It's been a while since I've made a post on here, and I have meant for that, with good reason. As with my topic for today's post, I believe that far too often, we push ourselves to do what's expected, and beyond; losing sight of ourselves and what's important. Creating weekly posts WAS good... for a while. Good when I had content to post about; felt the creative 'juices' flowing. However, what happens when those juices run out? That's whats rarely discussed, or even acknowledged. It's so common for so many of us to stay up-to-date, in-the-know, ready and constantly pushing toward the "next best thing". But what does this mentality do to your SELF? Your BODY? Your SPIRIT? Your BRAIN? Today, we're talking about never standing still, never being content. The affects of constantly striving for the "next best thing".
When was the last time you felt content? No to-do list. No worries. No desire and/or drive to be something or someone, or to work on something? I'll tell you when it was for me: Monday night in the shower.
As I stood under the water, hot drops falling on my chest, I was thankful. Thankful for the day; thankful for still having my puppy, Sheba; thankful for my life, and the ability to take a hot shower, for as long as I desired.
Earlier this month, I created a gratitude challenge; showing gratitude for a different item of your life, each day. The hope there was that by putting extra thought on what we already did have, we'd be able to become more appreciative of our lives, in general. More thankful, more content, and less striving for something "more".
Now for me, this challenge has been amazing. As a person who has always struggled with wanting "more", I needed an opportunity to put things in perspective. However (and I'll be completely honest), I was shocked at the amount of people that DIDN'T take part in my challenge. I know lives are busy. I know that some people DO practice gratitude, each day, without posting it on social media. But I began to think about this more, and began to see the correlation; people CAN'T usually practice gratitude when they're too busy thinking about the "next best thing". It's just not possible.
I know I talk about social media a lot, and quite honestly, I always think I sound like a hypocrite when I mention how terrible it is for our lives, when I'm using a form of it to post this. Social media is great; it's useful when it comes to growing your brand, your business, sharing positivity and making connections. However, more-so than not, social media is the number one reason we can never feel content.
Now, I'm all-too familiar with the thoughts, too, "Oh, so-and-so's creating an awesome event; she's really growing her business; her photos always look so perfect; I MUST strive to be like her!"
So then, what happens after those thoughts are planted in our brains? They begin to grow, creating deep roots that are hard to let go of. We begin to create lists (mental and physical), fill up our calendars with to-dos, check and double-check others' social accounts, to make sure that OURS is starting to look more like someone else's. We begin to take photos, and Instagram stories, constantly. Taking and re-taking them, until we've reached the perfect one! We sit down (with our partner), at the end of a long day, and instead of soaking up that together-time, we're on our phones, our computers, constantly working, pushing on to achieve the "next best thing".
I'm sure reading it makes it sound just as crummy as writing it does. We've lost sight of ourselves. WHO EVEN ARE WE ANYMORE? Would you know, if you had no Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn account? Who would you be, if only the people you spent each day with, could see you?
Simplicity (Slowing Down)
I also recognize that in order to get somewhere, we need to 'hustle'. That's the way things are, in this day and age. But where are you getting to? When will you get there? Hustling, to hustle (with no end in sight) isn't healthy and isn't sustainable. Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is nothing. Slow it down, pull it back and just be.
I had a great conversation with a dear friend of mine, the other night. We were talking about joy, gratitude and the ever-constant 'next best thing'. "I know what I COULD be doing. But right now, sitting here, reading a random teenage fiction book (that has nothing to do with health, or bettering myself), or watching tv is what feels best - not doing anything, but BEING."
NOT DOING ANYTHING.... BUT BEING! Now, when was the last time you did that?!
If we're not careful, striving for that "next best thing" is always going to come up. And constantly striving to be something better or different isn't healthy. It's always going to win, if we allow it to. Here are a couple of things I'm trying, in order to prevent this from happening:
- Practice daily gratitude. Physically write down ONE thing you're grateful for, each day.
- Create a weekly exercise plan, with a couple rest days. DON'T feel bad about not exercising on those days.
- Take a night-time bath to unwind, and DO NOT use phone after bath-time.
- Snuggle with my cat, in the chair, for at least 30 min. each night. NO excuses.
- Eat without looking at my phone.
- Talk to my parents (or anyone I'm on the phone with) without distractions. No TV, internet, phone, etc.
- Sit in the chair, and mindlessly watch tv, or read a book, for at least 2-3 hours, per work-week. No work (physical or mental).
- If your brain isn't working, don't push it to work. Take a break, or a nap or just stop for the day.
- Stop worrying about the future. Create your calendar one week at a time.
In the famous words of John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans," and this could not be more true. Slow down. Take a step back. Appreciate what you DO have, and remember that that's really all you need.