There is an abundance of lists, everywhere you look. Content is gravitating towards becoming presented in lists rather than in essays. I feel that when we say that we are “reducing” something to a list, we’re unjustly shaming the idea of “listing”; lists are, after all, a great way to communicate clearly and be well understood, but also a good way to push our thoughts further. Instead of a mish-mash of information in a paragraph, we count the number of good ideas we have conjured up, and push for an additional point, and then one more, and maybe just another to get us to a neat number. Lists inspire better, clearer thinking, and more of it.
As an aside, lists are, in fact, also a way to style our information. Given the post I wrote previously on Style vs. Substance, I obviously enjoy style quite a lot. I believe I have made my point – lists are great. So, without further delay, let’s get right into it: today I present you with a selection of lists that you can make for yourself – for your well being, personal development, peace of mind, curiosity. Whether created on paper, on a screen, or in your mind, these will help you itemize your journey as a human being, but I promise that it will be without any “reducing.”
(1) Local places you love or ones you’re sentimental about. If you have lived in a place long enough to make memories, you might be familiar with the strange emotional turbulence you feel when you walk through places where these memories have taken place. Subway stations, coffee shops, parks, and street corners. It helps to know where these are. Sometimes taking a walk through an area that brings warm associations is enough to brighten a whole day, and that’s a good tool to have.
(2) Adjectives you want to embody. Everybody wants to be happy and smart, but digging deeper, what personal characteristics in particular are important to you? I have three adjectives that I keep in the back of my mind on an almost daily basis: brave, kind, and patient. This set of words helps me take leaps and make changes where I need to, remain level headed and avoid rushing, and treat others – and myself – well. Pick a few words that speak to you and use the combination for an occasional “check” to ensure you’re moving in the right direction.
(3) Challenges you have already overcome. Looking back is healthy every once in a while because we learn that things that have once seemed intimidating have actually turned out to be doable. Inconveniently, we forget how capable we are when it comes to taking on a big upcoming challenge. Look to past ones, successfully completed, for reassurance.
(4) Things you want to learn. While looking back is important, looking forward is even more so. Keeping a list of things to learn can bring about a good dose of motivation to avoid settling into monotony. Want to learn Italian? How to drive manual? Keep a plant alive? Bird watch? Document it now, keep the list updated and relevant, and hold yourself up to following through on at least a few items.
(5) Images you wish you could have captured. Every once in a while you might take part in a scene that you find to be perfect. It might not be a special occasion, and you might not even remember the specific day of the year that it happens, but something about the images and sounds around you strikes a chord. Having a mental account of these “photographs” helps us understand what it is about this world that puts us at ease with it, and gives us the power to seek out these situations and treat ourselves to these moments more often.
One of mine was on a clear sunny day in August a few years ago. I was on vacation away from the busy city, heading up to Northern Ontario. The image that stayed with me was of rolling hills and fields all around the road that we were driving on. I could see very far in all directions, and this turned out to be the rest that my eyes and my mind needed.
It is good for each one of the lists suggested here to grow in length over time, but perhaps it’s most important that we are most consistent in contributing to this last one whenever we can.