photo by: Frontierofficial
After last week’s indecisiveness over what to read, I settled in with something I’ve read before and that isn’t even on my shelf. I first read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project about a year ago, and while what the book discusses isn’t extraordinarily revelatory, the main takeaway of mindfulness towards happiness has stuck with me. Rubin makes resolutions each month, and along the way she also adds to a list of her own personal 12 commandments. Among them are “Act the way I want to feel,” “Spend out,” “Enjoy the process,” and the like. After reading her list and the way her commandments pop into her mind at opportune times, I’ve realized that we all probably have our own unspoken rules—things we know to be true for ourselves (but not necessarily for other people) and our own best approaches to life.
One of my own commandments that has been rattling around in my brain for a while is “Make it for yourself.” Everyone on the internet—myself included—has gotten to the point of discussing the need for more simplicity, less technology, etcetera etcetera. There’s a nostalgia (present in every generation, if we’re honest) for something that feels more… significant. More real. Closer to home. And for me, that’s starting to mean taking more time for projects solely for my own enjoyment.
It’s taken me a while to realize that sometimes, we need to do things solely for our own satisfaction. The idea of documenting life in all its forms has slowly crept up on me, and I love the thought of having notebooks full of observations and accounts of my life, photos recounting both the exciting and the mundane—overall, the way that shining a light on something immediately renders it more special. But why do this? Am I planning to publish these accounts? Share them with the world? Foist them on my nieces and nephews? No. This is something I want to do solely for the pleasure it brings me—whether anyone else is interested is beside the point, which makes it all the more lovely to me.
Make it for yourself is more than that, though. It’s a realization that everything I see that I want in my life, I can get, if I make it for myself. It’s not just about making the art for my apartment, or hand-crocheting every throw blanket on my couch. It’s about realizing the individual power accessible to each of us that makes everything possible. Do I want more adventure, wish I could figure out how to make a latte, need more feelings of freedom, find myself looking at pictures of climbers on the Dawn Wall and wanting so badly to be out in the wilderness? Great—take stock, gather your materials, get a rough plan, and get after it. Make it for yourself. If you want it, you can have it.
I’m so intrigued by these personal commandments and am ever on the lookout for my own to reveal themselves. Do you have unspoken commandments that keep your life on the rails?