and back on. For me, on is better, it is a tool in the tool box we use when suffering from long term mental illness. I want to note, at this juncture, that I am no Little Mary Sunshine and my life circumstances have not changed from yesterday until today but the medication is giving me the lift that I need to undertake this project.

Now, to the people. First, the beautiful Effy Wild who started thisΒ September Blogalong Challenge With EffyΒ and got me writing regularly on my blog again. You somehow have to get the ball rolling. Effy did that for me by inviting us to this challenge. I will finish the September challenge with Effy even as I start my own 365 Day Project because I want to finish the former, and if I wait to start until October 1 to begin my project the air may quite literally have come out of my balloon. The second person I want to thank is the amazing Jenny Lawson whose 3 books absolutely saved me. In the midst of a months long deep depression that seemed as though it would never end, when I couldn’t even smile, Jenny’s books had me laughing until tears ran down my cheeks. My therapist is reading them now and loves them. They are the best. And finally, I want to thank Neil Gaiman because of what he did for Jenny Lawson. I have heard the same story from both of them. First in Neil’s incredible commencement speech referred to as “Make Good Art,” in which, without mentioning her name, he tells the story of the young writer that he gave advice to. Then from Jenny Lawson, who happened to be the young writer he gave advice to. She was starting to read aloud the audio version of her book and she was utterly terrified. When she contacted her friend Neil Gaiman he told her to “pretend to be someone who was good at it.” She did just that, she got the book recorded, and all went well. “Cowabunga! That’s IT!” I thought last night when I was reading before bed. It just came over me like a sudden burst of heavenly song, I don’t exactly have to BE happy just yet, but I can pretend to be somebody who is happy. And the 365 Day Search For Happiness was born.

Also I was reading, before bed, a book that I’ve really come to love and appreciate, The Wishing Year, by Noelle Oxenhandler. It is, to me, an interesting and not woo-woo book. I got to the part last night where she quoted something we often hear today, “thoughts become things.” She wrote about how she had read that things we focus on we bring more of into our lives. Now I am not about to start quoting The Secret or go all New Agey on you but it did make sense to me that writing incessantly about my struggles with mental illness, focusing on it so much, wasn’t really helpful. I meant to be helpful by sharing what I was going through in an attempt to help others who also suffered but the outcome has been that I spend the days living through the hard times and then writing about them so that my whole day is focused on the hard stuff. Even if it is helpful for others it is not helpful or productive for me. This is why I have stopped writing every book I was trying to write on living with mental illness. It just brought me down and amplified my suffering.

I am not naive. I am not going to spend a year recording my search for happiness and somehow be cured of mental illness. But, in trying to write, every day for 365 days, something that made me happy, recalling some happy time in my life, or making lists of things I love, or some days, if I’m really struggling, to just put up a happy picture and a word or a quote or a line or two (pretending to be someone who is happy, at least for that moment) the cumulative effect could be a shift in consciousness, perhaps ever so subtly, on the days my brain dips down into darkness. I live with mental illness, that is a fact, but living with it, and letting it consume me, can be two quite different things I have decided. Or so I hope. I’m going to try. That is The Experiment.

One thing that came to me immediately, last night, as I was reading and this project was rising in me, was that for these 365 days, save this one where I had to lay it all out for readers, I will NOT use the words Mental Illness. It will not have gone away, I am not denying it or ashamed of it, and certainly I will be talking to people close to me as well as my therapist as my real life healing journey continues, BUT at least on this blog I am only going to write about the things I am finding that make me happy. On a hard day maybe I’ll put a picture of a horse with the caption, “I love horses, they make me happy.” At least, in this way, I can keep going, I will not set myself up for unrealistic expectations about writing long blog posts about the search for happiness every single damned day! But I will keep on keeping on, come what may. I am writing to save my life, to change my life, and I am hoping that I might be able to help you too.

To that end I am shamelessly asking for your help, and hoping to help you into the bargain. It will help me enormously to have a cheering section to help me keep going. If you can come here and read the posts as often as possible and then leave a comment to cheer me on (The comment could simply be a smiley face!), that would be just SO fabulous and I would appreciate it more than I can say, AND if you would come here each day, and maybe, whether you comment on my post or not, leave your own happy thought for the day, even if it’s a quote you find uplifting, or something you saw or experienced that day (maybe you found one of those amazing wildflowers that come up through a crack in a sidewalk, maybe a tiny snail crossed your path, maybe you watched a youtube video or read a book that made you laugh.), the only “rule” is that you DON’T leave a negative or down comment. This will be a place where like The Little Engine That Could we will keep going until words become things, until we actually feel a lift in our heart, at least in some precious moments, and if I’m right, this could grow! And if we join together here we will become a community of people dedicated to our own personal search for happiness.

