Last year I tried out this idea for a little project. I called it #Flourish40, tried to do too much, and failed. This year, I’m going to try again. The idea is pretty simple, and fundamentally unoriginal: to do things differently for forty days and forty nights. It’s Lent, but as I’m not Christian, I feel weird calling it that. And although I appreciate that the emphasis of Lent, typically, is of abstaining or demonstrating self-control for a period of time, I’m actually more excited about focusing on trying to be a better version of myself for six weeks. Then I can go back to being a bit shitty for the next ten and a bit months, and feel contentedly smug along with it.
Also, six weeks is supposedly a great amount of time to make or break habits. Which is neat. Hashtag yay for behavioural science insights that I proclaim without any actual reference to any actual study.
This year then, I’m thinking of restricting myself to doing three things:
- giving something up that inhibits my flourishing
- doing something new, or more of something old, that boosts it
- taking a different approach to my normal one.
The problem is, I’ve got a lot to choose from. And another problem is that I’m really bad at choosing. And ANOTHER problem is YAWN I am boring MYSELF with my self-improvement load of CACKALACKY.
giving something up that inhibits my flourishing eating chocolate every day eating sugar every day watching House of Cards and True Detective and all other possible box-sets every day saying cackalacky
doing something new, or more of something old, that boosts it seeing friends more keeping track of my receipts so that I don’t have minor panic attacks on a regular basis being more tidy in general—this is more to boost my husband’s flourishing than mine, but we all know that doing things for other people does stuff for us possibly saying cackalacky actually
taking a different approach to my normal one: when making a decision, ask myself “What is the KINDEST way?” in the improv spirit, try to always say “Yes, and…” rather than “Yes, but…” or “No…” actually factor in how much time it will take me to get somewhere, so that I get there on time
I like that whole “new approach” idea. I like all of them. But blah blah BLAH and also all this is cheating. Too many things. I won’t remember them. I’ll fail. I am encroaching on Holier Than Thou territory which is my non-Christian IDEA OF HELL. I don’t want to be that person. I am that person. A little bit. But no. NO. I don’t want to be. Take me away. Away.
I’ve realised over the last few weeks that I’ve been poddling along these three or four years with a lot of support but not much guidance. This is a genuine realisation. I’m done with Striking Out. I want some guidance! I want to raise my game! To feel admiring of someone, awestruck, desperate to impress them. Is this what happens to the irreligious in their thirties, do we all suddenly start yearning for a mortal to idolise?
Well, here it is. And it so happens I’ve come across a fair few extraordinarily brilliant women in the past few months (here’s where I get to name check Dame Mary Marsh and Charmaine Eggberry, and I even got to meet Stella Creasy MP recently too, who was so un-grip-and-grin-y that she nearly almost had me contemplating a career in politics). But, if I set one of THEM as my idols, I’m a bit of a nutter. A creep.
So actually, here is what I’ll do. I’m going to give myself one task for the next 40 days. And I’m going to assign myself one idol. That idol, after much reflection [two minutes], is going to be [DRUM ROLLLLLLL] the awe-inspiring Michelle Obama. Relatable, but far away enough from my league and location for me not to feel like a creep; suitably fallible but also fierce and strong AND funny. Boom.
Whenever I’m stuck on a choice, I’m going to ask myself: What Would Michelle Do?
“Do I buy this Double Decker for the train ride home?”
“NOT buy this Double Decker. Instead, buy a banana. And possibly tell some kids about it.”
I think I can remember that. So here’s to #Flourish40, Take Two. If I can get to being a teenytiny-eth of the greatness that is Michelle O, with less of the wankiness that filled my first #Flourish40 attempt, I will have flourished and then some. Goodbye mediocrity, hello michellety.
I did just write that.
If you’ve got thoughts on how YOU can boost your levels of flourishing over the next forty days, or on whether you think I’ve just hit another personal record low, please post comments below or tweet me (@eugenieee). I’d love to know.