“Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.”
I’ve been told this a hundred times.
Doing what I love—namely reading and writing—has made a big impact in my personal happiness and well-being. As an act of self-care, it has changed the way I see the world, opened my creativity, strengthened my relationships and friendships, and improved my perception of stressors within the world around me. When I let go of trying to compare my achievements and skill level to others, it completely liberated me.
It’s ok to love what you do. It’s ok to be a beginner. It’s ok to do something purely because it makes you happy. Don’t compare where you are to another’s success.
On this Valentine’s Day, we are inundated with images of the L-word and what we picture it should be. Of course, love is romanticized through iconic images. Couples kissing, fuzzy stuffed animals, and mountains of chocolate and candy flood our Instagram feeds. What we forget, sometimes, is that love extends far beyond romantic love. Self-love, for example, is fundamental to the human condition. Self-acceptance, self-care, and the ability to embrace the things that drive us are what fundamentally let us celebrate being human.
Doing what you love not only improves quality of life, but there are literal changes in your body’s chemistry when this happens. In the presence of something perceived as “Good”, the brain releases four main chemicals, creating desirable states of the brain and keeping us coming back for more. I like to call these guys The Fab Four: Dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins.
- Dopamine motivates us to take steps toward our goals, needs, and desires, then gives a wave of supportive gratification when attaining them. Why do you think it feels so great when you hit your daily word count?
- Serotonin circulates when you feel significant or confident. When Serotonin is absent, feelings of loneliness and depression appear. Being outside in the sunshine promotes Vitamin D and serotonin production, a bonus for us outside-loving readers and writers!
- Oxytocin creates strength and trust within relationships. Released during sexual intimacy, touch/massage, childbirth or breastfeeding, and eating food (AMEN to that), Oxytocin is also famous for lowering blood pressure, increasing pain thresholds, and lowering anxiety.
- Endorphins are released in response to pain or stress and help to relieve anxiety and depression. That feeling after a workout you get is thanks to the release of endorphins. Laughing will bring this same feeling. Remember that mountain of Valentine’s Day chocolate? Studies have shown that dark chocolate can cue the brain to release endorphins. Reading books? If you recall my recent post about Books vs Technology, you may remember the chemistry lesson about the beloved book smell, which included the scent of vanilla. Vanilla and lavender scents have actually been linked to the production of endorphins in the body. Bibliophiles, buying books really DOES buy happiness!
So do what YOU love. Do it often. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
Create what moves you, and you will move the world.
With love on this Valentine’s Day,