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Take Time To Remember the Good Stuff
By M. Alouette
Maybe you already keep a diary, but do you keep a success journal? A diary is where you pour your heart out; a success journal is where you limit yourself to reviewing recent successes. You can do this however you wish: Jot down notes or write nice, long paragraphs. What you count as a success moment or event is also up to you, but consider taking an expansive approach. Capitalism urges us to focus on financial success, but success has many forms. Your success could be calling your grandmother to catch up after a while. Success might mean taking a bath and reading on a Friday night instead of going out. Success could mean getting your book of poetry accepted for publication by your favorite small press. Your definition of success should be yours alone.
It's not arrogant or vain to sit down and journal about your successes—as long as you also take time to reflect upon your flaws and also come up with action plans for improvement. Just don't dwell on the latter. That is not what the success journal is for (unless having a lightbulb moment about one of your character flaws is what you needed.) Capitalism loves to make us feel like failures enough as it is. After all, how many times have you heard the phrase "rat race" said like it's a good thing? Only a very small category of people match the top-tier definition of the American Dream. They're the "1%" and most of them were born with extreme privilege or did some nasty things to get up there. How can people like that live in the same country where others die from lack of basic healthcare? To echo Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, we shouldn't have billionaires; it's immoral.
You're not less of a human for earning a working-class or middle class salary. You're not less of a human for not owning a house or a car. You're not less of a human for battling large amounts of student or medical debt. Are you doing your best to take care of yourself and your loved ones? Are you doing your best to give back to society and make the world a better place? Good. Then stop giving yourself such a hard time. It doesn't matter if you don't have photos of a Bermuda vacation to post to Instagram. You're still worthy of life, joy, comfort, and love. We can always do "better," but we shouldn't overwork and over-extend ourselves, either. Take on what you can, no more than that, at least not for the long-term. It's not healthy or sustainable.
When you keep a success journal, you're reminding yourself of all the small, beautiful achievements society might not recognize. A lack of recognition is not the same as a lack of importance. Our society has a lot of messed-up priorities. Our society recognizes athletes with multi-million dollar contracts while spitting on school teachers working two or even three jobs to make rent and pay for their own classroom supplies. Reflect on what success means to you. It should involve thriving, not merely coping. If your definition detracts from mainstream society's, you're not evil or lazy. You're a thinker and thinkers evaluate their choices. The choices you make shape the life you live.
Sometimes writing in your regular diary becomes too dark. You find yourself reliving past traumas or repeating conversations you don't need to repeat. Turning to a success journal can give you a necessary break. When Capitalism says you should get back on the assembly line, don't do it, not just yet. Relax. And write. Remember—you noticed a butterfly on your window yesterday.
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