Mental Dominoes

Last year, I made a commitment to donate 10% of my income. It felt about as exciting and sexy as getting up off a beach chair to dip my toe in the ocean and check the temperature for a swim.

Despite the lack of internal fireworks, my simple decision to try something new marked a major turning point. It changed how I allocated my resources, and it led to significant positive knock-on effects—both in my life and in the lives of others.

For example, my blog post was listed on the Giving What We Can member stories page. I got a message from a stranger named John on Christmas Eve. We had a call, which apparently played a part in his decision to take the pledge too.

(Conservatively estimating a Facebook engineer’s salary at $150k for a 15 year career, that’s nearly a quarter of a million dollars diverted to effective charities. It looks like John has now taken up blogging too, and might similarly impact others. Even if I played a small role here, the results could be quite large.) 

This week, I made a similar decision to get therapy. This has been languishing in the important but not urgent quadrant of the to-do list, just like donating was prior to last year.

I’ve known for a while that I should do it, and easily could do it, but I just haven’t felt impassioned. The rational machine in my head needed an external nudge.

It came in the form of a timely email from the inimitable Lissy Alden inviting me to join her beta MYNDY mental fitness experience. Sure, I could do this friend a favor and perhaps reap some personal benefit as well, no problem.

After investing a few hundred dollars, and more importantly my undivided attention for the first workshop on Monday, I found myself wanting more. It occurred to me that I wasn’t living in full alignment with how I envisioned my 2021 at the start of the year.

I was meditating for 30 minutes daily, but I hadn’t followed through on my other resolution to get therapy. And I had no good reason for this procrastination.

It took a couple false starts and some self-disciplining yesterday, but I eventually reached out to a few therapists from Psychology Today’s listings:

Hello, I’m interested in improving my mental and emotional well-being. I can’t pick out any specific major issues and would like help pattern-matching to identify areas in which I need work. I’d like to live a more disciplined and thoughtful life. I believe a weekly or bi-weekly structure with a professional therapist will make my personal reflections more productive. If you have bandwidth, may we have a consultation to assess potential fit? Thanks for your consideration.

A handful got back to me right away, and I scheduled 4 intro calls across Thursday (today) and Friday. I’m excited by the couple I’ve had so far and looking forward to choosing a therapist by mid-next week. Things are moving fast!

…Or, I might decide the timing isn’t right. Maybe the rates are too high. Perhaps I can’t find the perfect fit…

That’s just fine—as these folks are telling me in our free consultations.

At least I’m exploring the option seriously. All it costs so far is my time and willpower, and the upside potential is enormous. I could become twice as happy or productive or both.

What a great feeling to be testing the waters.

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