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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

How A Quote Changed My Life

“Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

As you’ve probably noticed, I have been feeling a lot more positive (and a lot less depressed) over the past few months.  Part of this change was allowing myself to feel down for a while, but a large part of it is due to that quote above.  I found it in the sample I downloaded from Jenny Blake’s book ‘Life After College’ (which I’m definitely going to be buying soon) and I can honestly say that it has changed my life.

This may sound dramatic but I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating in any way.  Reading that quote gave me the permission I didn’t know I was seeking, to pull myself out of the slump.  The thing with my depression (I can’t speak for anyone else’s) is that I end up in a downward spiral that I can’t find a way out of.  It starts with having a bad day – I don’t feel up to doing anything so I let myself do nothing.  I don’t think this is a bad thing, it’s what happens the next day that causes the problems.

So the next day I might be feeling okay, but I look back over the previous day and see how much time I wasted and how much I didn’t do, so I start feeling guilty.  That guilt usually leads me to feeling very down and so, once again, I don’t do anything.  As the days go on, this repeats itself but every day has extra guilt laid upon it and so down the spiral I go, until I can’t even see hope of getting out.

Just to be clear, guilt of not doing anything isn’t the only emotion that causes my depression, but I would say that it is a large part of it.

Anyway, when I read that quote, the first thing I did was grab a large post-it note, write it down, and stick it on the wall by my ‘desk’ (which is actually just a table where I use my laptop).  I had allowed myself to get caught up in the past, and so had stopped myself from moving forward.  The moment I read the words ‘Finish each day and be done with it’ a great weight was pulled off me and I started remembering how to start each day afresh; with hope and motivation leading me forward instead of guilt and despair pulling me downwards (backwards just doesn’t feel right here as we’re talking about time). 

The quote reminded me that feeling guilty about not doing anything wasn’t going to make the past change, only make the present worse.  And so I started believing in myself again.  I still have bad days of course, and sometimes I let them take over, but when I read those words I know I won’t let one bad day ruin my life.

Has anything like a quote changed your life?  Please share in the comments.


February Grace said...

I'm crazy for quotes and for the life of me can't single one out right now that's changed my life (different quotes mean different things at different times to me, like songs at various stages of life) but I had to say that I love Emerson, I love this quote and I am so glad that you're feeling more up these days.

Thank you for this post.


Magenta said...

Fantastic post, thank you.

Michele Fawcett said...

I started collecting quotes when I was in 7th Grade as part of a project and haven't stopped-this one is beautiful. A quote that I loved was given to me by a friend when she said, "We are Human Beings not Doings" :) Beautiful post thanks for sharing!

Michele Fawcett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Thanks for all the lovely comments.

Bru - I'm the same in finding different quotes mean different things depending on my life at the time I stumble across it.

Magenta - I'm glad you liked it.

Michelle - I love the idea of collecting quotes. I have ones written down in all my different notebooks. I'm sure I've head that quote before, I have a feeling it's from something Roald Dahl wrote, perhaps The BFG? Anyway, it's good to remember that we are beings not doings.

dominique said...

That is a great lesson Tamara to learn. I totally agree that we just have to take the rolls of life as they come and not worry too much about them. I too also find myself being over-critical about what I do or don't do and so I have to make a conscious effort to realize to make an attempt to do what I can and let the rest go.

Besides, I can always move something from my to-do list today to my to-do list tomorrow.

I'm really proud of you Tamara. Great job and great post.