We will always experience ups and downs, but what we reflect on impacts our happiness and wellbeing.
The end of a calendar year is our regular prompt to reflect and plan. I hope you’ve carved out time to do this for yourself in your work and personal life.
2020 has been challenging, disruptive, uncertain. If you’ve experienced any amount of pain and adversity, it might be easy to fall into that hurt and not see the good. This is natural.
But, it can be countered.
Anyone that joins this newsletter gets introduced to the 3 Good Things exercise from the Greater Good Science Center at Cal Berkeley.
This is a very simple practice that can be incorporated into even the busiest of lives. And it is a terrific way to train our mind toward seeing and embracing the good around us over living in and worrying about the negatives in life.
True to that exercise, I thought I’d share the 3 Good Things that happened to or for me in 2020.
Moved to NY and living under the same roof as my wife after 4 years
In March, I packed up the car and dog and headed from Denver to Potsdam, NY for a regular 6-week stay where my wife lives and works. I was living and working in Denver. During the 3-day journey, COVID demanded a shut-down of New York. Fortunately, I could make my stay in NY indefinite.
For nearly 4 years, I commuted 125 miles roundtrip each day and it was taking a toll on me mentally and physically. My wife and I agreed that having an apartment close to the office in Sioux Falls, SD would relieve some pressure. That experiment of living apart a few days a week helped prepare us for when I moved with Face It TOGETHER to Denver and my wife left the University of South Dakota for the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.
This arrangement lasted 2 years. We made it work. It was an adventure. We were fortunate to have homes in the Rockies and the Adirondacks. We truly valued our time when together.
COVID required a lot of organizations to pivot. Same for Face It TOGETHER. My role was already changing and presented a new opportunity, which is my third good thing below.
With no reason to stay in Denver, we started figuring out the logistics of getting out of an apartment and moving during a pandemic. In the span of a 2-weeks, I was able to fly back to Denver, sell a lot of furniture, pack up a U-Haul and drive cross-country to make Potsdam, NY a permanent home.
Being together during this truly bonkers year has been a blessing. I couldn’t imagine living apart during the pandemic. We look at life and our lives together as an adventure. Sure, some days are mundane and repetitive, but an adventure always awaits.
Finding a manual for a year of change
Toward the end of 2019, I bought a book called, “Creative Trespassing: How to Put the Spark and Joy Back Into Your Work and Life,” by Tania Katan.
I devoured the book when I got it. At the time, it reinforced and gave description to the work and culture of work I enjoyed for 7+ years.
But as I was making the transition to set out on my own, the book began to speak to me in different ways.
I have never felt that I belonged. I always felt like I was intruding, begging for permission to participate. It’s really a terrible way to feel.
The thing is, it’s just a feeling. Most of it is internal. It’s our own narrative.
As I started to introduce myself in a new way, those feelings of not belonging and being an intruder returned. It limited me. It still limits me.
Staring back at me everyday was this Creative Trespassing book. It reminded me that fitting in is for everyone else. It’s more fun to be a nonconformist. It’s a differentiation. The book reminded me to own this narrative – it’s my true narrative.
Holy crap, I started a company!
Thousands of small businesses are started every month. In 2020, we lost a lot of small businesses. We also had a lot of new entrepreneurs make the decision to lean way into the thing that gives them purpose and meaning in life.
I was one of those entrepreneurs.
During my time at Face It TOGETHER, I was tasked with figuring out how to measure addiction recovery. That simple, yet profound prompt led to the creation of the Recovery Capital Index (RCI).
Commonly Well was created to bring the RCI to life. The RCI is one important piece in creating a shift in how we engage the addiction crisis.
In 2017, I went to Reykjavik, Iceland for a conference. I met the researchers behind what’s known as the Icelandic Model. Those 3 hours at Reykjavik University sparked a bit of an existential crisis.
Too many people struggle with addiction. More people struggle with addiction than there is care available. An entire digital health industry is emerging to meet that desparate need. But frankly, none of that work will actually solve the problem.
It solves part of the problem.
This is what I call the inevitability paradox.
We can create the best treatments and interventions and self-management apps … but all of those “solutions” demand the inevitability that millions must experience immense suffering and unnecessary hardship.
Why not design a world that eliminates that suffering?
We cannot rid the human experience of all suffering. But some suffering can be prevented. Some of it we purposely design into our world. We can and should design it out.
When we do that, we’ll solve addiction without solving for addiction.
Commonly Well embodies a set of principles and a vision for the future that I deeply care about. I am grateful and proud to start this new endeavor and see it grow in 2021.
What for you positively marked an historically negative year? What are your 3 Good Things?
Thank you as always for giving your time to my thoughts.
Happy New Year and Be Well!
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