Will you join me? Will you cheer me on? Will you share these blog posts on with as many people as you can? I think there would be a lot of people who could benefit by just coming each day and leaving a happy comment on their own search for happiness, whatever their circumstances or for whatever reason. I would be so grateful. I am 63 years old. This is my moment, the moment when I am actually taking my life in my hands and trying to make a difference, and I know 365 days is a long stretch but I also know, having lived under these dark clouds most of my life, that 30 days just isn’t enough to affect a change. And finally, as I have long asked my students, “If not, why not? If not now, when?”

It’s time. Let us begin…

(For today I will start with one so easy it’s kind of cheating, but PUGS make me happy. Very, very happy. They save me everyday…)

If you enjoy this blog a donation would be deeply appreciated to help me continue to bring “Maitri’s Heart” to you. Thank you, and many deep blessings to one and all…

Comments

  1. What a great project. <3 Those pugs make ME happy!

    • Thank you so much sweet Effy. It means a lot to me that you are here AND yes, puggeries are love muffins and joy bringers! πŸ˜€

  2. I am in on this! I will be here for you the best I can.

  3. Of course I will join you!
    Margaretha
    If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint”, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.
    Vincent van Gogh

    • Yay Margaretha!!! I’m so glad to see you here honey, I appreciate your being with me so much. I was just about to write you an email. And thanks for the van Gogh quote. I really love it. A gentle hug and a kiss on the cheek to you… <3

  4. Nikki Roeder says:

    Pugs make me happy too. I wish you happiness, peacefulness, and good luck on your new blog.

    • Thank you so much Nikki! I appreciate that so much! I hope you will come back and share some happy moments with me… πŸ™‚

  5. Hi sweetie – hip hip hooray! you are on the path, and what a happy path it is!

    i read once about the 100 days of happiness project. Tom and I wrote every evening in our journals, for 100 days, about something (or somethings) that made us happy that day. then we read our entries aloud to each other. We loved doing this so much, we started over, and got about 40 days in to the next segment when “life got in the way.” Now we write every so often, and enjoy, as you say, focusing on something and finding meaning in it.
    Last night was Rosh Hashona, the jewish new year (number 5778!) and we attended
    a sacred ceremony followed by yummy food. it was easy to write a happiness entry after that. I, like you, am determined to start THIS new year with cheer! and to honor that, i put some glorious bubblegum petunias (pink, they bloom FOREVER) in a big pot in my front yard. Guaranteed happiness!!!!

    xo
    ka

    • Ah Katya, how wonderful that you and Tom were able to do your happiness project together! I hope you will leave some happy thoughts here along the way with me. TODAY’S HAPPY THOUGHT — Bubblegum pink petunias!!! I don’t think it gets better than that! I hope you will send me pictures!

      I love you honey, so much…

      M.

  6. A wonderful idea! My pup makes me happy too! I love your 365 day search for happiness challenge.

    • Oh thank you so much for being here Louise! And yes, you know I don’t know how people manage life without a dog!!! πŸ˜€ I hope you’ll come back and share more happiness with us!

  7. Victoria SkyDancer says:

    I could use a change of focus in my life, for sure. Coming back to my natal sign of Libra has shown me where I need to restore Balance in my life. Equinox is a good day to start that. πŸ™‚

    • Ah sweet Victoria Happy Equinox! I just wrote to a friend a few minutes ago that autumn has always been my favorite time of year. I look forward to it all year long. I like it when it gets dark earlier — I know many people dread this — but for me it’s about hunkering down, getting cozy, and feeling safe under the cover of darkness. It is soothing to me. And what an auspicious day to start my experiment in happiness! At the beginning of my favorite season and it will end as the equinox comes around again! Auspicious indeed. I am sending you lots of love honey, and may you have many happy Libra days ahead… πŸ™‚

  8. Excellent experiment, I will happily cheer you on as much as I can ❀️ ❀️ ❀️

    • Thank you so much darling Rachel! And I hope you will join in and share some happy moments with us. Sending you love and a gentle sweet hug! πŸ™‚

  9. You can probably hear me cheering all the way across the continent and quite a ways north. This is a Beautiful Plan so I’m going to have a chat with it: On days when life’s giving Maitri a punch, please be kind to her, dear Plan. She can share a laugh about a pug’s antics. She can describe the exquisite first sip of morning coffee. She can revel in the feel of fresh sheets as she crawls into bed. She can gasp at a sunset. And that will be enough. Gratitude is a healing practice, and we are all grateful for Maitri’s amazing skill with words, her generosity in sharing the struggles. So we will not, dear Plan, brook any tsk-tsking you throw her way if some days feeding the pugs and herself are the mountain she climbs. We will celebrate each step she makes up Joy Mountain and will hold her on the steep stretches.

