There is no denying that our happiness affects our mental health. However I do not think that being happy implies being mentally healthy. And I do not think that someone with a mental illness cannot be happy.
I think the issue is a misconception on happiness itself. There exists the idea that happiness is given to individuals. And we judge whether or not someone is happy by his material possessions and the relationship the person has. Or how intelligent the person is. But that is not enough. Things and knowledge on their own do not make happy.
So what does? Taking responsibility for our own happiness. Happiness is not given. It is worked for. We need to find out what we want. And then realize that a lot of the things that we want… we already have. And we learn to take a break and appreciate that.
Being happy does not mean we are never sad anymore. It does not mean we do not get triggered anymore. The urges don’t just go away magically. We even may still have to go see a therapist.
I think the key to being happy despite a mental illness is to be able to distinguish emotions from rationality. Sometimes we get hurt for no obvious reason. A trigger. A friend who said something that hurt us. But we keep wondering why we suddenly feel so bad. In those cases it is crucial to allow the emotions. To allow ourselves to feel the emotions but to acknowledge that there is no reason for them. Which does not mean invalidating them. It just means that we know that even though we feel bad, on a rational basis those feelings do not mean that we have a bad life or are genuinely unhappy.
This takes practice. And it requires one crucial mindset: The mindset of being the one’s in charge for our happiness. Because to be able to see what we just feel and what is actual truth, we have to be willing to look at our reactions more closely. We have to be willing to sometimes not have an explanation. But isn’t thinking: “I am just tired, that’s why I am so sad.” or “I feel bad and there is no real reason for it.” better than thinking: “Everyone around me hates me.”? One is accepting our own weakness. The other is blaming everyone around us for our own misery. One is taking responsibility and allowing ourselves, to be who we really are. The other is being unjust to other people by blaming them for something they had (possibly) no doing in. One comes from a gentle and kind mindset. From the kind of mindset that allows us to love yourselves, the other comes from a cold, negative and angry place.
I am not one for lying. I don’t say we should always just blame our own weakness, or the weather for when we feel bad. Sometimes there are reasons. But as someone who tends to mask pain with anger, I know I am likely to try to search for someone to blame and bend the truth to my will.
But that is toxic. It has the power to destroy relationships. And it puts more negativity into the world. Which is why I think we need to learn to be okay with us not being alright. And realize that it does not generally mean, we are unhappy. Not unless we have the mindset that makes us think we are unhappy. And it is our responsibility to adopt the mindset that will let us heal and make us happy. For me that is positivity and gratitude.
I stumbled upon this in a video and I think it is something many people can benefit from. Because it is not only about getting better, is about getting motivated. And we all have times where we do not feel motivated and a source of motivation of positivity can be so helpful in those situations.
A Recovery Journal the way I was introduced to is a place that is entirely positive and contains two parts:
A section for quotes
A section for reasons to recover
The first one is just a collection of quotes that speak to our hearts. Quotes that touch us. Move us. Motivate us.
The second is broader than just “quotes”. When we think about it, there are a ton of reasons to recover:
We want to own a pet
We want to publish a book
We want to graduate
We want to marry
We want to eat our favorite cake
We want to see a close friend again
We want to own a fancy dress
Anything can go on that list, as long as it is positive. It reminds me a little of a positive bucket-list, that contains everything we want to do and become, the little things and the big things. There is no limit as long as it is positive.
I personally added a Gratitude Section. This is not a substitute for a Gratitude Log but it is a place to write down all the great things in our lives that we are grateful for. Things like:
Another thing that might be helpful to keep in a Recovery Journal is a list of triggers. And what helps avoiding them or dealing with them. Yes, the Recovery Journal is supposed to be a place of positivity. But there are two reasons for such a list: The first is that we cannot fight something that we cannot name. And knowing what triggers us is therefore crucial. And the other point simply is: this page can show us, how often we actually managed to get out of a triggering situation, or deal with a trigger. Therefore I think it has the right for a page in the Journal.
But what do we do next? What do we do, when we have a few quotes and reasons to recover, identified and put down a few triggers?
We keep going. We come back to these lists and read them, when we are not so well, we keep those lists growing, whenever we see the opportunity. Whenever we see a good quote, we write it down. Whenever someone tells us, what helps them, and we want to try that to deal with a trigger, we write it down and see if it helps. Whenever we think of a new thing we want to do, we write it down.
