Most people, including myself, measure days by what we get accomplished. I keep my ‘To-Do List’ in my daytimer (yes, I am old-fashioned and like to put pen to paper when I jot down all I need to get done in a day’s time). It’s the satisfaction of checking each item off; the more check marks, the better the day went. Many times, those things we get done bring us praise either intrinsically or from outside sources. Either way, we feel good. But then there are those days I call ‘Not So Good Days of Doing,’ when from the moment your feet hit the floor, you are already behind, possibly from being a bit over confident in squeezing 25 hours into 24. On those days, how do you handle the lack of check marks? I know if I have to write an errand or something I wanted to do on Monday on Tuesday, I tend to beat myself up. So it is safe to say that when I don’t get enough done, and many others join me in this boat, I didn’t do the day well enough, but is that a healthy and good way to measure life quality? The answer is ‘no.’
Recognizing an Unchecked List Isn’t the End of the World
What if you and I just ignored the urge to check out the check marks on our to-do lists at the end of the day? Just set the daytimer or iPhone notes aside and reflected on how we were that day…how we felt and how others seemed to feel around us rather than what we accomplished. Would the quality of the day and of our life change?
The best way to begin this life overhaul is with an ‘attitude of gratitude.’ When we blow through a day focused only on what we need to get done, we can miss the moments that touch our souls.
By taking a few minutes before heading off to work or taking the kids to school, to just ‘be’ you can set the tone for a calmer day. Five minutes with yourself, whether that is spent in prayer, meditation, or just watching the bird at the feeder, you focus on the world around you and the little things that make life the wonderful journey it is. After those few minutes, or longer if you have that luxury, do check-ins with yourself throughout the day just to keep your mind right. If you find yourself falling back into checking your list constantly, stop and reign in that habit. This isn’t easy at all, but the more you realize you are falling back into the ‘doing’ focus of the day and not the ‘being’ focus of the day, the more likely you are to be able to stay and reside longer in the ‘being.’
There’s More to the World Than What You Need to Do
Many therapists and psychologists suggest that we be mindful of the beauty around us. Acknowledge that you appreciate the birds, the daffodils blooming, and sunrise or sunset of the day. By taking in the beauty of the world around you, you are more likely to lower your blood pressure, breathe and calm your thoughts. Beyond maintaining an attitude of gratitude, you can also reach out to others, offering a kind word or support not because it was on a list, but because you were inclined to do so from your heart. Nothing makes you feel better than bringing a smile to someone else’s face. The server who waits on you at lunch may be battling many things in life, just like you, so just saying, ‘You’re doing a great job’ and leaving a dollar or two more in your tip can go a long way. And what exactly did that moment connecting with another human cost you? Five seconds and $2.00 to make another person’s day is a small investment with a huge return.
The Quality of Your Life Is Determined By Who You Are, Not By What You Accomplish
This change from ‘doing’ to ‘being’ won’t happen overnight, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Recognizing the problem is the first step to healing. The good news is, from that awareness, even if we slip, there is growth from the good days of being that helps us if we go back to doing. If you need a plan to get yourself on the path of being, there are a few universal suggestions…
The first step is to be more conscious, at day’s end, about how you are living your life, regardless of the things you do or do not get done. Reflect, learn and grow from the hours you experienced.
Next, well, you have to do something. This goes against everything written here, but you will have to do something by prioritize the living, being component of each day over the doing.
Finally, try writing a to-be list instead of that to-do list with things like:
I will be mindful. I will be happy. I will be loving. I will be calm. I will be healthy.
All will lead to you being awesome in mind, body, and spirit.