Can reading a blog tell you how to change your life?

And does it really help?
Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash

If I had a pound for every title or tagline that absolutely swears this thing or that will change my life, I wouldn’t need to do anything for money in my life ever again. I could change, transform and make everything better overnight. It has become a sort of epidemic in writing. You are promised every sort of panacea to whatever you think is wrong with your life.

Surely if it was as easy as these articles, blogs, you tubers, podcasters claim, we would all have done it by now and we wouldn’t need them. We would all have transformed ourselves wondrously from whatever we think we are to whatever we think we want to be.

I’m as guilty as everyone else of being caught by these attention grabbing headlines, mostly, in my case, on blogs about improving my writing and transforming my blog into a multi million pound business and achieve my dreams. This is about as unlikely as me getting up out of my wheelchair and walking! And yet every day, despite me being determined not to, I read them. Then I follow links within them and read those too, until I suddenly realise that two hours have gone from my morning.

My days are short and those two hours are precious. Instead of reading about blogging I should be blogging! I have found some of it really useful, especially the Facebook groups I’ve joined. To me it’s more valuable to share a blog post on a group and let other bloggers comment (if they want to!) or to ask a question and let others answer with their experiences.

Maybe reading these articles takes our minds off a particular problem or worry. Maybe we look to them in the hope of having a ‘Eureka’ moment, suddenly showing us what we’ve been missing, how we can find the one thing we need, the ability to change our life forever. It rarely happens. It’s not that simple.

I’ve read blogs written by people who truly have changed their lives. The guy working in Silicone Valley who left his job, set up his own website and then travelled the world whilst working, a ‘digital nomad’. Or the couple whose lifestyle website was so successful they gave up their day jobs and cycled round the world, whilst maintaining their blog!

I read blog advice in the hope that I can finally produce the post that goes viral! Maybe this post will (not likely). But I live in hope. Some of these articles strengthens my resolve.

I have gained nuggets of info which have inspired me to try to improve my blog, and I think that’s really the point, Reading them and gaining small bits of information or picking up tips can be really inspirational or just helpful in solving a problem, or moving forwards. That seems more realistic than changing your whole life overnight!

There is, of course, the possibility that I have got this all wrong, that this is all we’re meant to take away, the odd tip or trick.

One blog I read actually set out a checklist to help you achieve your dream life, nothing wrong with that, you may think, but just have a look:

  1. Work only contract jobs – check
  2. Travel as much as possible – check
  3. Start a travel blog, build following
  4. Start an event planning business on line – check
  5. Build client list
  6. Train as a travel agent – check
  7. Get TICO certified – check
  8. Find a travel agency to work with as outside sales rep –Check

(From https://ohwhatajourney.com)

I’m not saying this is in anyway wrong, just a tad unrealistic! I’ve no doubt that this is meant to be a long-term plan, but I think most people who read these advice blogs are looking for something that moves a bit quicker!

To be fair, this is only one blog I found among many I’m sure, but it caught my eye when I looked into the idea of a ‘freedom lifestyle’ (see https://bellesdays.com/can-we-live-a-freedom-lifestyle) because it did seem rather far-fetched.

So, whilst people want to read things writers will want to write these things. But I have realised through my unconstructed reading, that you can get so lost in how many ways there are to achieve what you want, that you forget that the only way is to just bite the bullet and do it!

Photo by Gary Butterfield on Unsplash

Living the very best life you can

What we can learn from the Stoics
Photo: Barns Images on Unsplash

I read an article two or three days ago about how Stoicism can help you be the person you want to be. I took quite a lot from it and considered how I could apply it to my own life

Under the heading ‘View from above’ the writer suggests re-evaluating ones life; perhaps in the evening, you review your day and how you feel about things that may have taken place. He writes:

‘How many times have you had a conversation or an interaction with someone and thought afterward “oh man, I should have said that”, or “I wish I hadn’t done that”?‘

(Toby Carr on Medium.com)

That has happened to me so many times. Indeed I used to spend hours after a conversation reviewing it in my mind and feeling cringingly embarrassed at the way I had conducted myself in the interaction.

Weird?! Not so, but the result of a complete lack of self confidence and extreme self-consciousness.

What the Stoics can teach us

I began reading the Letters of Seneca, another great Stoic. In three brief letters on the shortness of life he said:

We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.”

(Seneca: The Shortness of Life)

I realised over time, reading Marcus Aurelius as well, that life was too short to worry about things I had said and was not able to take back, things I had worried about unnecessarily, situations I had handled badly. All the things that makes us human and fallible.

But I was soon to learn about the shortness of life in a dramatic fashion, which forced me to re-evaluate every single aspect of my life. My active life was cut short through illness and disability at the age of 48.

Although it has taken me 15 years to learn to live with my rapidly progressing paralysis, eventually I found a way to practice the teachings of the Stoics, just as I had always tried to do, to get over the self consciousness issues of my younger self, and all the things I wished had had different or better outcomes. Believe me, there is nothing that makes you more self conscious than suddenly having to live your life in a wheelchair!!

Toby writes:

‘Exercise helps with mental clarity as well as general physical health’ and ‘Physical exercise should be a staple in everyone’s life’.

(Toby Carr)

Obviously, for me, physical exercise was out of the question. Gone was the opportunity to take long walks to clear my head and do my thinking. Even now it’s difficult for me to find a private space to think.

I’ve always loved classical music, so with a pair of headphones I am able to get some thinking space listening to music that inspires me. That’s the nearest thing to a walk!

In addition, I can listen to the Letters and the Meditations of the Stoics on audiobooks.

So, despite my limitations, I still try to live and be the best I can be. I always try to think of something that makes me smile before I go to sleep. I don’t dwell on negative thoughts, or things I have said during the day or things that worry me, but to be in a positive frame of mind as I drift off.

None of it is easy – every slight movement or nerve pain reminds me I have MS and I will always have it. But, as someone close to me is fond of saying ‘life was never meant to be easy’. I’m sure everyone would agree with that.

Be kind to yourself, live your best life and, of course be kind to everyone else.

Photo: Sourced from Google Images

First published 10th December on https://medium.com