And as for all of these things writing it down on actual paper makes a lot of sense, because what we have written down we remember better. I like to keep my Recovery Journal in my Book of Lists, to always have it on me. But you could totally have a designated journal for it or just use sheets of paper and file them. You can go crazy and decorate it, if you feel like it, or you can keep it to the bare minimum. Your choice. Just remember that it should never be a source of pressure. You should like to go back to your journal and read through those lists and remember the good things.
I think the Recovery Journal is a step in the right direction, because it helps having a more positive mindset. And maintaining one, is an act of the will showing that we want to get better, even if we struggle to feel like that in our everyday lives.
When we slide into depression or simply feel like we have a depressed mood there is one thing that can happen so easily. We become toxic. We start dragging everyone around us down with us. Because we share our misery. And sometimes we need to be allowed to feel as sad as we want to. And it is so important that we are not alone in those hours. Because when we are it is when we get the worst ideas.
But while sharing our negative thoughts can be necessary we also know of the negative impact those thoughts can have on the people around us. We do know that our suffering becomes the pain of the people we love. We become toxic. And we are caught in a dilemma. On one hand we need nothing more than company and someone being there, comforting us. But on the other hand we know that we will share our negativity. So locking ourselves up in our rooms is wrong because it will prevent us from getting better and seeking company will make the toxins spread.
The next issue is, that we know how toxic we are. We know that we are not fun to be around. We know we are putting a damper on the mood, wherever we go. And we hate it. We hate being sad. It is not like we choose to be sad. We do not want to hurt those we love. This is why being negative around people we love will make us even more negative. Because we hate ourselves for hurting the people close to us.
Some may say: “Trust the people around you, to be able to protect themselves.” And I am a huge advocate of this. But at the same time: What if they protect themselves from us and we loose them forever just because we had a depressive phase? What if we do a lot of damage, before the other person notices that he/she needs to protect him-/herself?
So how can we interact with people? How can we talk about the things that really go on in our heads? How can we know if someone is strong enough to handle it? Honestly I do not know if we can ever be sure. And I think the best way is to work on getting rid of the negativity. I know this is so much easier to write, than to do. But for a first step I think we should all try to share our happiness and our positivity at least as much as we share our sadness. And the other really good step is to get away from ourselves. To ask people about how they are. To practice caring about how other people feel. Even if it is just to get ourselves away from the misery we experience.
And this way we can seek comfort with other people if we are not at our best, because we aren’t always negative. And we are not the only thing we care about. The question really is: Whether or not our bad moods will ruin a relationship. And the simple answer is: Only if the sadness is what defines the relationship. And it is the very same with us in general. Negativity is a normal part of life. No one can be happy non-stop. Negativity will only ruin us, if it defines us. We are only toxic to others, when we are nothing but sad.
The term minimalism has been thrown around the internet a lot. But why? Why does everyone suddenly want to de-clutter and have tidy spaces. Why are Instagram and Pinterest filled with the most beautiful pictures of homes? And why do people look at these picture envying the people living in the spaces depicted?
The movement seems to come from the notion that people who have less can be perfectly happy and that therefore it is not stuff, that makes happy. I think in fact it is our relationship and our approach to things that can contribute to our happiness. And this is exactly the point that makes minimalism a top for this blog, where I constantly stress the importance of a positive mindset. A positive approach to life, to the universe and… to everything, really. So let’s explore how minimalism can help finding the right approach to our possessions.
Everyone who has jumped into minimalism will have come across Marie Kondo’s “The Life changing Magic of tidying up”. It is basically a book on how to de-clutter and finding everything you keep a new home. And this thought I found so very inspiring. She talks about possessions almost as if they were conscious beings. If she discards something she thanks the item for its services. And I find that this gratitude is very helpful. Not only in discarding things but also in our everyday approach to items. But in order to be able to be grateful for something we need to not value our possessions in the first place and this is where minimalism strikes.
What items do we need? Marie Kondo’s hero-question is: “Does this spark joy?” And sure, there are things that do not in particular spark joy, but thinking about it, those items do make our lives a lot easier. For me the first thing that would come to mind are tissues. But usually “Does it spark joy?” Will help to discard many things, that we keep because we feel obliged to and yet, we never use them and we feel guilty about that and as time goes by we feel more and more guilt and we start trying to avoid those things.
