Monday, February 20, 2012

Educating Ourselves to Be Happy

I read too many blogs sometimes. I'm forever seeking advice to live by and spread to others as I deem it worthy. Sometimes that takes me to sites about educating children. Not that my readers are childish, but we are all students of writing, for as long as we live, and sometimes what's great advice for our progeny is applicable to us. We've just forgotten to open our minds as wide as we once did as kids.

Zen Habits is a simple blog about living simply. This particular post, entitled 9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn, resonated with me. Yes, I thought as I read the first skill. Then yes, oh yes, definitely yes. The author states that we should prepare our children for an unpredictable future. They should be able to adapt when corporations, government or the guy next door whips the rug out from under them.

In today's publishing world, change happens daily, and major change almost weekly. If someone isn't suing someone, they are amending the method of payment, acceptance, format or rights. Let's take the skills of training savvy children and apply some of them to us.

1. 2. and 3. Ask questions, solve problems, and tackle projects. Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do. Ask how, when, why, where, whatever. Don't understand how to self-publish? Look for the answers. Not sure whether to seek an agent? Dig for answers. Instead of saying "I don't know," decide you'll figure it out. So many writers freeze, become stagnant at the thought of maintaining a blog, Tweeting, or using Track Changes for edits. Don't know how to do it? Learn. Set up each obstacle as a project. Ask questions, study resources, and address the issue.

4. Finding passion. When you adore what you do, you weather challenges (like self-promotion) more easily. Overcoming an obstacle places you one step closer to a goal. Don't stand there looking at the hurdle, hating the thought of climbing it. Instead, be excited that you're in this game to win. Ever seen a kid with a quest-type video game? He tackles whatever is thrown in front of him, earning points as he goes.

5. Independence. Ever read posts by writers who wring their hands at the woes of publishing? What if's drive them crazy. Frankly, you can write no matter what's happening in the industry. Because whenever you complete the project, you'll have publishing options. You may have to ask questions and solve a new problem, but because you have passion, you'll solve your publishing dilemma.

6. Being happy on their own. You don't have to belong to a big publishing house. You don't have to self-publish to keep your writing group from being jealous of you. While a tribe is nice, and your mentors held your hand as you learned, you have the means to be a happy camper while pursuing your dream. Happiness is a choice. Be comfortable in yourself.

7. and 8. Compassion and Tolerance. Be empathetic, not condescending. Be tolerant of differences. Focus on your writing goals instead of pointing out flaws in the goals of others. It's such wasted energy to debase how others choose to write, choose to publish, or choose to promote. Hush and let people be different.

9. Dealing with Change. Frankly, if we master 1. through 8., we accomplish 9.

Confidence in ourselves, our choices, and our ability to dip, dive and adapt when life throws curves makes for a sparkling, superbly satisfying life. As writers facing a  barrage of rejection and complicated changes in an industry that seems to stand on crumbling ground, we have the most control over how we deal with it all. We can enjoy writing, no matter what happens along the way.


Remember, this blog will not be around long. Please come follow Hope at at her blog's new home.


Gabi Coatsworth said...

Thanks for reminding me about Zen Habits. I love Leo Babauta's take on thing. He always has something useful to say.

Diva Jefferson said...

Hope, I am so glad you mention this and I am proud to be compared to children. They are so full of hope and life...creativity in all things...that we should look to them for inspiration on our own ideas. Studying history, and its religion, I found a lecture a while ago done by a renowned Buddhist named Hartman called "A Beginner's Mind" based on a book.

It's a great read. I think you'd like it. Like children, we should all look at our lives without preconceptions and expectations, judgments and prejudices.

-Diva J.