We’ve all been there. Whether it is at home or at work or worse yet, when we are sitting around actually relaxing.
You know what I’m talking about. That overwhelming feeling that you should be doing something.
And then all the chores and to-dos start buzzing around in your head.
I should do the laundry. But what I just did it yesterday. Oh but, there are more clothes in there.
Maybe I should prep food for the week. Cut the veggies. Pack the lunch boxes. You know, the cute way that those vlogs demonstrate how you can easily grill up some veggies and chickpeas and make four grain bowls for the week.
Or if you are more civic-minded, you feel the desire to get involved in something. Whether it’s the thought you should volunteer more or go walk precincts or go cuddle puppies. It’s all out there. Those feel-good stories about people who somehow are able to drop everything, start a charity and save a group of orphans.
I’m not in any way disparaging these people. In fact they are our role-models. They are the people I look to and think “If you they can do all these amazing things, surely, I can do the bare minimum.”
But what is that “bare minimum”? What can I do when the effect is not directly on me?
Social media is full of ideas of great accomplishments by ordinary people. This of course brings about frustration.
Because let’s face it. We have jobs. We have obligations to our family and friends.
This used to be the typical dilemma of a Type-A personality, and more specifically, a Type-A female personality.
Simple Psychology (https://www.simplypsychology.org/personality-a.html) provides the three basic traits of the Type A personality:
- Competitiveness - Type A individuals tend to be very competitive and self-critical. They strive toward goals without feeling a sense of joy in their efforts or accomplishments.
Interrelated with this is the presence of a significant life imbalance. This is characterized by a high work involvement. Type A individuals are easily ‘wound up’ and tend to overreact. They also tend to have high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Time Urgency – Type A personalities experience a constant sense of urgency: Type A people seem to be in a constant struggle against the clock.
Often, they quickly become impatient with delays and unproductive time, schedule commitments too tightly, and try to do more than one thing at a time, such as reading while eating or watching television.
- Hostility - Type A individuals tend to be easily aroused to anger or hostility, which they may or may not express overtly. Such individuals tend to see the worse in others, displaying anger, envy and a lack of compassion.
When this behavior is expressed overtly (i.e., physical behavior) it generally involves aggression and possible bullying. Hostility appears to be the main factor linked to heart disease.
Okay, so definitely NOT a flattering image of Type-A person. I mean, who wants to be associated with hostility, bullying, and being competitive to the point of hostility. All this denotes a negative connotation about the person.
I am not happy to admit this, but I certainly possess all three of the above-described characteristics. These characteristics, I think, are what leads Type-A personalities to have the urge to always do something.
Unfortunately, our current mentality of always-trying-to-get-ahead has spilled out and infected other personalities as well. Just look at any parent – worried about their child doing “enough.” Enrolling children in karate, soccer, multiple music classes, art classes, drama classes, STEM, coding, Legos …. all this because this overwhelming urge to always be doing something has infected us all.
But, we also have an obligation to ourselves and to our family. To maintain and take care of ourselves and our mind and our sanity. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Say that with me: There is nothing wrong with taking care of myself. And my family.
I am not advocating that you do nothing. Rather, I ask that you take that time to relax, even if its just a couple minutes of sitting on the couch. And best of all there is a simple way to avoid the guilt of taking a moment for yourself.
Why is this important?
Because as parents we must manage our expectations and competitiveness as that will is how we project to our little ones.
So what can be done about this? How can we achieve peace, calm, and bliss?
Whatever you feel about her, you cannot argue that Marie Kondo is wrong. Her philosophy of tidying up your home so you only surround yourself with items that bring you joy, that spark joy in you is absolutely spot in if you want to maintain and thrive and move forward in this brave new world we find ourselves in.
We are surrounded by excess everywhere we look. From the celebrity mansions featured on any of the plethora of shows available on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, Comcast cable, and don’t even get started on all the Direct TV satellite stations. But you say, that’s celebrity excess. We are just ordinary people living ordinary lives.
True, but even there we are surrounded by excess. Take a look at the grocery store. How many different varieties of granola cereal can they come up with? Or different types of pasta shapes? Or different ice cream flavors!
Now having options for things is not bad. And that does go with Marie Kondo’s philosophy of not dumping everything out for a minimalist life but to look at your options and then only keep what makes you happy.
Let’s take a step back though. What does make you happy? Is it your friends, your family? Your job? Your home? Your house as its designed? Maybe it’s that special car you have? These are all tangible items that bring you joy.
You say, but I’m not into the physical stuff. For me experiences make me happy. Maybe it’s the feeling you get when your child does well in school and comes home with a good grade on the report card? Or maybe it’s traveling on a new exotic adventure?
All the above are examples of tangible or intangible items that spark joy in you are great. Keep them. Relish them. Enjoy them.
One thing: Keep and Do Only What’s Necessary.
That is a tough thing for many of us to do to do. Even as I write this, I am jumping between a few other activities.
But I have to use this life given to us as a place to learn from my many mistakes, and hopefully, stop making them, and focus on living my Purpose in life. Not on all the other things that I think I should be doing, but only what is necessary for me to do.
But in order to know what is necessary, we have to go on a journey, a journey to discover what really supports us and causes us to grow as an individual.
Sure your friends and family and the life you have surrounded yourself with have influences, significant influences on you and your behavior.
But a practical approach to living an inspired, only-what-is-necessary life is helpful on this journey.
In doing so, the goal is for you to be able to understand your mind and understand who you are, understand your focus on life is not on the material but is rather one that is dictated by circumstances out of your control – it is how you choose to respond to a given situation that you will reap the reward or consequence. As the days progress, the goal is for you to stop thinking and overthinking things, to stop having fear, to be inspired to live a creative balanced life.
I love quick easy sayings, wisdom nuggets that you can look at, read, and try to put into practice.
So let’s start with this wisdom nugget: Do Less, Focus More, Breathe.
Simple, practical. We’ve heard it before. But have you really practiced it?
That’s the thing with practice, though. You have to first try it. And then you have to do it again!
So, the next time you feel that urge to run headlong into something, stop, focus and breathe.
Only from experience will it become clear that living this way not only clears your mind, but clears things up for your family and more importantly, your daughters. For they will see that they are worth it. That what they want matters. Not the physical things. The simple joys of just laying around on a Sunday morning and having a cuddle, without regard for what must be done. Or clearing all Saturday activities so that you can be together at home.
Do Less. Focus More. Breathe.