Confronted with the opportunity to try something new, to accomplish something big, to tinker with something interesting, I am the kind of guy who likes to say: “Yeah, sure, bring it on!”
But as much as I’ve liked saying “yes” in the past few years, I’ve been making a concerted effort to temper that instinct with a healthy dose of realism. It’s not that I now enjoy doing and trying all of those things any less, but rather that I’ve come to value my own peace of mind a bit more.
What I’ve discovered, reluctantly, is that I can do a lot, but I can’t do it all. Every little thing — every exploration, every acquaintance, every goal — takes a little time. And time is the one thing we all have the same, limited amount of. So the fact is, whether or not we are aware of it in the moment, saying “yes” to one person, place or thing will generally necessitate saying “no” to another.
What experience has taught me is that these choices, tough as they are, are best made consciously. As much as I get a thrill out of each spontaneous “yes,” I don’t so much like the train wreck that occurs when all those “yeses” collide and become a tangle of messy reversals and negations. I don’t like it when my mental “in box“ is flooding with important messages and spilling over before I have a chance to read them. When I’ve got too many commitments, interests and intentions happening at once, the pleasure I can take in any one thing is reduced, and it becomes harder to discern which things really matter most.
The same thing goes for possessions:
It’s so easy to get caught up in a “see-want-buy” cycle that we almost entirely forget to take stock of and enjoy the things we have. We also forget how much upkeep and maintenance these things often demand. In truth, everything we own also owns a little piece of us. And when our homes and garages and closets get cramped with all our “wants,” we often end up feeling oppressed by the very things we once desired. We start wishing we had more space, less stagnation — an opportunity to clear the decks and start all over. But until we curb our tendencies to accumulate unnecessary things, we tend to repeat our mistakes.
Our chronic tendency toward overload also gets reflected in our bodies. When we’re stuck in this low, grinding gear, we tend to eat and drink too much and sleep too little. In an effort to blow off stress, we either push our exercise routines too hard or we slack off altogether. The result? A foggy mind and a tired, heavy body. Very often, I think, our desire to lose physical weight is an extension of our desire to shed the unwanted weight in our lives.
This “Lighten Up” issue of Experience Life is full of thought-provoking articles that invite you to examine what you’re putting into (and demanding from) your body, to question where you are putting your time and energy, to explore how you can lighten up various aspects of your life, your home and your spirit. I hope you’ll find, as I have, that lightening up gives you renewed joy and energy for the most important things in your life, including a clearer mind and more appreciation for the simple pleasures of spring.