"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The other day I had a fun thought -
What if I gave myself permission to just be who I am naturally inclined to be? Instead of always trying to talk myself out of it?
What if I changed my own story? What if, instead of filling my head and day with I Should's, I instead concentrate on finding more joy in my day?
It happened like this: A few weeks ago, on the morning that Chris would be starting his new (totally awesome, ridiculously cool) job, I got up super early to sneak out to Caribou to surprise Chris and Dax with their habitual Caribou favorites. Driving back to our place, I glanced at the gym that is part of our complex and briefly thought of all the things that would make me feel really good today: Some meditation time. Doing some yoga. Sweating it out on the treadmill while I listened to a new podcast.
Then, almost immediately, my "sensible, logical, practical" mind tried to talk me out of it. "You've got a lot of work to do. You probably don't have to time to do yoga." "Treadmill? You're supposed to be lifting weights." (It knows better than to argue about meditation, because that shit is not up for discussion.)
I realized that I do this a lot - automatically fill my day with lectures and task-mastering concerning the person I feel I should be (perfectly dressed and made up by 8, head down and working straight through from 9 to 5, eating dinner at 6, (an attempt at) going to bed by 10). So much so that it elbows out any room for finding new joy in my day. How boring, right?
And I do it to myself. Even though I've come pretty far in the whole lifestyle design gig, I still sometimes believe that old story: That I'm not really productive if I'm not doing X,Y, and Z. That doing anything else other than the prescribed protocol is a waste of time. That work comes first, all the time. That if I'm doing something I want to be doing, it probably means I'm not doing something I'm supposed to be doing.
And sometimes, I think it's harder when you're a free agent, which is just so ironic. I got out of a company atmosphere because I wanted more control of my time and overall life direction. But now that I don't have someone looking over my shoulder every five minutes or breathing down my neck to get my status report in, I feel like I gotta constantly crack the whip on myself (because I somehow feel that if I don't, I'll immediately turn into an obese, slovenly, homeless bag lady). And that mentality goes against every reason why I struck out on my own in the first place!
So I'm changing the story.
Maybe it is okay for me to "go to work" (aka, write at my desk) all day in gym clothes. Maybe I don't have to go to bed at 10 to be a productive, responsible person. If I want to work out on the treadmill today because that's what my body feels like doing, maybe that's better than forcing my body to lift weights.
I think a lot of us, including me, feel that if we let ourselves do the things that feel easy and great, it will lead us entirely off the rails (the 60's come to mind). And our Inner Adult loves to counter that stuff with "Life isn't supposed to be fun, all the time." Why the fuck not? Godammit, we only have so many days in our lives. And I, for one, am done with talking myself out of going for a walk or meeting a friend for coffee because I *should* be in front of my computer instead. Discipline is great and all, but I'm starting to see that the reason why it's not successful sometimes is because we do it in a way that fucking sucks. The two things I am most disciplined about in my life (meditation every morning and night, and writing something - anything! - every single day, not matter what) are constant daily patterns because they are things that bring me joy and add energy to my life. And even though my life is immeasurably better for my discipline in those areas, it doesn't feel like task-mastering. I don't have to talk myself into doing it. It's so joyful that if it almost feels as if I'm getting away with something. To feel so gleeful about doing something that's also so good for me...why not try to uncover that formula for every other area of my life?
So I'm issuing a challenge to myself, and you can take it up if you want, too. I'm giving myself permission to just be who I am naturally inclined to be. And taking joy in it. Instead of trying to constantly talk myself out of the joyful inclination in favor of the I Shoulds, I'm going to give myself those little gifts of magic, every day. If I feel better working in my gym clothes rather than a perfectly-stylized outfit, I'm going to tell that Real Housewives of Orange County voice in my head (she sounds a lot like Alexis. How many hours in a day does it take for that chick to get ready?! Does she get up at 4 AM every day? Because, really - when she showed up at the airport for their trip to Costa Rica, you gotta know that girl was in the shower at 2 AM so she could look that way for their so-early-it's-still-dark-out flight) to shut the hell up and embrace the comfort and stretch of yoga pants. AND! Revel in the luxury that I get to choose that.
The trick is to listen to the natural inclination. See where it leads. If it leads to a place that brings more joy and makes those everyday tasks and life-affirming goals more joyful - so fun and easy that it almost feels like I'm getting away with something - then I'm adding it to my new story. The moment you change your mind, you change your life. And Emerson's got it right (he's kind of a smart fellow, yeah?) - there's no reason why every day can't be the best day of the year.