Habits of sanity (and happiness!)

dontquiturdaydreamNot long ago, I told someone rather brashly that I didn’t “need” anything. By this, I mean to say I didn’t have any specific needs that needed to be filled in order to feel sane, balanced, or happy. I’m not sure where I got this rather deluded idea, but I think I was trying to convince myself that I’d evolved to some magical point along the personal growth spectrum where I was beyond the idea of “need”.

Well, I’m not sure that point actually exists, nor am I sure that it should! There ARE a few things we all need to do in order to feel sane, fulfilled, happy–whatever label you want to adhere to it. What I do think is forgotten is how much we need to do those things, and how often, quite ironically, we choose not to do them. We’re tired, we’re busy, or something else just sounds a lot easier, and hey, aren’t crime shows sources of personal fulfillment?

No. No they are not.

But, yes, I’ve made that mistake before, and I don’t doubt I’ll do it again. I think it’s OK if I pass up painting for a crime show sometimes, just so long as something else I’ve done that day is good for me, for my body or mind, or someone I love. I’d like to do a better job of balancing the mindless and the mindful, with intent to tip the scale toward the “ful” side. Of course, a job that requires mental precision and high levels of physical, mental, and emotional energy all day long makes the “less” side all the more appealing, but it’s not an excuse I want to get accustomed to buying into.

The solution for anyone (including yours truly, of course) in the midst of these options is to first know what it is that brings you the most happiness or peace of mind; it makes it easier to choose when there are a few options in front of you, rather than the ease of TV or “I don’t know…!” Is it cooking? Exercising? Playing with your pet? Writing or reading? Scrapbooking? Quilting? Playing music? Taking pictures? What, when you sit down to do it, gives you that unparalleled sense of delight that no amount of internet browsing or TV show watching could ever give?

For me, it’s writing (first and foremost! it’s not only joyous, but it un-clutters my jam-packed mind), drawing or painting (or any kind of creating), moving my body through yoga, running, walking, hiking, dance, etc., reading, emailing or calling distant friends, maybe baking something delicious, or even just sitting on the porch with a cup of tea and letting my mind wander. There are also evenings where I might like to knit or crochet and watch a movie or lounge about with a friend, conversing. And there are also times when I want to be a vegetable and browse the internet or watch crime shows for a bit.

But, to make sure I don’t too often choose the path of least resistance, I keep that mental list on hand. Should I watch that crime show now and risk being a lazy turd for the rest of the evening, or should I sit down to write for a bit, then maybe go for a jog, and watch the show before bed? I also write a few yoga practices (keeping a few of  your favorite exercise DVDs handy can work, too) to move through over the course of a month, keep my sneakers visible and by the door, and am, at present, in the process of taking the paint bottles out of my closet and onto the shelf near my desk. It’s about what’s visible, what’s available, and what’s accessible. The more often we choose to do things that bring us that sense of delight and joy, the easier it is to continue making healthier choices for ourselves, and the better we feel about ourselves, and our lives.

In short, don’t quit your daydream! Don’t allow the busy-ness or exhaustion of your day-to-day chip away at the habits or hobbies that bring you true happiness and satisfaction. Don’t give yourself over completely to your job, or your vices. It’s all about balance. I’m not sure I’ll ever master it, but I’ll always be trying 🙂

(PS: And for those of you who don’t understand the pure pleasure of good crime television, my heart goes out to you.)

Love, Katie

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