What if I could write my destiny? I could not travel back in time to change what happened, but I could write about how I remember it and interpret my memory from experience. I could not change what is happening now, but I can write my current thoughts down to release my stress as meditation and therapy for my mental health. I could not predict what will happen, but I could write about the future that I would like to see and be specific about the goals and dreams that I want to achieve.
What if the best self-help hook is the one that I write for myself? I mean not the best self-help book for every reader, but the best self-help book for the writer. I am a big fan of self-help books and have been reading a lot about them. They give me short moments of strength and motivation, but it does not change my actions. If all those books work, I would be very successful now, yet, I remain frustrated and seek more self-help books to read instead of taking any actions. There are many theories and fictional reasons we keep improving, but we could never improve without taking any steps to practice. Writing as in journaling for self-reflection at least supported by some scientific evidence. Science seems to show it works without fully understanding why it works.
What if I start this experiment and try writing things down? Today is my thirty-first birthday. I have been thinking about what is the best gift I could buy for myself. An iPad could be something too expensive that I want, but I know material gifts create the happiness that could not last very long. Instead, I decided to buy myself a notebook, not a laptop computer, but a physical pen and paper that I am writing right now. There are many potential benefits of writing that I would like to experiment with now.
Firstly, the best way to learn critical thinking is by writing. It forces me to think deeply and clearly in a logical structure that the reader could understand and be rational about it. Thinking is complex. The process could be non-verbal with intuitions; however, it could be very messy when writing down my thought process. Not just because my writing was confusing, but it reflects my thinking is also a mess. If my mind is clear, if I know what I am doing, I could logically write and speak about the pros and cons of different things. I could spot my errors in my thought process visually by putting them down on paper. I could therefore be a better critical thinker.
Secondly, the most effective way to learn about something is by writing about it. Once I write down the problem. I want to solve them so I can read books and articles about the topic. After I understand the meanings, I try to express them in my own words, and if I am struggling to teach the idea in simple terms, that means I have not fully absorbed the knowledge nor understand the reasoning behind the concepts. It implies I should study again for the materials or try to get other references. The process also strengthens the view from different angles. The writing process makes memories last longer in my brain.
Thirdly, I could write down many things now that I will forget later on in life. When I was trying to write about my childhood, I realised I forgot most of it already with only vague ideas of what exactly happened. It is a scary thought as if my life never existed. How can I be so sure and proof that I live if I could not even remember what happened to me in my childhood?
The political regime is always trying to change history by rewritten about what happened. How could we trust the history we read and learn from what was written by the victorious side of the story while the loser side of the story remains forgotten. Of course, I do not want to write to preserve the loser side of the story, but I have the responsibility to keep memories of what happened in Hong Kong and what the news implied. Later on, even though the political regime may rewrite the history, some historians could still find my diary as a record of what happened to people.
Overall, if this experiment of writing my destiny works, it would be fantastic. I always know I want to be a good person, but what does well even mean? I need to be specific about what kind of behaviour a reasonable person should do, and I verify and remind myself to demonstrate these behaviours as a good person. Similarly, I wish myself a happy birthday today, but what does happiness even mean to me? It could mean different things to different people.
Do I feel happy about my birthday? I don’t know, but I know there are no reasons to feel so sad about it, at least. I need to write down things that I feel grateful for. Thank you to my family who sends me birthday wishes messages from overseas. Thank you to my girlfriend who is still willing to call me, thank you to my mentor and friends for the birthday cakes, and thank you to everyone else who leaves me birthday wishes on Whatsapp, Linked In and Facebook.
These days material gifts are not as important as to me, but relationships that last seem to be very much more meaningful. If money can buy relationships, then rich people would not feel lonely. I could feel loneliness because of the lockdown in the covid period, but I wish the relationship and friendship can still last and maintain long-distance with the internet remotely.
Also, this kind of happiness is not just about how much I take, but more importantly, how much I give? How could I contribute to society and make positive impacts? How could I commit to the goals that I have and overcome all the difficulties in life? It is what I am going to write continually in my blog. Worst case scenario of my experiment failed, at least writing is an important life skill that I need to sharpen and practise daily for sure.
Originally published at http://victorleungtw.com on July 31, 2021.