(October 23 to November 21)
Whatever you are trying to stop doing will not work until you cease being a dick to yourself. Like, you can still be a dick to yourself in other areas. Far be it from me to preach totalitarian self-love. But when you try to remove something from your life, a person, object, or action that no longer serves you (though it once seemed to serve and protect you very well), be nice to yourself. Why would you give it up if all that’s left is you and some asshole in your mind?
(November 22 to December 21)
OK, so if I tell you to be still with yourself again this month, will you kill me? I’m doing it, because you need it again. Your outward odysseys and surface comings and goings are cool and make for good stories and experiential learning. But the inward odyssey, even the feelings you’d rather not feel, is the bigger trip. Try to take a few minutes each day to do absolutely nothing. If you can’t do it once a day, then just do it once, right now: ten minutes, eyes closed, focus on the place between your brows and breathe.
(December 22 to January 19)
Somewhere along the way, we decide that some of our needs are OK and some of them aren’t. It’s strange that what we choose to define as OK usually bears little connection to reality. Most likely, it stems from our parents’ early expectations. When in doubt, blame your parents. For me, the need for approval and the need to be perfect feel OK. The need to just be human and the need to be vulnerable? Not OK. Which needs of yours are you shunting away to the outer layer of your psyche because you fear they are unacceptable, unattractive, or too much for this world? Maybe dig one out and let it live.
(January 20 to February 18)
Stop listening to what you think you know. Knowing things is boring. Spend this month knowing nothing. Knowing nothing is exciting, like a small flame softening the wax of who you think you are. The wax is getting dusty and gross. It’s a moldy cinnamon-spice candle in a jar at someone’s aunt’s house. You really don’t have to know anything. Be smoke.
(February 19 to March 20)
OK, here are a few ideas I like. Do with them what you will:
1. Fear is nothing but imagination, unless it’s tethered to something that is truly, actually occurring in the present moment.2. All our attributes as human beings (including imagination) can be used to make our lives more beautiful or more miserable.3. Life is scary when you think a scary thought.4. It’s hard to direct our first thought, but it’s much easier to direct the thought that follows.
(March 21 to April 19)
If you haven’t already figured out that time changes everything, come join the party. For example, some of the people I thought were just OK ten years ago were actually, looking back, deeply fuckable. And some of the people I thought were deeply fuckable were merely a projection of who I wanted them to be. Same goes for what you imagine you want out of life.
(April 20 to May 20)
You don’t have to know what anything is. Nobody knows what life is, and we are all still here. If you are having an experience that feels powerful but you are unable to define it, don’t sweat it. Oftentimes, the more you define something, the less you can feel it, and the more you feel it, the less you can define it. Leave words alone this month. They will still be there next month.
(May 21 to June 20)
Everything is so not OK, and it’s fine. Like, you’re just never going to get to the place where you have everything under wraps: your body, career, relationship, living space. Honestly, what would you even do if everything were under wraps? You would probably panic and unwrap something, just to avoid a greater sense of *Now what?* I want you to know that unwrapped as you are, you are killing it. Believe that, and you will always be wrapped in your own way underneath the fraying ends.
(June 21 to July 22)
Some people say that happiness is a choice, and those people are annoying. Anyone who has ever struggled with mental illness or been overcome by a feeling knows that it is not always a choice. At the same time, what might be a choice is the degree of acceptance we have around a feeling. This month, when feelings of sadness, anger, or other sensations we deem “bad” come up, can you be like, *OK, bring it on* ? Can you see it as a sign you are alive?
(July 23 to August 22)
Envy is totally fine and human, but it’s also like peeing on yourself while the person you envy stays dry. What’s also weird about envy is that as much as it is uncomfortable, it gives us a hit by allowing us to feel in control of a situation we do not control. This month, experiment with envy. When you notice that you feel envious of someone, immediately wish them wonderful things in your mind — anything you’d want for yourself: happiness, health, love, friendship, success, money. This will feel like a punishment at first, and also totally like a lie, but see if you feel less pee-soaked the more often you do it.
(August 23 to September 22)
You exist, and fire exists. Start burning shit. Burn bundles of cedar and sage, sticks of incense four or five at a time, dried lavender in an abalone shell, marshmallows on your stove flame. Don’t worry about the proper way to “smudge” or the perfect woo-woo prayer. Google nothing, set no intentions, just revel in the glory of pyromania and how long it’s been since you’ve done anything for the sheer sake of doing it.
(September 23 to October 22)
Let’s make this the month of yes and no. Observe your yeses and nos, all of them. Do you ever lie and say yes to something when you know you will not make it or will have to bail? Why do you do that? How do you feel when you say no? Guilty? Empowered? Punishing? Scared? Do you no longer say yes to anything because you’ve already said a lifetime’s worth of yeses you didn’t mean? Do you want to have more fun? Are you tired?
*Melissa Broder is the author of four collections of poems, including the forthcoming* Last Sext *(Tin House 2016), as well as* So Sad Today, *a book of essays out in March from Grand Central.*