Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Having it all, being it all, throwing it all away

If you ask someone what they've been up to, generally the answer is "Busy, just so busy." Every bloody magazine article you read talks about our 'busy lives'. It seems like if you're not busy you're not succeeding or achieving. You're just wasting time, not being busy.

I don't think that being busy is new. I think people since the dawn of time have been busy. I'm sure the caveman was busy clubbing wooly mammoths. I doubt he was sitting round in the cave staring at his toes. Fast forward a few million years and I think of my great grandmother. Keeping a tribe of kids, no electricity, washing clothes in a copper, looking after a farm. I'm sure she was pretty busy.

I think the thing these days is not that we're busy, but that we're complicated. We have such big expectations on ourselves that we have to do it all, be it all. Not just women, but everyone.

We need to have a job, a career, that defines us, that we need to work hard at. A job that fulfills and satisfies us. A job that pays well. We need that job to pay for our homes and lifestyles.

We need relationships. Not just any old relationships. We have to have deep relationships, satisfying relationships. We have to make sure all our relationships tick all the boxes. Our wives and husbands are supposed to fulfill us mentally, emotionally, physically. Our friends should also be strong, deep connections. Are we spending enough time as a family, one-on-one with our kids, one-on-one with our spouse, time on our own?

We have children that we have to raise well. Make sure they attend the right school. Make sure they take part in the right activities. Make sure they develop all the right skills - gross motor, fine motor, are both sides of their brains being 'activated', etc, etc. Are they emotionally balanced? Do they associate in the right circles? Are they being exposed to the right kind of music, literature. Are we giving them too much freedom? Not enough? Are we their parent or their friend? Are we authoritarians or should they be able to speak openly to us?

Do we have a healthy life. Do we exercise? Are we doing weight-bearing exercise, cardio, stretching? Are we exercising at the right time of day? Are we eating healthily? Are we eating too much fat? Is it saturated fats? Trans fats? Good or bad cholesterol? Are we eating enough vegetables? Are they organic? Have the been grown overseas? Locally? More than 100km from our homes?
Are we mindful when we eat? Do we make sure we enjoy every mouthful? What if I have a bit of chocolate? Is it Fair Trade chocolate? Is it dark chocolate filled with antioxidants? Will it expand my muffin top?

Do you make sure you keep up with current affairs, but not the trashy current affairs. Do you make sure you read about all the human tragedies not just the glossy popular ones. Are you reading good literature to expand your mind. Do you go to an art gallery. Listen to good music. Do you make sure you go and hear the important people speak or the lesser known performers?

Do you ensure your spiritual life is kept in check? Of course, you just can't go to the local church or follow the faith your parents did. We need to explore, research, meditate, look deep inside ourselves for answers. Don't even think of relying on the word of a priest, nun, rabbi, monk. You have to read and study for yourself. Find your own special spirituality.

Now, that house you've been working so hard for, is it filled with beautiful objects and the latest gadgets? Everyone has them, so you should too. Of course, you can't live without the new iPad and iPhone. A TV? The biggest of course. Just don't spend too much time watching it. Also make sure not too much water or energy was used to produce them. Or that it has a large carbon footprint. Or that it was made in a factory in China where the employees are mistreated.

Feeling a bit tired? Time for a holiday. Overseas or somewhere exotic and make sure you're doing something or learning something or helping someone. Don't do something touristy, go off the beaten track.

Your clothes must be up-to-date with the right labels. They have to suit you, suit the situation. You must have the right hair, the right make up and the right body (yes, even the guys).

Are you saving money? Are you putting enough into your super? Do you spend too much? Do you spend on the right things? Are you investing? What about insurance? Planning? Tax minimisation?

Ridiculous? Complicated? Yes, without doubt. Though we put pressure on ourselves to do all these things, be all these things, worry about all these things. There is so much pressure to 'be happy'. Improve yourself. Improve your life. So much pressure that if we don't feel we achieve this we're failures. If we don't have a perfect job, a perfect relationship, a perfect family, we're not good enough. Self-help, self-improvement, it's exhausting. You can't open a newspaper or magazine without being told how to improve ourselves, our lives and find happiness.

