The most valuable choice I have made during my time here at William & Mary is sign up to take Professor Crace’s flourishing class. During freshman orientation, Professor Crace will talk to the incoming class about the idea of authentic excellence. He speaks on how to incorporate this idea into your everyday academic life. After hearing his speech at orientation, I decided to take flourishing: the mental training required to be your own advocate every day. This class has taught me so many things and as the semester comes to a close I thought I’d take the time to reflect and share some of the lessons Crace has gifted me.
1. Honor the Reaction, Challenge the Conclusion
When we get upset, we often tend to draw up “facts” or solid conclusions about ourselves, our environment and our progress. It’s in our nature. When things get hard we want answers! I did bad on this test okay well what did I get wrong? Why did I get this wrong? That’s stupid, this test is stupid, I’m stupid. These thoughts are a lot more common than a lot of people think, and most of the time we don’t even realize we’re making them. One of the first, easiest steps to flourishing is acknowledging your short comings. When something doesn’t go your way, the feeling of disappointment is natural. Honoring your reaction is an important step to healing. When healing you will get conclusive, it’s a natural human reaction. It’s important to remember when conclusions form, we have the power to identify that these are fake facts and move past them. This helps us move towards more productive outlets that will help us grow as an individual. Growing past these fake facts doesn’t always mean throwing yourself into more work. Self-care is an important part of the healing journey towards becoming the best version of yourself.
2. Commit to Self-Care for the Health of It (Not to Feel Better)
Definitions of self-care have become somewhat mottled today. We often confuse self-care with self-soothing and routine with ritual. Self-soothing is when we attempt to make ourselves feel better by participating in some activity. When we attempt to self-sooth, we try to change our brain chemistry which is rarely accomplished. Self-care is taking care of one’s self. We should not change the mood we’re in. Self-care is doing something that you enjoy because it allows you to relax, not because you need it to relax. When we begin to need certain things to relax, this becomes ritualistic not routine. When self-care becomes ritualistic it controls us. Our happiness is at the mercy of what we decide to need for us to be happy. If we HAVE TO watch Netflix instead of wanting to or NEED to take a nap instead of enjoy taking a nap, then self-care has transcended into self-soothing. If the intention of self-care is to be healthy, there will be a method of self-care that is more moderate and manageable.
3. Do Something of Personal Rightness
Sometimes life straight up falls apart, it happens to everyone. Your world will be spinning, night and day will fade into one another, and stress will be inevitable. Sometimes life isn’t falling apart but today isn’t your best day! You’ve been away from home for a long time, you’re tired, and you need a break. For different reasons people have different amounts of energy they can dedicate to the day. Honor this idea, not everyday has to be your 100%. People who flourish honor their 10% days as much as they honor their 95% days! You are the only person who knows yourself and what you’re capable of. Attempting to push a 10% day to a 50% day can make you drop down to a 5% day. It is important to realize that low percent days do not define you as a person, it’s a definition of what’s happening to you. When life is reeling, I implore you to ask yourself in what capacity can I step into life today and live? How can I enjoy existing today?
I hope these tips and tricks in flourishing help you in your daily life as much as they have helped mine. I encourage you to reach out to Professor Crace seeing as he is the expert and has dedicated his life to helping others enjoy theirs to the fullest. But, until you can do that, I hope this little insight into my journey of attempting to live a life intertwined with mindfulness. I can’t wait to continue to share what I learn on my journey with you all.