How to make time for what is most important.

Oct 20, 2017

I am writing this at 11.26 am. So far the only useful things I did today were having breakfast, taking a shower, feeding the chickens, putting out the garbage and making a dentist appointment. I've been up since 7.15 and I honestly can not tell you where the rest of the four hours and 11 mins I've been up today have gone. So no, I'm not what you'd call a great time manager. Nor do I generally have any idea about what is most important to me. Even merely thinking about someting I would want to become good at or something I would want to achieve mostly makes me want to scream: STOP PRESSURING ME, after which I'd go hide under a blanket with a new episode of 'Dear White People'.

Like, duh! I started this blog as a celebration of lazyness. I wanted to create a place where everyone who felt that need, could escape from society's pressure to perform. A place where the notion of succes simply became irrelevant (because where's the pride in being succesful in the eyes of a society that fucking up the world anyway?!).

But at the same time I never really managed to shake the feeling that there had to be more to life than watching Netflix and reading books.
No matter how much I enjoy above activities, they can also give me the feeling that time is slipping through my fingers, without me using it to actually do or create something that I could be proud of. A long time I thought that little nagging voice was just the part of me that still felt like it needed to live up to other people's expectations. But then I read this book by called 'Happinesss', by Matthieu Ricard who is a neuroscientist turned buddhist monk. This book was an eye-opener on many levels, but one of the things it taught me is that constant distraction and entertainment is not going to make anyone happy in the long run, for as soon as 'the show stops', we are left alone, bored and feeling dissatisfied. Something anyone who's ever binge-watched a show can confirm I think! Instead of constantly trying to kill time, we should use the time we are given mindfully and make conscious choices about how we want to spend it, so that we are left feeling fulfilled and happy, instead of empty and languid.

Remains the big question: Sure, but how? How can we use time in a way that it will make us happy? The most obvious answer is: use it to pursue your passion! Do what you love most! Ah, yes, that. If only I knew, right?! (I mean, I'm just gonna go out on a wild guess and assume that I'm not the only person out there who has no real clue whatsoever about what their passion is. After all, we can't all be the type of person who always loved to dress up dolls and flip through their mother's fashion magazines and then became a fashion designer)

So, I saw this TED talk that I though was pretty on point on this topic. And the bottom line of is was actually: stop looking for your passion, just start doing things and passion will find you! So I've taken up that advice and started to practice handlettering. And though I don't really feel like I'm a natural or anything, it has been really fun to see myself make progress. And of course there are other things that I find important. Like blogging, making pretty pictures for instagram and practising yoga.

In other words, finding activities that bring us joy and fulfument might not be as difficult as we often tell ourselves. Finding the time and energy for them however can be the real bump in the carpet. I mean, who doesn't feel wiped out after an average workday. I know I do! But, hmm, I do seem to have managed to go to yoga class on Friday night for the last 5 weeks in a row. And let me tell you those Vinyasa's are intense okay?! Could it be that there's more energy inside us than we think? I think (and this brings me to another interesting TED Talk) that what it really boils down to is just setting our mind to it and making the right priorities. Every minute we spend is our choice! So why not try to make them into bits of joy instead of scrolling them away on our phone?

The annoying part is that that is actually quite hard. Somehow our brain often finds a way of talking us out of doing the thing that we know will make us happier in the end, because most of the times that is the option that is just a little more difficult, more challenging or with a more insecure outcome. Our brain doesn't like that. Our brain likes security and comfort. So when you want to start working on a blogpost, your brain is all like: "Why? Then we have to come up with creative stuff, put things out there in the open where other people can criticise them - or even worse, not even care to read them! No, no, best to stay put on the couch and have another look at other peoples lives on Facebook." Oh no wait, that's me!

But I know I'm not the only one struggling with this stuff. And if I didn't knew it already, it certainly became clear while watching this interview with Mel Robbins, author of the book The 5 Second Rule. It also became clear to me that the solution to this might be simpler than we think. The trick is basically to act upon your ideas as soon as they pop up, and don't give your brain a chance to advocate you out of it. The trick is to count from 5 to 1 and then just do it. Why? Because 5 seconds is about the the time your brain needs to come up with counter arguments, and by that time you're already busy doing whatever you wanted to do, but also because counting backwards gives your brain a goal, something to work toward to, to focus on, which will enhance your chances to actually become activatited (instead of remaining on that couch, right?).

Now, I'm still very new to this idea myself, so I can't really tell you yet if it's working for me, certainly not in the long run, but I'm certainly excited to try it out. I'm excited to start using my time mindfully and to savour every moment. I'm excited explore what is most important to me, simply by doing more things. I'm excited to let passion come and find me. Here we go, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!