Ah yes! The holidays are upon us and no doubt we are already starting to feel busier than usual. Christmas and Hanukkah decorations line store shelves, plans are being made with friends and family, lists being written and checked twice. In my mind’s eye, I can picture Professor Hinkle from the movie “Frosty the Snowman” saying,
“I must get busy writing. Busy, busy, busy!”
Being busy is an interesting thing to consider as we promenade ourselves toward year’s end. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Is it a worthwhile goal to be achieved or a necessary evil that keeps us from feeling whole or calm? The answer is: it depends. When you contemplate your life as it is right now, does the amount of activity and obligation in it bring you joy and fulfillment, or does it drag you down so that you can’t wait until the day is over? Is there too much to do or too little, or does it feel just about right? You see, I have been all over the busy-ness spectrum. I’ve been so busy that I felt I didn’t know my own name, and at times I’ve been bored out of my mind looking for something else to do.
What I know now is that I prefer the middle space: busy enough to feel vital, productive and happy, without everything feeling like a task that has to be completed. I have friends who do twice as much in a day’s time and wonder what I do with myself all day long. It works for them and they seem happy with the pace of their lives. And that’s the difference. Does it make you happy?
For a long time, my standard answer to “How are you doing?” was “I’m soooo busy,” said with an air of finality and exhaustion, as if someone out “there” was doing this to me. Sound familiar at all? If you are one of those folks who always says “yes” when “no” would be an act of kindness to yourself, what can you do? We tend to pile life’s stuff onto and into our lives like so many unworn shirts, filling every nook and cranny.
So maybe it’s time to clean out the proverbial closet! That’s right! Take a look at all of the obligations, activities and things you have on your life’s to-do list and start seeing them as the great organizer Marie Kondo would suggest. She wrote a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up—The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Now, I haven’t read the entire book, but I’ve read several articles on her methods and they are pretty fascinating! Here is a link to an article about it that was written by Cate La Farge Summers, in case you are curious: https://www.onekingslane.com/live-love-home/marie-kondo-book-declutter/.
After reading the article, I thought about the many parallels between organizing our homes and organizing our lives to bring out more joy. Here are a few twists on ideas she had in the article:
Lesson #1: Tackle your thinking, not who you are as a person.
So often, we judge ourselves more harshly than even our worst critic. Our own negative self-talk skews our perception of who we are and reinforces an outlook that we are not worthy. So instead of beating ourselves up for our mistakes, our looks, our weight or our previous choices and thinking that that is who we are, change the way you speak to yourself. Give yourself a break and know that you are doing the best you can do with where you are right now. Instead of seeing “fault” in the mirror, see love; instead of wrinkles, see wisdom, and; instead of mistakes, see experience. Each little change in our perception, each dose of love we give ourselves, changes the pathways in the brain and reinforces positive habits. As Douglas Wood said: “The more we say thanks, the more we find to be thankful for. And the more we find to be thankful for, the happier we become.”
Lesson #2: Respect Yourself.
When we respect ourselves, we make better choices. That’s really all there is to it. We are not perfect and we don’t always get it right, but the more we make choices from our hearts and for our highest and best good, the closer we come to figuring out what brings meaning into our lives.
Lesson #3: Nostalgia is not your Friend.
These words are verbatim from the article, but apply beautifully to our lives. The past is the past, so let it go. I’ll never be as fit or as young or as dumb as I was 20 years ago, but I’m happy to let go of all of that for the wealth of wisdom I now possess. When we stay in the present moment, we are alive with potential. When we live in the past, our energy stays there with us and keeps us from moving forward. So whatever it is that you are holding onto, let it go with grace and ease.
Lesson #4: Fall in Love with your Life.
What are you waiting for? If you feel too busy, what can you do without that will bring more joy into your life? If you are unhappy or bored or in pain, take the necessary steps, one step at a time, and find your way out of the muck, the routine, the habit, the rut. Call a friend. Go for a walk. Sing, shake, scream, laugh, start moving. Take time to be in gratitude for the big and small things in your life. Take a deep breath and smile.
There was a recent article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune newspaper about staying active after 50. In the article, the writer talks about James Owen who, at 70 years old, looked in the mirror and said to himself: “Oh my God, this can’t be me.” He said that he was overweight, his knees were shot and he had back pain. He decided that day that enough was enough, and started walking. At first, he walked 10 minutes a day and after one week, he added five minutes. And he didn’t look back. He is now 76 years old, does an hour-long workout five times a week, wrote a book, and feels better than he has in years. Here is the link to the story: http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20171017/after-50-workouts-should-be-age-appropriate.
Some quotes come to mind as I finish up here:
“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”
“No matter how slow you go, you’re still passing everybody sitting on the couch.”
Find out (or come back to) what fulfills you and, in this season of gratitude and light, look for and acknowledge the people, things and activities that bring you joy. Make small changes, relish your accomplishments, smile often, and know that you are a child of the Universe—whole and complete just as you are.
Mary Boutieller has lived in Florida since 1970 (almost a native), and is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.