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a blog by Chris Barrow

"Do the next right thing"

Another Monday (and another poor Sunday night's sleep for me).

In all fairness, I had a pretty indulgent weekend in the food and drink stakes and may just have peaked a little early for Christmas. Or maybe I'm just getting a bit to old for that malarkey?

Note to self.

In any event, I descend to my basement office this morning and look at "the list" of things I want to get done today/this week with a slight sense of overwhelm.

Then I check one of my favourite weekend newsletters - The Marginalian - and find a beautiful article on Carl Jung on How to Live and the Origin of “Do the Next Right Thing”

And I quote......

"The concept, in fact, originated in a lucid and largehearted letter Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (July 26, 1875–June 6, 1961) wrote to an anonymous correspondent.

In a letter to a man who had reached out in abject anxiety and distress, feeling that he had, quite simply, mislived his life. Jung writes:

Dear Herr N.,

Nobody can set right a mismanaged life with a few words. But there is no pit you cannot climb out of provided you make the right effort at the right place.

When one is in a mess like you are, one has no right any more to worry about the idiocy of one’s own psychology, but must do the next thing with diligence and devotion and earn the goodwill of others.

In every littlest thing you do in this way you will find yourself. [Everyone has] to do it the hard way, and always with the next, the littlest, and the hardest things.

Yours truly, C.G. Jung

Nowadays, I'm not in any mess such as that described by Jung's correspondent (although I've had my moments in years past) - I'm simply tired and daunted by the week ahead - I'm not match fit for the next 5 days - and that's a poor example to those around me - perhaps just like you?

So today I'm going to keep things very simple and just "do the next right thing."

"And so the best we can do is walk step by next intuitively right step until one day, pausing to catch our breath, we turn around and gasp at a path. If we have been lucky enough, if we have been willing enough to face the uncertainty, it is our own singular path, unplotted by our anxious younger selves, untrodden by anyone else."

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