But it is not only the things that make us feel bad about ourselves, that we need to let go. The things that we do not care about as well. If we have a shirt that we love and one that we feel “Meh” about, we will always reach for the one we love. So letting go is the right choice. Why though? Why let things go that we don’t care whether or not we have them? Because the more things we love we have around us, the more we can appreciate what we own. And the more things that are Meh and surround us, the more we feel Meh.
We do not need things that make us feel Meh. Because Meh is just another word for “kinda empty” and the latter is definitely an issue when it comes to dealing with tension and self-harm. That we do not need things that make us feel bad is obvious.
But what if I do not need 9 white T-Shirts, but I love every one of the ones I own? Do I have to toss them if I want to be a minimalist? Certainly not. It is not about having only a few things. It is about having only the things we really want to have. And this will contribute to our happiness. Minimalism should never be a source of guilt. Never. If we like pens and like to have hundreds of them in pretty containers and display them somewhere. Sure. We should do that. But we should always have a designated home for anything we own. Because that is the first step to expressing gratitude and if we cannot find a home for the item, how much do we really love it? We shall never just stuff things away, because chances are that we don’t need those things.
This way we will be happier with less possessions. Not because we value having only a few things. But because we value the things that we own. Because eliminating the things we do not like will give us the mental space to appreciate what we own. We can have a completely positive mindset towards our possessions, because we love everything we own. Everything brings us joy. And thinking about it… even if we discard half of what we own we still will be surrounded by so many things. So many things we love. And this means, we can go through life more positive. Which is exactly what we want.
The concept of having less and valuing it more can be applied to anything. It can be applied to every action. It is about being mindful. Doing one thing and giving it purpose rather than doing a hundred things but not caring for one of them. And not only will we be happier as an individual but also as a social being. Because if we meet a friend that’s all we do. Meet a friend. If we work we are more productive, because we are not doing five things at the same time. It will take pace and stress and pressure out of our daily lives and therefore leave us happier.
And again with caring for the few things we do more than for the hundreds of things we can be more grateful. With the few things we own we can be grateful for every single one of them. And eventually this fills us with peace. Having a few meaningful things in our lives, rather than just having stuff around us, that we don’t know what to think about.
“Eating is an absolute waste of time. Keep studying!” and “If you take a break now, you will never get back to work!” are just two of the sentences the little voice in my head screamed at me last Thursday. When we try to work. When we try to pour our heart and soul into something, when we try to be good at something, it can easily happen, that we want to make ourselves spend more time with whatever that is at the moment. Because we have a goal that we want to achieve no matter what. This drive is incredible. It can make us become great people. There is just one problem. It is absolutely out of balance.
Also on Thursday I caught myself being irritated constantly. Being mad and impatient. I was swearing and screaming because I go frustrated, because it felt like nothing was working the way I wanted it to. The printer did not print. And I had failed to finish what I had planned the days before. I just hated everything. Then I realized one thing: It had been weeks since I last worked out. My body was totally out of balance. I had been challenging my mind to be disciplined and study, but at the same time I had failed to challenge my body. And this was when I got grumpy.
We may not all need exercise. But balance we all need. Because, eating and sleeping and taking breaks are not just a necessary evil, that we do in order to keep functioning. This is what I tell the little voice in my head. But what we really need is fulfillment. That is what will keep us going. If we do only one thing for days and only eat and sleep because we have to, we run the danger of depending on that one thing to fulfill us. Which can easily become an issue when that one thing starts getting on our nerves for some reason.
That is why we need hobbies and friends and work and family. And all these categories have the right to exist. And all of them have the potential to fulfill us. Sure, we do not want to choose friends that we do not actually like, but we should not rely on our friends to make us happy. Or our family, our jobs or hobbies. They all are wonderful and to lead a happy life, all of these need to be more or less intact. But we cannot depend on one or another. Because that will most likely make us neglect the others and thereby make us unhappy in the long run.
Especially recreational things like taking breaks, eating and sleeping should not be things we think of as necessities. We should be able to draw energy from them. We can actively help doing that, by creating little rituals around going to sleep for example. Or having a designated spot, where we read when we are on a break. Whatever it is, we need to convince ourselves, that we deserve those breaks. And we can be grateful for them and for deserving them, rather than hating on them. We need to believe that it is alright to not study 10 hours a day. Yes, maybe we feel like we might fail the next exams if we stop studying, but if we cannot take a break and recharge, there will be no efficient studying and then we will definitely fail.
