365th day, 360th piece: Meta-reflections about writing, authenticity, and flourishing

365th day, 360th piece: Meta-reflections about writing, authenticity, and flourishing

This has been my new year’s resolution for 2022. I wanted to hone my writing skills, reflection skills, and spirituality through a daily writing habit. I missed 5 days (days 6-10) due to COVID, but having 360 daily reflections sounds good enough. This is the last for the year, so I will indulge myself and do some word vomits! Haha!

I compiled all of my reflections and experimented with an AI qualitative analysis tool to analyze the most common themes in my reflections. The top two themes are “authenticity” and “flourishing”, which makes a lot of sense. What clicked for me as a person and researcher is that the critical realist approach to doing research (inspired by Bhaskar, Elder-Vass, and Archer) plus authenticity, the general empirical method, and action research for transformations (inspired by Lonergan, Coghlan, and Bradbury) are great meta-frameworks to craft insights about myself, organizations, and society. Through my reflections, I have deepened my appreciation for the Catholic faith’s concept of integral human development, which has great overlaps with the concepts of well-being and flourishing.

My reflections that seemed to have engaged the most audience are about the aftermath of the Philippine national elections, rethinking what being an influencer means, and the advent of AI specifically AI-assisted writing. Getting reactions and comments have not been my primary motive, but getting responses about my reflections and inquiries does feel good. But this practice is more about discipline and less about pleasure; I can think of many days when it was very hard for me to write about the passages of the day.

There are days, though, when the words seem to write themselves and I indulge. Just like this morning – coffee, a beautiful sunrise, and a serene morning can trigger inspiration.

For next year, I intend to continue this practice but with some twists to spice things up. I will continue to experiment with AI tools like Grammarly and ChatGPT or the OpenAI Playground as an “AI writing partner”. I will also look into converting some of my reflections and opinion columns into short videos or even podcasts, and I might experiment with text-to-speech and text-to-video tools.

Finally, the gospel for the day seems most appropriate to close this year’s round of reflections and even this year itself: “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace…” I relate this with the following principles when writing and reflecting:

  1. We write to express insights, not to impress. This principle goes back to my high school days. Back then, the maxim goes: “You write to express, not to impress.” But the question is, what are we supposed to express? These should be insights – nuggets of wisdom that are clear, relatively original, usable, relatable. The best insights are those born from attentiveness to experiences, intelligence in understanding, reasonableness in judgments, and responsibility in actions. The challenge with insights is that it is sometimes an elusive grace – it cannot be forced, but it can be facilitated. It is a special kind of grace to have insights emerge, and being able to capture it like lightning in a bottle is something that writers and artists should always be grateful for.
  2. The flow experience in writing is when the words write the author; when flow is triggered, indulge but when it is elusive, summon discipline or be unafraid to dialogue (with others or with AI). Even though I have a natural affinity with writing activities, it is not easy to articulate insights. It is really a dance between discipline and flow, and I find that having others to talk with or having AI tools help me edit or consider different angles can eliminate writer’s block. Perhaps the paradox with pursuing integral human development or flourishing is that it is not an individual activity; it is not enough to want to grow. A person must will it but also facilitate (not control) conditions or context that allows such growth. I remember two Bamboo albums: “We Stand Alone Together”, because we are both alone and accompanied; and “As the Music Plays the Band”, because there are times when the words write the author.

This year has been one of the most challenging in terms of adjustments in my personal and professional life, and maybe the next year will be much more difficult. But with discipline, flow, and faith, I pray that I can always be authentic so that I can flourish.

Ending with my dad’s favorite speech opener: the only permanent thing is change, and change can be so constant that you may not feel the difference. If I can be and write the change I want to see, then maybe I can make a difference.

John 1:1-18. “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace…”


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