Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Having it all, being it all, throwing it all away
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?