5 min read

A Mental Health Lesson from A Christmas Carol

Hello there! I'm Brennan Davis, the creator of CreaDev Labs, a place of learning and experimentation on productivity, creativity, and personal knowledge management. If you're new around here, be sure to check out my archive of previous newsletter editions. If you enjoy this newsletter, please consider sharing with a friend!

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There can be no doubt that A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is an absolute Christmas classic. The number of times the story has been adapted is astounding. A few of my favorite adaptations are Mickey's Christmas Carol, the Muppet Christmas Carol, and the made for TV version starring Patrick Stewart. I also really enjoy reading the book, and it's become my tradition to do so every year.

I think it's great reading good books over again because you catch new things each time you read them. This year something stood out to me in the scene where the Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to see his nephew Fred's dinner party on Christmas. Fred is described as having been "blest in a laugh", meaning Fred possessed one of those laughs that's an absolute joy to hear. Dickens goes on to remark:

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour."

You probably know someone who, like Fred, just has the most wonderful laugh, and when you're with that someone, you can't help but be in a "good-humour". I can think of a few of those people off the top of my head right now, and it's those people who I most like to be around. They help my cares and sorrows literally melt away.

Another phrase from this scene in the book resonated with me as well:

"After a while they played at forfeits; for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself."

Despite the fact that the people he was observing couldn't see or hear him, Scrooge got caught up in the games they were playing, and experienced a joy he hadn't felt in many a year. This serves as a great example of how laughter and child-like fun can cure even decades of misery and gloom.

I had occasion to play a game with my family recently that involves throwing foam burritos at each other. It was so much fun, and produced quite a bit of laughter. It felt so good to let go of cares and worries and experience pure joy. It helped me feel some of that magic I felt around the holidays as a kid, something I feel I've lost a bit as I've grown older.

This week as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I hope we may all have the opportunity to spend time with our loved ones, laugh, play games, and remember what it's like to be a child at Christmas. I hope that like Scrooge we can let go of the trials and sorrows of the past and devote ourselves to living better lives. Merry Christmas to you all, and as Tiny Tim observed, "God bless us, every one!".

What games do you like to play around Christmas? Please share with me by sending an email to brennan@creadevlabs.com, or if you're viewing this on the website please share in the comments section below.


Things I'm working on to improve my productivity and personal knowledge management practices

When I first started writing this newsletter I would try to write the entire thing out in a single session. This proved to be difficult as I would pretty much always be on a time crunch to get it done. I was also creating unique pieces of content every weekday, and this all proved to be too much. I've scaled back the content on the site to pretty much only the newsletter which has allowed me to spread the work out across multiple days. Each day I tackle a single section, which is much less stressful. It allows me time to think about what I want to say, and offers me the opportunity to make multiple passes on it. This has resulted in much higher quality, and I feel much better about the end result.

What I'm Reading / Watching / Listening to:

Resources and ideas from others to explore

Video: How to Set Meaningful Goals
New Year's is right around the corner, so my attention is turning to what I'd like to work on in the coming year. This video by the Bullet Journal's creator, Ryder Carroll, offers a really good perspective on goal setting, that of them being guides rather than final destinations. This is inline with what James Clear talks about in his book Atomic Habits about focusing on systems rather than goals. A goal is something to work towards, but the process of getting there is where the real change and value occurs. Don't focus so much on the end result that you miss the lessons and the joy of learning along the way. Progress should be the true measure of success.

Article: 3-2-1: A better measure of success, creating change, and resilience
I'm subscribed to James Clear's weekly newsletter, and this past week's edition was full of little nuggets of inspiration for someone like me who is trying to create unique content on a subject that's already been extensively covered. It was a reminder to me that my unique voice and perspective has the potential to reach people in ways that others can't, and it's not because those others don't create great content, but because things resonate in different ways to different people.

Latest Book Chapter Summary

Sketchnoted chapter summaries of books I'm currently reading

Summary of Atomic Habits: The Secret to Self-Control
Sketchnoted summary of Chapter 7: The Secret to Self-Control in James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits”

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