  10. Oh Cathryn honey, this made me cry, in the BEST possible way. For you to be so present, for me to feel so heard and felt, you’ve just no idea how much it means to me. I cherish you beyond words, thank you so much for this. And thank you for giving my Plan a talking to. And yes, I think this year’s journey will be a book, but I won’t worry about that until it’s over, I just have this feeling that it might help people, and that is what I want to do most of all. For now, one day at a time, one bless-ed moment at a time, one smile, one belly laugh, feeding a little pug as you say, “all the things” that come. It will be a year of celebration one way or another, and having you here on the journey makes me so happy. I am sending you a gentle warm hug and a sweet kiss on the cheek… <3

    • Awww, I’m feeling the love, Maitri, and it’s flowing in a circle, a circle that includes everyone who reads your words, who loves you when you’re flying with happiness, who loves you when you’re scared, and who cheers you on 24/7/365.

      • Thank you so much sweet Cathryn. I am hugging you REAL BIG all the way from North Carolina. I love you honey, so much… πŸ™‚

  11. Paula Brown says:

    I love the new plan too. We can all use an infusion of joy and sharing it doubles it. Watching the bunnies nibbling in the back yard, giggling at ferrets romping and chattering, finishing a sewing project that was a challenge and I resisted the temptation to quit and kitties purring me to sleep… All these make me smile.

    • Oh Paula, I’m so glad you’re here too! And yes, we all need joy and shared it doubles, triples, quadruples it! And I love your happy images, bunnies, ferrets, kitties and yes, finishing a project that was a challenge, for sure! Onwards and upwards dear friend, onwards and upwards!

  12. I think this is a wonderful idea. I’ll gladly cheer you on ?

  13. What a grand idea…grand as in better than good! It’s going to do you and us your readers a world of good!

  14. Yey, Maitri! I’m behind you all the way, and share your enthusiasm for embracing positive thoughts. They make all the difference, when I can keep embracing them!

    • Lisa it’s so good to see you here with us honey, and YES! to embracing positive thoughts, I’m going to try as hard as I possibly can. No, what just flashed through my mind as I wrote that is what Yoda said and it has always stuck with me, “Do or do not, there is no try.” I’m going to DO. I hope you will join me and share some happy moments and positive thoughts! I think they are even more powerful when we write them down, and sharing them makes them more powerful still! Thanks for writing. I’m sending you Big Love! πŸ™‚

  15. Hope this helps you. I will read them and leave comments when I can. I am thrilled to hear your meds are starting to work. Onward, Maitri!

    • Thank you so much dear Sheila, as I wrote yesterday I am no Little Mary Sunshine, this is not going to be like waving a magic wand and making all the hard times go away, it’s about hopefully making life more manageable, I see it as opening windows and letting a little more light in with each post. Even when days are harder I hope I can feel a breeze coming through. I am taking my life into my own hands, I will not go down like the Titanic. I SEE the iceberg, and I’m steering around it to save my life. At least this is my hope. Love to you honey… <3

  16. Maitri this is a brilliant project! Well done! Your post makes me very, very happy.

    • Thank you so much dear Jenny, and I so appreciate you being here. I hope you will join in and share some happy moments with us along the way. I am sending you love and a gentle warm hug… πŸ™‚

  17. Hi Maitri, I am interested in this and I’m looking forward to posting too. Thank you for starting this. I may be late like I am today but hey that’s okay too. This whole idea makes me happy <3

    • Oh I’m so glad that you are joining in Jean and that the whole idea makes you happy! It makes me happy too and I’m delighted to see you here. I look forward to your sharings and hope it means something wonderful for you along the way. And there’s no such thing as being late! This blog is open 24/7 and I answer as soon as I can so come anytime! I’ll look forward to seeing you! πŸ™‚

  18. Blessings on your journey! You have a good and kind spirit. I will try and join in when i can. Having my own ups and ———— (i won’t say it.) πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you so much Rainne, how lovely you are. And yes I have my ups and ——– too πŸ™‚ but I’m hoping this 365 day project will help me keep my spirits up, I’d love for you to join in whenever it feels right to you. Blessings & Love…

  19. I love it! All of it! And the concept of it resonates deeply with me! I think it will help me in my writing life! I love you Maitri!!! πŸ™ŒπŸ‘πŸ’‹πŸ’‹πŸ’‹

    • Oh thank you dear Shelly, I’m glad you found this. It is helping me so much, even on the hard days when just showing up is as much as I can do, as in today’s “Meerkat” post! I hope it helps and I’m so glad you’re here. Sending you love and wishes for a day full of blessings…

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