The irony is we're more stressed, more anxious, more depressed, committing suicide more often than ever before.

Is it failure to accept and be happy with the imperfect? Or do we simply have too much time on our hands?


  1. A great and very thought provoking post. I tend to agree, we've just swapped one type of busy our grandparents had (hand washing clothes, growing and cooking our own food etc) to a new kind of busy. One that requires high paying jobs to afford all the kids activities, special gadgets that 'save time' and the lifestyle - be it fancy car, fancy house, fancy holidays, or even fancy private schools. And, as you imply, we probably aren't any happier for it.

  2. Yes! This is something that's been on my mind for awhile. I can't stand it when I ask someone how they're going and then they proceed to tell me just how busy they are. I don't know ANYONE who isn't busy - we all are! From SAHMs to grandparents - even school kids are busy! But you're right, what's the price we're paying for all the drama in our lives?!

  3. I love this. It is so so true. Instead of making OURSELVES happy, we are defining our happiness on what other's may think of us. On being perceived to be the best ALL of the time and turning everything into a competition. That's no fun!
    My wish is for people to realise that happiness is as unique as every flower. There are no two the same, and your happiness is different from everyone elses. We need to accept life and its imperfections, and that there is so much more to it than owning the best of the best, looking the best, acting the best, thinking the best. If we cast away other's opinions would we be happy where we are right now?

  4. friggin brilliant rin! I totally agree... We are told to want it all! But what does that mean? entail? and destroy? I have a simple life and I tell myself to speed up, get better, want more! Why do I do that to myself? ah the new global society... its a grand thing x

  5. I just stumbled across your blog, after stumbling across another who linked to you! Anyway, your post struck such a chord with me, I have actually sent it to my husband. We have been driving ourselves mad trying to work out the best behaviour management strategies for our 2 year old. Seriously, as I type that I realise how bloody ridiculous we are being.

    So thanks. I'll be back to read again!


  6. I enjoyed reading this post very much! They are oh so true! Now I'm busy de-cluttering all those complications off my mind.

  7. Great post hun. I completely agree with what you're saying.

    My wants and needs change so often, and I know I'd love to make some drastic changes in my life soon. But often I'm scared to take the leap. Fear of being different, of what family and friends will think, fear it won't work and I'll feel like a failure...

    I think I'd like to move to Pandora (in Avatar) and live like the primitive village folk. With glowing bugs and memories embedded in tree roots, haha.

  8. Wow, I'm exhausted just reading your post. But it really puts things into perspective. Our lives are complex and complicated and perhaps, a set up for failure. The older I get, the less I want of material things and recognition and more I want simply love, peace and the happy family.

  9. AWESOME post Corinne, I am sharing. x

  10. What a great post Corinne. It is so so true about our society today. Actually, reading through your post, I found myself reading quicker and quicker, the further down I got... so when I reached the end, I was exhausted, hehehe. Not sure if that was the intention, but it definitely had that effect on me.
    I also had the tune to Billy Joel's "We didn't start the fire" in the back of my mind while I was reading... I think these may just be the lyrics to a modern day hit ;o)

  11. Incredibly thought provoking post and so spot on. Do you mind if I link to this in my next post? Cheers, Wendy

  12. So very true! I was stressed just reading your post lol having one of those days I think! But getting back to blog reading is helping...blogging has to be one of the best things ever, even if some people may consider it as me wasting my time and sharing private stuff with the world...I like to write so I'm going to write more :)

  13. This is such a timely post for me (and I am weekend rewinding Oct 2011!). I have recently stopped and taken stock of my life and decided that having it all isn't worth it. I just want to remember the tiny moments, the worthwhile moments and live authentically.
    Small change by small change is what it takes and the journey so far is so worth it.
    Lovely post and so, so true.

  14. I was starting to feel a little stressed reading your post! Hahaha...but you're so right. Aren't we supposed to be advancing and creating technology that makes our lives EASIER? Yet we seem to find other things and other questions to fill the gaps left in our lives.
    Sigh. I wish I could stop worrying about MY muffin top.
    Visiting from the rewind.


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