We humans are great at getting things done, accomplishing goals, and checking items off the to-do list. We hustle, work hard, and we’re always busy.
We put off the things we enjoy saying we’ll do them later “when things calm down.”
But life doesn’t work that way. Life is always happening. Things always need doing. And you can easily find yourself five or ten years down the road burnt out, wanting to escape your life, and wondering when the last time was that you did anything fun.
I’m assisting with a mindfulness course this semester, and in this week’s class, we did an exercise I think you might find eye-opening:
- Grab a piece of paper and a pen. You could do this as a thought exercise, but you’ll find it more powerful to see on paper.
- Write down all the activities you do in a typical day.
- Look at each item and ask yourself: “Does this nourish, energize, or center me?” If so, put a ‘+’ next to it. Then ask “Does this make me feel worn out, tense, or depleted?” and put a ‘-’ next to the ones that make you feel that way. Some items will be neutral, and you can give them a ‘0’. Some will depend on the day, so you can write ‘it depends’ next to those.
- Take in the whole list. Does it seem balanced between nourishing and depleting activities? Do you do at least one thing a day that nourishes you? Is there a way you can make the “it depends” activities more consistently nourishing?
This exercise is not meant as an opportunity to beat yourself up. Life can be so demanding and fast paced that sometimes we need to take a step back and look at what we’re doing and ask if this is the life we truly want.
So, when’s the last time you did something just for the pure joy of doing it? What are those things that nourish you?