As I have been out of my 8-5 job for the past few months, I have come to observe my city and the people in it a little differently. As my life rhythm has slowed down, I feel like I'm walking in slow motion and everyone else is on fast-forward! It seems that we are all going nowhere at an extremely accelerated rate. "Rush Hour" may officially be between 4:30 and 6pm, but really it never stops. Why is this? I think our culture has become addicted to being busy--because being busy translates to being successful, right?
Have you ever had a conversation where someone asks you how you've been and you reply, "Oh, I've been SO busy lately!" It's almost satisfying to admit isn't it? Like in that one simple statement you are validating that you're okay, you're successful, you're doing exactly what you should be doing. It doesn't give us much time to really evaluate why we are doing what we're doing; if our exhausting efforts are even contributing to the right places. Are we over-contributing? Do we know how to say no? When was the last time we said it?
In this season of reflection, I've stepped back and looked at my calendar and re-evaluated the things I give my time to. I've cut some things, and I've said no. What I've learned is that a happy life is a simplified life. Cut out the chaos and the clutter! It's just making you insane. Here are some things I've figured out so far:
1. Having fun is NOT a crime.
Even if there is a lot to be responsible for, and work is a huge percentage of your life, don't feel guilty for taking time for some good old fashioned fun! Play time refreshes us, connects us to one another and actually makes us more effective in our work.
2. Don't be the most responsible person you know.
The people you surround yourself with matters. Are you finding yourself always cleaning up their messes? Always being the shoulder to cry on or the ear to listen? Always being DD, or being mindful of finances, bills and the future? If that's the case, it's time to re-evaluate your friends. Find people that inspire you, that you look up to, that will be a weight off your shoulders to hang out with.
3. Time for reflection is critical for growth.
Even if you're the most extraverted person in the world, and love being around people, this is for you too. Take yourself on a date. Get coffee, go for a hike in a beautiful place, put on music in your room and just think. Think about your day: what went right? What went wrong? Why? How did you react to certain situations. Are you happy? Why or why not? What kind of changes do you need to make for tomorrow?
4. If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.
This quote has been my anthem in recent months as I've grappled for some kind of continuity in my life. Every day I'm trying to make a promise to myself to do something I've never done. That doesn't have to be jumping out of an airplane or eating squid, it can be approaching a problem in a different way, driving a different route home, striking up a conversation with the person at the checkout stand. It's amazing the shift you will see happen.
Next time you find yourself on that hamster wheel of busyness, jump off quick! Find your way out of the cage and don't be a follower. You'll be amazed what you will observe from that perspective.
Shelley's Inkwell blog is where non-fiction and fiction collide. It's a place for my life reflections and a place to escape into some really good stories. Sometimes that really good story is fiction and sometimes it's non-fiction. Because sometimes the best chapters in life are the ones we could never write ourselves.