We can take this even a step further. Which is typical for people with a positive mindset. We have to go to a doctor or dentist for a regular checkup. Most people would get annoyed by it. Consider it a waste of time. But very few see it as an opportunity. We can talk to our doctor about any concerns we might have and if we don’t we had a checkup and we know for a fact that we are fine. Not to mention the fact that we get out of the places we are on a regular basis. Maybe we can walk there and enjoy the sunshine. Or maybe we just enjoy the time to ourselves. The very same thing goes for running errands and doing groceries.
So to sum it up: there are things we need to do and we need to balance the different parts of our lives, to be able to draw energy from them. But while we are at it, we might as well think about how we can make the the small and absolutely necessary things in our lives matter. This is actively employing a positive mindset and will fulfill us and make us happy.
It has been a few months since I got hocked on to The Good Place. In just a few months it turned into my absolute favorite show. It is about a self-centered woman who accidentally ends up in the good place which is pretty much heaven. In order to not be sent to the bad place she tries to become a better person and earn her place in the good place.
This in itself sounds like a perfectly enjoyable piece of television, but this is not the reason I write about it on this blog. The show made an actual impact on me. Not only was able to laugh from the bottom of my heart, but I became more positive. Because all those bright pictures and all that happiness that is constantly shown in the series made me happier. In addition to that it discusses several philosophical concepts which allowed me to straighten my view of the world a little more.
But it was when I listened to The Good Place -The Podcast- that I suddenly realized one thing: All these amazing people who work on The Good Place have one thing in common: They radiate appreciation and happiness. The producers, cast members, directors, writer, everyone is aware of what an outstanding piece of art they are creating and they are grateful to be part of it. One of them once said in awe : “This is our job!” Meaning they can almost not believe, that their life is so perfect.
I find this so very inspiring. It means that working towards a wonderful life is not in vain, but it also means that appreciating one’s life the way it is, is possible and a great source of happiness. And here’s another thought: If we hate on what we are doing on a daily basis, we will never become great at what we do, because we keep avoiding it.
There is one other thing: The shows we watch and the people we surround ourselves with have an impact on us. If we watch dark movies all the time, we might get nightmares (has happened to me before) but if we watch happy TV shows, we will be a little happier in our own lives as well. And surrounding us with happy people, or just spending some time listening to happy people talk, can inspire us to be happy. It makes it easier to be positive day after day. And being positive does not only affect us. As I said before: positive people have an awesome effect on their surroundings. And if we are positive, we can make our friends and families a little happier.
That is why I think trying to be happy, surrounding us with happy shows, music etc. is worth it. It makes us and those we love happier.
thing: We all strive for happiness. But I think the term “happiness” is
overused and therefore without meaning. So let’s have a closer look. I have
found there are three kinds of happiness:
Momentary emotional happiness:
Long term emotional happiness: base
Excitement is the kind of happiness where someone is jumping up and down in joy, because the happiness cannot be contained. This kind we experience, when we for example see something pretty, or when we get a phone, or dress. It is the kind of happiness, that lasts for minutes, hours and in rare cases for a day or two. And it needs a trigger.
happiness is way less outgoing. It is a state where a human being is content
and no matter what happens in one’s daily life, we trust, that it will be
alright. And while of course, we get mad or sad from time to time, we still
have that underlying happiness and peace to keep us from letting the negative
emotions get to us. It is however an emotion, because we feel happy at the core, even if we are going through a though
happiness is tricky: This is when we do not feel happy. We may even feel sad,
but we know that we have no reason to feel that way because our life is more or
less very good. It is when we keep telling ourselves, that we are fine. When we
try to feel better, because we cannot see the reason for not being happy.
How do these affect our mental health and how can they be utilized?
Excitement is, what we get, if we are depending on someone or something for our happiness, this is why depending is an issue. Excitement can keep us from becoming base level happy. While it really only makes us momentarily happy. And that’s how we develop addictions. We feel happy for a bit, then it goes away and whatever it is that made us happy: we need it again. That can be drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex and watching TV or even things that we would not typically be viewed as potentially addictive like studying or reading or playing with a pet.
The problem with excitement really is the dependence, which again only occurs, if we are not happy on a base level. Let me explain: There is nothing wrong with having a glass of wine to loosen up once in a while. But we have a problem if we do not feel comfortable when we are sober anymore. This also ties in with my latest post about relationships: of course we get excited about our relationships. And of course we experience happiness beyond description. It is natural and great as long as we do not depend on that to make us happy. Because excitement is not base level happiness, which is really what makes us happy in the long run.
