Some time ago, when I was in real darkness fighting my depression, I could spend long periods of time just doing absolutely nothing throughout an entire day. Those who are not familiar with the symptoms of this illness might not understand what does that mean. The explanation is straightforward – understand that sentence literally. Sometimes not a single thing apart from going to the bathroom because it’s needed.
The problem is for depressed people that not doing anything makes them feel guilty. They know that doing nothing is terrible, however, they get stuck in a vicious circle of not doing anything they want/need and that makes them feel even more depressed. Depression is a complex illness which includes very low self-acceptance; thus, when I say depressed, it refers to one of many aspects of it. In this sentence, it meant that a person after a day that they did not succeed in completing anything they had in mind, sets them in a self-bullying mode.
However, when trying to help myself to get out of that vicious circle, I decided to apply one thing a day technique.
First, let’s say take a shower. That is an action. Tomorrow you will be able to make a shower again and then eat something. The next day another important step will happen. Soon you might not even realise that ‘one thing a day’ rule has changed to the criterium into making it count if you’ve done something productive that day. That depends on your interests and whims, stimulus and wishes. That is a step closer into filling your day with many things, avoiding useless staring at Facebook or watching something ‘light’, or playing a never-ending game, whatever you of those toxic activities choose to do. Now you start replacing them with something that inspires you, gives you strength and a push and energy, makes your life exciting to live.
One step turns into two, those become three and four and five, and soon it’s already a meter towards something you dream of. Especially if that dream is combined with a determination to get better. Once you give yourself an acknowledgement that you did something important, no matter what that thing could be, you will feel a little tiny happy emotion. It continuously grows, one of your foot size at a time, which creates a kilometre and later two, a drop of happiness into a shower rain.
So, one thing a day. What is important here is not to forget to give yourself credit for what you did. Not achieved but did! No matter what that was, you gave yourself an impulse to stay in that action for some time. It’s okay, keep on doing those actions that brought you up to this and make sure to fill in the gaps with some other new activities. That’s what makes us keep on moving, keep on being where we are and what we are. Our goal is to make the best of every single day we have. Just have some fun, do some good, and avoid hurting others, especially yourself.
Live by what Seneka and Stoics were teaching people quite a while ago. Do one thing a day, take care of yourself and enjoy being. Don’t wonder what happens next too much, instead be excited about what is happening. In the end, you are the one who is going to be accountable for how you spent your life with what was given to you. So spent it wisely. Because you are the one who judges.
We can improve One thing a day challenge by including an objective to learn a new thing a day. That’s how you would progress, let’s say with a language, with your interests, skills, etc. You can go for one spiritual action a day, counting a meditation, yoga practice, thematical readings or videos (replace that with religious practice if that’s your thing). It can work for physical wellness by increasing the target a little bit. It can be A one good deed a day. Making one person smile a day. Learning about our planet and adjusting our actions and believes to global needs in order to maintain what was given to us. The list can be long, and you are the one making it.
What matters here is to start doing it. Don’t beat yourself up if one day you didn’t succeed. Start the next by thinking: today I am re-applying One thing a day system, today is not yesterday, but today I choose to do this. And every day, before sleep remind yourself about that, say ‘good job, buddy’! Then calmly go to sleep knowing that in comparison to yesterday things have changed a little bit. Rather it’s a new French word or a smile you put on somebody’s face.
One thing a day keeps a problem away! Like apples.