My post on stress earlier this week has inspired a thought, thanks to a reader's comment. Stephanie wrote that a friend of hers made a list of all the things she loves to do (a pretty healthy list of various things). But to her surprise, when she actually looked at the list, her friend was struck by the realization that she never actually did any of those things.
I could be that person. And I'm betting so many of us could, too. I decided, for a moment, that I'd make a list of things I love to do, too. This way, once it's committed to paper, that'll spur me to do those things. Right?
What happened next was this: when I started to make the list (and saw how long it was getting and how long it's been since I've done any of those things), I started to feel stressed. Alas, that was not the point. After all, my quest is to be less stressed, not more. Stress takes a toll on the body, and just yesterday, I read this report – which is not surprising at all - that it leads to depression, (One recent statistic I read is that depression, known as the "common cold" of mental illness, affects upwards of 19 million Americans in any give one-year period.)
In trying to understand why so many of us don't do the things we love - I came up with a few possible reasons (feel free to add your own thoughts).
Maybe we are too afraid to do the things we love because we feel that's being too "indulgent"? Or perhaps we feel we are not worthy of them; after all, just who are we to deserve to take a day off from work and play instead/take a trip/splurge on a special dress/sit and do absolutely nothing? Or maybe it's as simple and practical as the fact that we don't choose to make the time to do the things we love because there are too many other things - like housework, working, making someone else happy, saying yes when you really want to say no – that crowd them out, making us feel resentful and conflicted?
As an aside, what do you think would happen if you made a list called "WHO do you love?" Chances are it would be also be a crowded list. But I have a feeling that it's easier – and less complicated - to make time for the people you love, whether it be through phone calls, emails, visits, once-a-year birthday cards, telepathic thoughts (it works for me – many times I'll be thinking about someone and lo-and-behold, I hear from them) - than it is to make time for the person you really need to love – You.
This Matters> I'm not sure I have the answer to this conundrum. Here's one possibility: how about not only making a list of – or giving thought to – what makes you happy, but also making one of what makes you unhappy. Then, for every unhappy item you manage to avoid/strike from your agenda, take something that makes you happy and reward yourself.
Workable? Or impossible? I'd love to know what you think.