All of us go through moments of feeling disconnected, through times when we feel we have lost our purpose, when we worry too much about the future, while still being haunted by our past. I have discovered “Notes to Myself” in exactly such a period in my life, when I felt overwhelmed by too many thoughts and worries. It has been the perfect medicine for my struggles, not because it provided a solution, but because I could recognize myself in the worries, thoughts and reflections of the author. Sometimes it’s not about learning something completely new or experience an eureka moment. After all, everything I have read I knew already myself. It was more about feeling understood and experiencing that I was not alone, that everyone goes through the same worries and struggle at times.
I have always underestimated reflection, but we need to write down what we experience to make sense of it later on. While I still contemplate on my own “notes”, Hugh Prather’s inquiry into himself reveals reflections that probably all of us think of when pursuing personal exploration.
So here are 21 inspiring Notes to myself, 21 thoughtful reminders on understanding and connecting with the self.
On living in the Now:
1. Trouble is in analyzing life instead of living it. Thinking is a defence mechanism, a way of avoiding some insight, a way of not looking at a situation.
2. Anxiety doesn’t come from thinking about the future, but from the wanting to control it.
3. Happiness is a present attitude not a future condition.
4. The key to motivation is look at how far you’ve come, not at how far you have to go.
5. When you become conscious of the unpredictability of the future, it is impossible to be discontent.
6. You are where you need to be, doing what you need to be doing.
7. Fears are not based on the present, but on the past and I don’t have to be governed by what went wrong.
8. When you are tired of thoughts adopt a quiet awareness, a listening attitude to fresh up the mind.
9. Become aware of the flow of feelings inside you. Bring all of you in the present: words are distracting when you have to respond to the present.
10. There are no absolutes for something so relative as the human life. There are no rules for something so gentle as a heart.
1. If love is at the core of us, we can add love to any misery we feel.
2. Forgiveness is the willingness to begin. Guilt is the love of staying stuck.
3. Solitude is togetherness, putting the parts of mind back together, unifying the pieces of self.
4. If I feel disapproval of someone and turning away from him or her, I am probably avoiding in myself what this person represents that I believe is true about me.
5. People liking me is a comment on them, not on me. Criticism is expressing their thoughts and feelings, it is not my being.
6. Dislike is a function of need. I want something from you that you don’t provide and so I dislike this condition and call you bad.
7. Silence can mean confidence and mutual respect. It is an affirmation that we are together, that we accept each other.
8. The heart loves, but moods have no loyalty; moods should be heard but never danced to.
9. Conversations happen on two levels: verbal and emotional.
10. I don’t feel “I want”. I feel “I lack”, therefore I decide “I want”.
And most importantly, love demands nothing in return.
The book represents a collection of short notes with no order or chronology, which makes it accessible at any time, in any moment. The above are only a few of the many notes Hugh Prater shares and I totally recommend diving into it, practicing your own reflection and transforming it into an opportunity for growth.
Get the book here.