Fix Your Whole Life by Stopping Eight Things
Why should you bother? Because it matters.
Stop thinking it’s about you.
Elly points out that an overactive ego can work to make you self-conscious, not self-important: “I would walk through the supermarket convinced I knew what everyone was thinking about me… How self centered is that?” The way people react is informed by their childhood, their ex-boyfriends, their kids, the bills that came in that day, how badly their shoes fit – and not very much by you. You are not what people’s reactions are about. Stop thinking everyone is judging you.
Stop being busy.
“Worrywort” – “nervous Nellie” – sounds like a wuss. “Stressed” – “multitasker” – sounds important. We’ve turned worry on its head because it sounds fancier. We blame the world because it sounds better. We’ve taken an internal issue and switched it for an external locus of control – a foolproof route to an unhappy life. An internal locus of control, on the other hand, is the belief that you determine your fate – that what happens to you is, at the end of the day, up to you. If I’m overwhelmed, it’s because I made choices. If I don’t like it, I need to do something. I need to say no. I need to FISI. I need to escape the cult of busy. I need to work smarter. This doesn’t mean I will never have frantic days. But it means I will decide not to make it my default.
Stop trying to get better at things you suck at.
I love Gretchen Rubin’s comments on Impostor Syndrome. Don’t let your hunger for legitimacy make your decisions, she says. What she means is, be kinder to yourself. Don’t go after a goal because you think it’s what “grown-ups” are supposed to do or want. Stop trying to turn your weaknesses into strengths. Let yourself be mediocre at some things so you can focus on kicking ass at your gifts. They’re real and they matter. “Dancing, she explained, ‘is the one thing that I do, that when I do it I don’t feel like I should be doing anything else.'” (Go read the heartbreaking article that gorgeous quote is from.) What’s your dancing? And why, why, why are you doing other things instead?
Stop buying stuff.
Spend on adventures instead. Buying stuff just gives you more things to take care of. It doesn’t make you happier. Fact. Experiences, adventures – that’s what makes you happier, stretches your brain, gives you memories. Save up for those instead.
Stop feeling entitled.
You are not entitled to a vacation. You are not entitled to a nice boss. You are not entitled to a job. You are not entitled to have the coffee shop keep your favorite muffin in stock. You are not entitled to loved ones. You are not entitled to your health. You are not entitled to a sunny day. You are not entitled to be alive. Every sunrise, every paycheck, every meal, every breath in your lungs is a blessing and a gift and a miracle and we forget that a million times every day. If we thought about it, really thought about it, we would be prostrate with joy that we are lucky enough to be conscious and mobile and seeing this beautiful world. But it’s hard to get the laundry done if you’re prostrate with joy. So mentally. We need to be mentally struck, a million times a day, by how insanely fortunate our lot in life is. Because it is. Be happier with the everyday. Be glad of ‘fine’. Stop waiting for unbelievable to be happy. Speak of remarkable things.
Stop being online.
Once you’re done here, of course. But seriously. Unplug. Go outside. Go to sleep. Go hug somebody. See green. Read a book. Make something. The more time staring at a screen, the less our bodies and brains work. The more time you spend online, the less time you spend doing anything. Know current events, understand what’s going on – then stop. You can’t ever catch up on the internet. Not possible. Remember real-life relationships. Catch up with them instead.
Stop. Just stop.
Get more sleep, more fresh air, more quiet. Less music, less chatter, less noise, less movement. Just less. Take a breather. Take several.
Stop ignoring your voice.
The one that tells you to speak up. The one that tells you that you’re in the wrong place. Listen to it and feel what you’re feeling.”Attempting to suppress emotional pain may paradoxically increase it. In contract, being accepting of pain, being willing to experience it without attempting to control it, has actually been found to decrease it.” The worst part of pain is the tension that it’ll worsen. It’s panic. Stop bottling up your pain and your fear and your voice. “Hurt people hurt people” – and if you stop hurting yourself you can stop other people hurting too.