Do you ever look at the to-do list and wonder when it will all get done? Do you lay in bed with tired eyes, wishing for sleep, while your brain goes in circles about all the things that need to be accomplished? You’re not the only one. There are days when that hour in bed is the only time I have free to think. I lay there, digesting my day and planning tomorrow, knowing that I should be sleeping instead. Then my brain won’t turn off and I bury my head under the pillow, hoping it will block out my thoughts. It never seems to work. The harder I try to sleep the more it evades me.
Living life from a checklist can be very efficient. It can also turn you into a list-loving-Type-A personality who has to schedule in time to be sporadic. Yes, scheduling in sporadic events sort of defeats the whole purpose, but how else will you fit it in? That’s exactly what happened to me. I realized one day, as I was penciling in “time to have fun” and “time to relax” that I needed to ditch the planner, or at least reduce my obsession with it. My lovely planner, filled with notes and reminders, had taken over my life. It had started as a stress-reducing tool and turned into a stress-creating tool. It was time to take a step back and reevaluate my routine.
Everyone knows stress is bad, that it creates disease and wears down your mind, body and soul. The problem is that stress is so common today that if you’re not a stress basket, no one can relate to you. We go speeding on through our days thinking that we will find time to relax “tomorrow.” Well, that was 5 years ago and tomorrow still hasn’t arrived. We quietly sneak more into our days thinking that no one will notice, hoping to be more efficient and somehow discover time-travel or the 25th hour in a day.
We would all love to be stress free, but let’s be realistic here, people. Stress is not something we can zap away with our magic wands. Life happens and stress is part of it. However, we can control more than we think. The problem is that we don’t take ownership of our routine. Think about it, really think about it. How much ownership do you take of your routine? Do you say “I have to go to work today” or “I am choosing to go to work today?” You’re choosing to! You are choosing to get dressed and go to work so you can choose to live in a house instead of in a cardboard box. We have to take responsibility for our stressors in life. We are in control! It really isn’t much fun to have to do anything so here’s another thought; what if you started saying “I get to go to work today” instead? Doesn’t that sound much more exciting? It also allows you to stop being the victim of your schedule. You are not at the mercy of your job because you could walk in and quit at any moment. You are choosing to go to work, so why not make it more enjoyable? Kick the negative mindset to the curb and decide to take charge.
In choice lies our greatest power. Choice is the one thing we always have and yet it’s the first thing we ignore. We may not be able to control how people act at work or when the dog decides to throw up on the new rug but we can choose how to react and most of all, we can choose to hit the stop button. I know, you’re thinking well sure, that sounds great – on paper! It doesn’t work in the real world though! Well, I dare you to try it. Try hitting the stop button once in a while. Sit back sometime and look at what stresses you out. How can you change it? Do you hate your job? Great – now go look for a new one! Can’t find a new one? Then start finding ways to make this one more enjoyable. Wear mismatching socks every day and see who notices. Put ridiculous screen savers on your computer, or create themed days once a month. Find something that will make you laugh in the middle of the day when your cubicle mate does that thing that drives you crazy. Stop taking life so seriously and find ways to make it more fun. What if the dog throws up and for once instead of rushing over with the cleaner you grab the dog and go to the park for a picnic? I promise that throw up will still be there when you get back but you will feel a lot better about it after an afternoon in the sun with a good book.
Life is not so serious as we make it out to be. The purpose of life is to live it! So stop being at the mercy of your stressful routine. Take charge and be bad for once! Skip the things you’re “supposed” to do. Try deleting all those unread emails or taking a bubble bath instead of rushing through a shower. I guarantee you will be happier for it. Just remember that there is nothing in the world so important that you cannot take a 30 second break to breathe, center yourself and stick your tongue out at the world. You will come out laughing and hopefully remembering that life does not have to be so serious.
One of my favorite quotes: “Homes are for free expression, not good impression.” ~Unknown