Rational happiness is what many of us have. We nourish it by practicing gratitude and by focusing our mind on the good things in life. It is what we can experience even when we are at our lowest emotional state. This can lead to frustration. Because we feel bad, but we know we should be fine. And we start faking. We start hating ourselves, for feeling down for no reason. It can also lead to us questioning if we are actually bad or if we make ourselves miserable.
On the bright side however rational happiness can help us tab into base level happiness. Because we can actively tell ourselves that our lives are good. And if we tell ourselves often enough at some point we will believe it. Of course we need experience to back this up, but in essence that is how it works.
And finally there is base level happiness. And I have hinted at it a lot: it is what we want to achieve. Because the others are either not emotional or they are to momentary. Both of them can help to achieve it. Because with excitement we can experience why we are happy. And rational happiness helps us to preserve that excitement. Helps us see, why we are actually happy. So in essence base level happiness is what we get when we combine excitement (pure emotion) with rational happiness (pure rationality). But there is another aspect to it: and this is the longevity of base level happiness. And this is what ties happiness to positivity and awareness: We experience the calm of this happiness, because we stopped searching for happiness outside our lives. We stopped thinking: “Once I do this or that life will be better.” or “Once I get this or that, everything will be easier.” and instead started loving what we are doing on a daily basis.
To start doing that rational happiness can help. It helps to identify the nice things. And then we can start feeling that happiness. When we go to bed, we can look forward to getting up because we can go do our jobs. Whatever that may be. At this point there is one important realization: We are not getting up, for our alarm clocks. We are getting up, because we chose to. Because there is a day awaiting us. And it will be an awesome day. And sure, there will be moments, when we wish we could just walk away, but isn’t there a reason, we are not walking away? Are we not sitting through that meeting to get ideas on how to improve? Are we not trying to understand that mathematical formula to be able to solve problems later on? And are those goals not what we genuinely want?
This is the beauty of base level happiness. It allows us to be happy with our life for the sake of our lives. It makes us independent and self-confident. And it gets us through the rough patches, because it is not only the exciting things in our lives, that we love, but also the constants: the things we do on a daily basis. And even if these things fork (Good Place equivalent for f*ck) us up hard, we trust that it will be alright. Because when it comes down to it, we chose them for a good reason. In my experience this makes life so calm. We stop thinking about what others think of us, because we are content. The fear just goes away. And deep down we know that when it comes down to it everything is just fine. We stop hating ourselves, because we are living the life we want to live.
How the heck do we achieve base-level happiness?
Create a vision of yourself. A vision of our lives. I elaborated on this in a previous post. When we start doing what we want to do, which is exactly what happens when we start working towards our vision, we can love what we are doing, even when it’s hard from time to time. And the other point is to enhance the other two kinds of happiness. For example: get a hobby that we love doing and gets us feeling good. And of course, enhancing rational happiness by trying to make our mindsets more positive.
Noticing how independent we actually are, because at any point in our lives we have the possibility to just walk away. This means, we do have the power. Even if we are fighting some sort of mental illness, we can still walk away. We can still choose what our life looks like, which is really all we could ask for isn’t it?
I am not going to deny that I am a huge fan of the TV show The Good Place. This show makes me laugh out loudly and at the same time makes me think about right and wrong. It allows me to remember my own moral compass, which I find outspokenly reassuring.
One of the actresses of the show Jameela Jamil has started a motion where women think about what it is that makes so amazing. So today on the bus I figured I might write my own little list. I ended up writing down two main points and a couple of points that specify those.
I am aware that this is not something we are always capable of doing. But I think writing it down (again preferably on paper, just like the gratitude log) helps to radiate positivity. To remember why we want to keep fighting. To remember that we are too precious to hurt ourselves. Remember that we are worth being protected.
This again is just one tiny step towards positivity, towards a positive mindset. It helps us to get motivated to recover. Helps us, to become better versions of ourselves, because it helps us to focus on the things that are great about us and it helps us making those things even better.
Again: and I feel like I cannot repeat this often enough: We cannot always force ourselves to be positive. And that is alright. There are so many instances were people around me try to lift me up and I just wish for them to stop and let me cry and be my miserable self. But I also think that it is important, to be positive, if we can. And to remember, that positivity is a thing. And it is an important thing. Not to be forced, but to be celebrated, when we get the chance.
