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Today I offer a simple question to get your mind moving in different ways. We get so caught up in the ‘hamster wheel’ of life that we forget to ask ourselves are we living a life we want to be living? In this episode I explore the question…what does a good day look like?
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Hey everyone, excited to be back again. Today, we are going to be asking the question, what does a good day look like? I want to unpack that a little bit for you. I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately, and it’s such a simple question that has a lot of oomph to it. The reason I want to ask the question is in my tour for my book, The Happier Approach, and in working with clients and just talking to my friends and seeing it in my own life, we are so frenzied. I talked about this a little bit last episode of what I’ve been observing. We have so much coming at us and the number of people that have said to me, “I want some space. I want some time. I want some ability to be able to take an exhale and not have so much coming at us.”
I know, even though I don’t have kids myself, but I know May is a particularly hellish time when it comes to kids activities and getting ready, the end of the year and all that stuff coming at us. This might be a fun exercise as you’re running from thing to thing to thing with your kids, or it might just be something for you to ponder as we start the summer and hopefully a time where we can get some more space. Traditionally, summer is designed to give us a little more room to do our lives differently.
That was one reason I wanted to bring up this question. The other was the reason I think the question is so powerful because we spend so much time with our heads down, we’re on the hamster wheel, or we’re on the treadmill, and we don’t really look up and look around to ask, Is this what I want to be doing? Is this how I want to be spending my time? Who said I needed to be doing life THIS way? Even to unpack every little thing in your life, looking at different habits I have or different expectations I have for myself to say, who said you need to do that?
You know, last week I came out and said this podcast is just coming out twice a month because once a week is too much for me. I can’t come up with the content and record it and everything. I spent much of the first part of this year beating myself up for the fact that I wasn’t hitting the every week mark. Then, to say, well, you’re the one that said it had to come out every week. You’re putting that expectation on yourself. I think we do that in a lot of ways.
Obviously, there are things in our lives that we cannot control and there are expectations coming at us that we have to set up, but some of them I think we really can push back on. The idea of, what is a good day, questioning yourself that way, is being able to pull back and say, what is a good day? When I’ve asked this to clients, a lot of times, the answer that comes back involves a lot of space. But it also involves simple stuff of cooking breakfast with family or enjoying a home cooked meal or going out to dinner together or taking time to go to the park. Those little activities that are built in that allow for connection and space and time and fit their values.
In my world, everything goes back to values. If we’re going to decide on how we want to be spending our lives, we need to be looking at our overarching values. When we can see our overarching values, then we can pull stuff apart. I was at a book talk last week, with a group moms. They were talking about all the expectations they have for themselves and all the different ways that the school tries to stay in touch. There are websites and list serves and messages coming at them.
A couple of the Moms said, “Yeah, I unsubscribed from that service.I am not on that listserve.” The moms that said that said, “I can’t do it. I don’t have the time. It’s too much stuff coming at me.” The other moms who were still on the listserve, some of them had this aha of, “Oh, I didn’t realize I could get off the list serve. I didn’t realize I could say no to that.”
It was kind of this freeing moment for them to realize “Oh, I don’t have to be checking that listserve all the time. I don’t have to be keeping up with everyone on Facebook. I don’t have to be constantly making sure that my kids get a home cooked lunch every single day. That, I can shake this up a little bit. I can change the rules and still be within the parameters of society and my values.” That’s what I want you to be thinking about when you’re answering this question, what is a good day because it gets us back to basics.
It’s a different energy to that question than a question I used to ask my clients would be, “What does thriving look like to you? What is thriving?” That idea pulls you way out into this kind of surreal moment of what is thriving. The positive of that question, which if that question is easier to answer then go for it, is I can say, “What is thriving to me,” and I can be like, “oh, it’s having lots of space and lots of time with my family and tons of open time to think and write.” Then being able to bring that stuff, break that down a little bit smaller so that I can say, “Okay, in a thriving world I would have lots of space. Where in my life can I add more space? Where can I do that?” I can start deconstructing my life differently and looking to add in the stuff that I want to do to be thriving.
The reason I like the what is a good day question, is it doesn’t have to be this huge thriving, this gigantic goal. It’s just a good day. What’s a good day? For a lot of us, I would question if we’re having a lot of good days. I think we’re so busy on that treadmill and the hamster wheel that we aren’t checking in to say, “Is this the life I want to be living? Is this how I want to be spending my time? Do I want to be this engaged in every facet of my life? Do I want to be married to my to-do list? When I look at my to-do list, does it matter half of this stuff? Probably not.”
Having the honesty that, if I said to work, “You know what? Every day, I’m leaving at 5:00. I’m not staying after. I’m going to leave at 5:00 every day.” That may feel like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t possibly say that to them. They’re going to be mad at me.” Then, when you set that boundary that may be an aha to your boss to say, “Oh, okay, she’s going to leave at 5:00. That’s what she said. She’s going to get her work done because she’s going to be diligent about getting everything done in the timeframe because she’s leaving at 5:00.” That may change how he does it. They may not even have the expectation that you have to stay past 5:00. That could be all in your head. Now, it might not be, but it could be.
That’s where, just the idea of, I’ve been asking myself, “What rule can I bust here? What do I not have to keep doing the way I’ve always done it?” We get on these tracks of things; this is how I’ve always done it. This is the way I’ve always done it, instead of pulling back to be like, “Oh, well, does it matter if every Friday we do pizza night, or can we do Greek on Fridays?”
Then you can start asking yourself, “Oh, do I have to be at work every day by 8:00, or could I get in at 7:30 and leave at 4:30?” Or, “Do I have to make sure that I bring the coolest Pinterest latest snack to this classroom, or can I just be okay with boxed raisins?” ?Giving yourself some room to question how you’re living your life. What are the expectations you’re trying to strive for, and if you do want more space and time and more freedom, how can you add that to your life?
Now, something I’m going to talk about in a future episode is the idea that so many of my clients and myself included dream of lots of time to do whatever they wanted, and mountains of books and being able to read and being able to just think on things and journal, and have all this beautiful spa-like existence. When we get the time and when we have the time to do that, we don’t take the time to sit and read in the corner or go outside and drink our coffee sitting on the back porch. We fill it with more to do list stuff.
Even when we get a chance to have space and freedom, we don’t capitalize on it. That’s something I’m going to just tease you about that because that’s something I want you to be thinking about is, is that true for you and why might that be? Why is it that the one thing we say we crave more than anything else is also the one thing that we set up our lives not to have? We crave space and energy, and we tell everyone we want space and energy, but we don’t make it a priority. Why is that? Think about that. I’m going to be back to talk about that in a couple of weeks. I hope that gives you some food for thought in the, what does a good day look like, question.
Okay, that’s the show. Thanks for listening. The Happiness Hacks podcast comes out every week. If you have questions, please email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I love hearing from you. Or, you can follow me on Instagram @nancyjane_livehappier. Until next time here’s to living happier.
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