I’ve long believed that every choice is both a yes and a no. For everything that I say yes to, I am saying no to something else. Everything that I say no to is a yes to a different choice. It’s always a trade-off.
I tend to go against the cultural norm by saying no to a lot of things that other people say yes to, but in every case, it is because I am saying yes to something that is more valuable to me (even though it doesn’t fit the “norm”).
One of those things is taking a hard look at what an idol really is, how we worship idols, and which idols show up in my own life. I’m discovering that idols don’t always look like I expect them to and that I am not always consciously aware of what I worship.
It’s precious to watch a young child (or a newborn animal) just learning to walk. They pull themselves up and stagger along on unsteady legs as they build their strength and learn to balance themselves upright. It often involves more than a few tumbles and moments of abrupt sitting down before their gait becomes natural and steady. And they must learn to walk before they learn to fun.
This process is not unlike my own process when it comes to learning a new way to approach life or replacing an unhelpful pattern with a new one. I begin practicing that new pattern (or new outlook) is unsteady ways that involve lots tumbles and shaky moments. Eventually, though, the new pattern becomes my new normal, and I can navigate it without effort.
I’m choosing self-care tonight and recycling a post a wrote for another blog back in November 2011. It was a very good reminder for me today on the cost of my choices.
I recently came across a post on Tyler Tervooren’s Advanced Riskology blog called Happiness for sale that suggests that we tend to sell our happiness all the time. I highly recommend reading his post because he clearly describes this phenomenon and the ways it shows up in our lives. He has a follow-up post called Happiness experiments: Tipping the scale towards joy that talks about how we can change our behavior to stop selling our happiness that is also worth reading.
But for those of you who aren’t convinced to go read it yourselves right this moment, let me summarize his basic premise. He starts with the idea that every decision we make has an opportunity cost; choosing one thing means we are giving up the opportunity to do something else with whatever you are spending on that choice. For example, the fact that I am choosing to write this blog post right now means I cannot spend this time reading a book or vacuuming the floor. Choosing to spend money on eating out for lunch every day means I don’t have that money to spend on other things (like books).
Therefore, every time we choose to do something that does not make us happy, we are choosing to sell our happiness in order to have that choice. Yes, you read that right: every time you choose to do something that makes you unhappy, you are choosing to sell your happiness. And for what? Is it worth it?
I’ve been considering a decision that I need to make over the last couple of days. This is a relatively small decision about the possibility of donating something for a silent auction for a fundraiser. The cause is one that I support, and I don’t mind the thought of donating something to help out.
The challenge is in choosing the right thing to donate. The friend who approached me about making a donation had one thing clearly in mind as a possible donation, but as I’ve sat with that idea, it feels pinched and closed to me, like a turtle shrinking back into its shell for protection. But I quickly thought of other things that I could donate that prompt an open, joyful response deep inside.
Several months ago, Seth Godin wrote a blog post on Association in his trademark style of short posts that pack a punch. (It’ll only take a few seconds to read it, and it’s worth it!)
As a creative, I think his point is particularly true. The people that we choose to associate with will powerfully influence the ideas that we encounter that will feed our own creative work. In addition, their attitudes toward creativity will make a difference in our own confidence (or lack of it) in engaging in creative work ourselves.
I’ve learned over the years that I have pretty strict requirements for the amount of rest, downtime, and self-care I need in order to maintain my mental, emotional, and physical health. Compared to most people, this is fairly narrow range of tolerance for extra doing, decreased sleep, or missed routines.
This week has been extra hectic and stressful just because of the confluence of too many things all at once. I’ve been packing too much into my days, staying up too late at night, and skipping my morning pages some mornings to squeeze in a little extra rest. Missing my morning pages has left me feeling off-kilter during the day, which adds to the stress, and the lack of downtime and sleep has worn me down.