I keep talking about positivity. And a friend of mine recently asked me, how on earth one simply “acquires” the mindset of positivity. How do you simply “choose” to be positive. Chances are I will keep spiraling back to this, because the way I see it, this is key to becoming happy (really who could have guessed that?).
I am trying to elaborate on actionable steps to have a more positive mindset, to remind oneself of the good things on a regular basis. The first thing that comes to my mind here is a gratitude journal or a gratitude log. In essence we write one line starting with “I am grateful for…” at the end of every day. This may be in a designated journal or in your calendar. I would recommend actually writing it down on paper, rather than typing it in some form. Because what we actually wrote down we remember better.
But why would we do this? Where is the benefit? Why being grateful? Well… because this is exactly how we can actually switch into more positive thinking. Because when we are grateful, when we take the time to think about what was good in on that day, we start thinking “This is something I can write in my gratititude log” tonight. And that is the point, where we start remembering the good things in our daily lives.
But what if the world around us is too dark for us to see the positive. What if we cannot find something we want to be grateful for? I find that this can have two causes: Either we cannot see the good things, or we think we can only be grateful for the mindblowing things. And that is an issue. Why not be grateful for the little things? Those little things, that make our lives better, day after day. I once wrote into my diary: “I am grateful for my Google Calendar.” No kidding. The other reason is a bit trickier. Not bein able to see the good things has a lot to do with not wanting to see them. Which is a whole other issue that I have not found a solution to yet.
I got lucky enough to know that my fear had a deadline. To know that at some point I would have an answer. And I got lucky enough to get the answer I had been hoping for and not the answer I had been so afraid of.
But now what? When we are lucky enough to get the chance to leave our fear behind. What do we do next? When our entire life had been evolving around that fear. (It does not have to be fear. It can really be anything you have been evolving around and now stopped.) How can we move on?
I think there are two crucial parts: One is looking back and figuring out what went wrong. And what went well. This is important, but I think it is quite self-explanatory. It allows us to deal with the emotions and not bury them inside us. But we do not want to live in the past. We shall not be devoured by regret. (In fact this could be the topic for a whole separate blog post.)
The other part is looking into the future. And sometimes, when we have been so caught up in something we need to actively create a vision of ourselves. But why would that be helpful? A vision allows us to measure our actions by. If something makes us more like the person we are in that vision, it is a productive action. But why do we need that?
Because we need a direction. Until this point we have been evolving around whatever it is we are leaving behind. Now it is time to evolve around something positive. Around the person we want to be. In my vision I never say: “I am not a self-harmer.” I say things like: “I am a strong, independent woman.” Such a positive vision, a vision of what we want to be rather than what we do not want to be, is very powerful, because it motivates us to go on. And it gives us somewhere to go. Somewhere we want to go. And every time we are able to take a step towards our vision, we will be able to love ourselves a bit more. Because we did something that made us better.
In the self-harm and self-hate context this is so important. Because we tend to be trapped in all that negativity. And I know I could not even have written this post last week. I think us hating ourselves… as sad as it is: It is part of who we are. And yes, we do have to fight it. But we cannot fight negativity with more negativity. We cannot fight the fact that we hate ourselves, by hating that we hate. That’s… recursive. So instead we need to find something about us, that we can love. And that is why we need a vision: because we want to be like the vision. And every time we get a little closer to who we want to be, we are allowed to be proud of ourselves. Love ourselves a bit more. Trust ourselves a bit more. Experience that we are actually not as much of a failure as we always like to make ourselves believe. And that I call taking control of our lives. Actively fueling our self-confidence instead of letting negativity destroy us.
But how can we create a vision? What inspires such a vision? There are many sources for that: People we admire. Ideologies. Quotes. And more mundane: Books, movies, series, music, pictures. I usually work with 4 categories:
Me and university
Me and my hobbies
Me and myself
Me and others
In each of these categories I determine what is important to me. I write it down and that is how my vision is born. Then I take one or two points in each category and figure out a way to actively improve that point. I make a plan. And most importantly: I try to ask myself on a regular basis: “Is this how the person in my vision would act?” or “Is this bringing me closer to the person I want to be?”. This is not entirely about accounting for the progress we make in becoming the vision, it is mostly about remembering that positive vision. Getting into the mindset of that vision. Because we can so easily forget, what we want to fight for. So reminding ourselves of it is always a good idea.