I wrote this on February 10, 2016, a day after writing Bad Head Comes and Goes.
What a difference one day makes. Yesterday I was still in my bad head, albeit on my way out. Today, I’m feeling good. I knew my mood had switched as I drove into work. My thoughts were about my work with LGBT equality and questioning whether I was doing enough. My bad head voice would respond “don’t bother, there’s no point in life anyway,” or “your illness makes you ineffective.” But this morning, bad head was nowhere to be found. Instead, the immediate response came from sane head “you already do plenty. You model non-judgmental behavior and challenge others to do the same. That’s your purpose.”
(Ah, thank you sane head. How I do love you. So glad you’ve come to visit. I hope you’ll stay a while.)
What sane head was saying is super special to me. I grew up thinking I had to do something big, and without that, I was left feeling empty. But I don’t have to do something huge to have a purpose, I can simply model my mission statement as a course of existing. I just hope I can hang on to this realization and don’t revert back to the thought that whatever I do is not noble enough, not wide-reaching enough, not significant enough. (That I am simply not enough!)
This is particularly timely as I’m getting ready to publish my first book. I’ve come up with a lot of excuses lately to put off publishing it (i.e., the book isn’t finished, it just needs one more quote, the intro isn’t personal enough, I should get the second book done before publishing the first one — blah blah blah) Ugh! But these excuses are just fog. I’m allowing my fear of not being profitable get in my way. Keeping my mind focused on my purpose (modeling my mission statement) can lower the temperature on all this.
So virtually hold my hand as I walk through this fear of mine through the lens of my mission statement. My mission statement is:
I am to live a life of compassion, generosity, connectedness, education, travel, and humor.
I created this mission statement while I was hospitalized for severe depression in September 2014. It’s continued to serve me ever since. When I consider the fear of my book not being profitable, I ask myself what’s really important. Does it have to be profitable to serve my mission? The answer is no. My self-help book might reach only a handful of people, but if even one person finds it helpful, I’ve served my mission by being compassionate and providing educational information. The act of creating the book, regardless of outcome, was an act of generosity as my intention is to help people. The creation of this book drove me to start this blog, which fosters connectedness. Four out of six values – check!
Having a mission statement is very useful for dealing with depression. It gives me a foundation on which to assess my emotions and behavior. I can focus on my mission statement when all else is failing. Here are some examples:
- When I’m depressed and don’t want to talk to or be with anyone, I think about my mission and focus on my value of connectedness. Even though depression makes it hard to feel connected, I can still bring my mission statement to mind and understand logically that isolating is the opposite of connectedness. This brings me one step closer to making the right choice to not isolate.
- Gossiping is a weakness for me. I don’t typically start rumors, but I’ll find myself in conversations where gossip is occurring and not realize it’s gone too far. I’m no innocent bystander either, getting all up in the gossiping. Although gossiping can encompass my value of connectedness, it’s limited to the gossiping group. It’s certainly not compassionate, generous, nor educational. It may seem humorous at the time, but usually it’s really just nasty. So as the conversation starts I can ask myself “does this serve my mission?” When the answer is no, excuse myself for the bathroom.
- When I’m driving my car and not letting someone in, am I serving my mission? (Nope.)
- Sometimes I find it hard when people stop at my desk at work. I’ll be so engrossed in my work that I have trouble shifting gears. I used to get very annoyed and would let them know it. Now, I think of my mission statement, take a breath, and turn my focus to the person. It’s the compassionate and generous thing to do.
Using a mission statement gives me the ability to live my purpose in little ways. Sometimes depression robs me of the ability to go big. And I don’t have to.
Developing a mission statement is one of the exercises in my book “100 Days of Mindfulness” available soon at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.