Yesterday, I was working from home when I received a Groupon email. It was advertising a highly discounted, two month membership to a local gym. Since I have been feeling especially disappointed lately with the 20+ post-preggo pounds that I still haven’t shed (three years later), and my general lack of activity, I clicked on it. But as my mouse hovered over the “buy now” button, I spotted the candy-covered gingerbread house that my kids and I made for Christmas, perched nicely on the counter, just five feet away. My eyes darted from the frosting and gumdrops, to the fit, smiling, six-packed lady on my screen. “Sweet, cookie goodness now, and the hope of a tighter ass in two months,” I thought. So, I went for it. I grabbed a giant chunk of gingerbread roof and got ready to make yet another New Years promise to get in shape. But just as I was typing in my billing info, I stopped, and a single, clarifying thought entered my mind.
Do I really want to do this?
I hate the gym. While I thoroughly enjoy being active, I have always hated going to the gym. But, it seems the vast majority of women I know maintain a regular fitness regimen, which revolves around a) running, or b) the gym, or c) a combination of both. So, even though I despise both running AND going to the gym, I am constantly telling myself that I should really start doing one or both of those activities, and then feeling disappointed in myself that I couldn’t muster up the motivation to do it. It is a vicious cycle and it only exists to make me miserable.
So yesterday, I put an end to it. And in that moment, I also made my resolution for the coming year: to do things that I want to do, that I know will make me happy.
Now, I know many people would say that is impossible. One friend of mine said that if that was her resolution, she’d be living in a dumpster by 5pm. But I don’t mean that I am planning on shirking everyday responsibilities like work, family, household chores, etc. What I do mean is that I am going to be more mindful about my choices, and focus on doing things that I really want, and not what I think I should do.
Here’s what I mean:
Work. Do I love to work? Not really. But I need to work to afford the lifestyle that I want. However, I can choose where I work, and what I do. And those choices should be based on what I really want to do. I have spent too much of my working life doing jobs that I didn’t love, only because they offered a more prestigious title or a higher salary. If I put all of that aside, and just think about what I would enjoy doing, there is a chance that it would look very different. And since I spend more time working than anything else in my life, I owe it to myself to think carefully about my choices.
Cleaning. Do I love to do housework? Not even a little. But, I know that the result of the housework is a feeling that there is a sense of calm and order in my life. And that makes me happy. And the process of housework is a cathartic one for me. But, does nagging my family to adhere to the same level of neatness that I prefer make me happy? Definitely not. So, perhaps this year I will choose to nag less, and lower my standards. Or get a maid.
There are lots of other things to consider, from the amount of time I spend with my friends and family, to how I choose to spend my money, to where we choose to live. If you think about it, it is amazing how many things in life we choose to do without thinking about why we are making that choice. From the activities we put our kids into, to the schools we choose for them, to the car we choose to buy, to the vacations we take. Are we choosing these things because they really make us happy? Or is it because everyone knows that school is the “prestigious one”, or everyone goes away for Spring Break, so we should too?
I’m not striving for a perfectly blissfully happy existence. In fact, I think being blissfully happy would be downright boring. Instead, I want to work toward a more mindful life. I don’t want to spend time, money, or sentiments frivolously. Instead, I want to make thoughtful choices that appeal to my true self, and not to some image of who I think I should be.
Wish me luck!