One overarching theme is shifting how I think about things.
With regards to creativity I seek to simplify my outlook and open myself to new ideas, realise that even simple acts can be creative, and reduce the pressure I put upon myself.
That last point is always a tricky one to stick to.
Happiness is a loaded and dangerous word; happiness always requires bigger, better, more! Instead, I am focusing on contentment but that also has its shortcomings. There is a balance to be struck between being happy with where you are and wanting to improve, between getting on versus getting stuck.
It all comes back to the narrative of enough. I'm looking to scale down rather than acquire but, in doing so, hope to gain. It sounds counter-intuitive.
I'm definitely at a point in life where I have to slow down, I just don't have the energy to be on 100% of the time anymore. Time is precious and I have to think about rationing it, using it in ways to best preserve a quality of life as other things wane.
I'm looking to reduce burden, reduce stress, reduce anxiety, and in doing so gain balance, gain a better appreciation for what makes me tick now that I approach half a century, declutter mentally as well as physically.
It's not gaining happiness per se but a sense of satisfaction from knowing I am content with what I have, where I am and what I am doing in a way that allows me to still grow and develop. It's a long and winding road full of twists and turns, confusing double backs and unexpected dead ends. It's a road that appears to have no destination; in truth it doesn't and it's more a case of enjoying the journey rather than seeking an "end" because there isn't one. Indeed, there is a point where one eventually, hopefully, becomes comfortable with traveling along it, settled in mind if not in location.
I know there is a long way ahead of me which can appear daunting but that is no reason to give up, to stop moving along this road and accept things as they are. Quite the opposite. It is motivation to move further, to get away from the restrictions of the present to a freer future - freer in attitude, in responsibility, freer from the cognitive load weighing me down such that I can better be myself once I have rediscovered what that truly means.
It all sounds a bit "new age" and more than reminiscent of a mid-life crisis (who's to say it isn't) but I think it's more a realisation that things have changed and they will and need to change further, need to adapt to the ever altering position I find myself in: a position dictated by mind, body, money, society and the expectations associated with each.
Without wishing to make it sound like I was old, my daughter said to me recently that I was "at that age" where I needed to start thinking about myself, putting my priorities in order rather than staying stuck in the rat race. With that one sentence she probably put it far more eloquently and succinctly than I ever could.
Perhaps my biggest problem with the depression is the notion of self-worth, hence the need to have my word for 2020 as self-compassion. I feel stuck in a rut because I so often feel unable to do anything different, unworthy of better. A lot of it stems from my situation at work but there is also a fast-flowing undercurrent from various things in my life, especially from when I was younger. Despite feeling trapped I'm constantly reminded that I am the most technical person on my team who everyone else comes to with questions. I get strong end of year reviews even if I sometimes just go through the motions. Yet, it doesn't feel good enough despite my employer seeming to disagree. My wife also tells me that I'm good enough, frequently, and that she hates to see me struggle, hates to see me anxious over things that shouldn't affect me, or that I back away from others because that little voice inside says I can't do them. She wants me to listen more to others rather than that voice. Even coming back to something as simple or fundamental as the blog I always want to do more, do better, do this, do that, do! I was flicking through Julian Summerhayes' Patreon page and saw an apology for "the paucity of material" - he just hadn't written anything. There were no excuses merely an acceptance that stuff sometimes gets in the way. He asked if this acceptance makes us lazy or whether that word reinforces the idea of "doing as the only way of being." Doing as the only way of being. Think about it. I've heard that before but it's never affected me in the same way as it did today, never had the same impact. I was taken back to a few days ago, writing about the conflict between "being happy with where you are and wanting to improve." To improve, to progress requires one to do something bigger, better, greater, at least that's how we see it, how it seems in out heads. How do you be more without doing more? This is the trap we constantly find ourselves in: the need to get, gain, acquire. Instead, to be is literally just that: to be. Being better doesn't require more, doesn't require doing, it just just needs us to take a step back and assess, acknowledge, accept. If doing results from being then great, but it doesn't automatically make us better.