Your Best Self

If you could be better than you are today, would you do it? Would you try to be a faster, stronger, and all around better person if giving the opportunity to transform?

Of course you would. Because that’s the human condition. We all want to be better than we are. Why else would we get up in the morning but to see what we could accomplish?

Now, what if I told you that to achieve this better self you had to give up something incredibly vital to you. Would you still do it?

Consider this, for example. You want to get healthy. Fine. So, you go to the gym a bunch of times during the week and you eat healthy and you feel great. But all that gym time cuts into your sleep so you’re staying in on weekends and not seeing your friends or grabbing dinner with them because they eat garbage. What do you do then? Stay the course, and leave your friends? Were they ever your friends if they let you just prioritize the gym over them? Or do you ditch the new you?

I don’t know the answer here. But my guess is that the thing you want most is your new priority. If that’s hanging out with your friends or the gym or whatever. Whatever you can’t live without should be your priority, even if that means you can’t be your best self. 

Because, yes, you can pressure carbon into diamonds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. 

Priorities 

There is nothing more important than having your priorities straight. This helps you to make important decisions, take action, and generally live your life. 

But what happens when your priorities clash with each other? What if I want to be productive and sleep? What if I want a high paying job and time for a hobby? What if I want to eat and swim right after? 

Well, that’s certainly more complicated. But it can be done. If you have your priorities straight. 

Listen, you’re going to have to pick and choose initially. Once you have a routine down with one, you can shoot for the other. For example, you can be productive until you have a routine. Then, when you feel ready, try to challenge yourself to be productive some days and to sleep other days. But you’re going to have to prioritize one over the other at first. 

There’s no such thing as multitasking and there’s no such thing as multiprioritizing. You have to pick something for it to be number one, and then you can allow everything else to fall into line. 

But get everything straight. If you want to be skinny, eating cookies is no longer your priority. If you want good grades, watching tv instead of studying is no longer your priority. If you want to be happier, then choosing anything that doesn’t make you so is no longer your priority. 

So, figure out what you want and put it as #1. (Besides reading this blog. We both know that’s your main priority). 

My Theory about Time

Do you ever feel that time could race a snail to the finish line and lose? Do you ever feel like if there were 25 hours in a day you would be able to get everything done? And when Friday rolls around, do you stare at the clock, willing it to go faster? And what about Sunday night, do you ask time to take it easy?

I don’t think anyone at any given moment is really pleased with how time is going. We want it to stop and slow down and speed up, sometimes all at once. And we wonder why it doesn’t, why it disobeys.

My theory is that it does listen to us. That we absolutely have power over the time we have. We can make the second hand tick faster with our desires alone. And we can pause the timer in order to appreciate what we have.

But whatever you want the clock to do, there is someone, actually lots of someones, who want it do the opposite. If you are waiting for the weekend, there is someone out there who is praying the week lasts a little longer. When you are looking for the morning so that you can see the sunrise, someone is praying for the night when they can lay with their lover. When you are counting down the moments until a certain event, there is someone who is counting the last minutes of his or her life, wishing that they had more.

So, my idea is that we are able to control the clock. But since there are so many people pushing back against what we may want, time stays confined to 60 seconds to a minute and 60 minutes to an hour, and so on. And when it flies? And when it is slower than molasses? That’s when we’re not actually thinking about time. We’re thinking about what we’re doing or what we could be doing. We’ve stopped fighting so hard against time.

The point is that even though we may be able to control time (maybe), we need to be able to live in the moment too. If my theory is correct, we need to all stop wasting so much energy trying to push the clock forward or backward. We can only do what we will with the time we’re given, no matter how fast or slow it goes.

An Extra Set of Hands

I don’t have to tell you that there is only one of you.

You already knew that. Because you need to be in about seven different places at the same time, and it’s abundantly clear that there isn’t enough of you.

When you’re here, you’re thinking about being there. You’re planning to run errands tomorrow when you’re doing them today. You’re wondering when you’re going to get time for yourself when you’re at the gym, driving to soccer practice, picking up dinner, doing homework, doing your kid’s homework, reading a book club book, writing a book, cleaning the house…well, you get it.

You think, could I at least get an extra set of hands here? At least then I could text and cook a meal at the same time. And maybe scratch my nose. Why does it get itchy when I am making curry?

While that would be great (I mean, more curry for everyone), there’s a reason that we don’t have more hands or more of ourselves. No, it’s not because the science hasn’t caught up yet (it has). And no, it’s not because it would be ethically wrong to experiment on humans (Orphan Black makes sure we know that this isn’t the issue here.)

It’s because there is only supposed to be one of you. You are supposed to only be one individual person so that you can recognize when things are getting to be too much. If you were able to handle everything that was ever thrown at you, you wouldn’t grow. You wouldn’t be challenged. You wouldn’t even bat an eye over the zombie/cockroach apocalypse.  Study for an anatomy exam? Done. Cardiac surgery? No problem. Fly a plane? I have to be better than the pilots I’ve seen in the news lately!

You would just catch up with it all, thanks to your other set of hands, on your body or on a clone’s body. Nothing would ever be enough because you would never be able to give enough. And then you would truly be worn out.

So, the next time you feel like cloning yourself so that you can get more done, try stepping back for a moment. Actually, step so far back that you take yourself into another room. Once there, try to find a blanket, wrap yourself in it, and take a deep breath. Everything is going to be okay not only because you are one person but specifically because you are you.

Whatever Helps You to Sleep at Night

At first, the title of this blog post seems really dismissive. Like, that sounds great. You do you. Whatever you need to make your eyes close and fall asleep when you have to. (Basically, whatever you need to shut up is totally yours.)

Except, if you look closer and harder, you will realize that, quite simply, that this is the key to life.

You see, I’m sure you’ll be able to recognize the following situation: you slip into some comfortable clothes at the end of the day. Then you jump into bed, get out again to turn off the light that you have forgotten to flick off, and then jump back in. You sort of rub your face on the pillows and pull the sheets just under your chin. Depending on your sleeping persuasion, you then curl into a ball, lie on your back to align your organs, or hike one knee over your shoulder and spread out as far as possible with your tongue hanging out. You count sheep, or fall directly asleep. Riding a wave of your own breathing, no matter how frenzied or smooth.

Until.

You think of something that you could have done during the day. You realize that there was something you could have finished, something you could have started. Something that you could have spent more time on, but you didn’t.

And for whatever reason that is, you didn’t. You were too tired. You had too many things to do. You ran late for some things, were too early for others. You had to put even more others above your own needs and wants.

Yet, here you are, sleepless and incomplete. Hoping beyond hope that you will get a “tomorrow” so that you can finish more things. But of course, not everything. There’s no way to finish everything.

So, my point is that you have to pick and choose. You will always have to do that. But in order to feel complete, you have to stop looking at your priorities as a deadline-driven list. Instead, you need to decide what will help you to sleep at night. Whether that means skipping the gym and going shopping or practicing yoga when you’d rather just fall asleep. At the literal end of the day, you will have to realize that whatever helps you to roll over and dream is better than torturing yourself with a living nightmare.

And at the end of your life, there is nothing more satisfying than a job well done for a long night’s sleep.

Killing One Bird with Two Stones

Humans are pretty fantastic.

We can surf the Internet on our computer and make calls on our cell phones at the same time. We can run on a treadmill and watch television. Some of us (the chosen few) can even drink a beverage and walk down the street.

But, like normal humans, we want more.

We would all sleep with our eyes open if there was a way to get the rest we needed while being able to knit a scarf. In fact, I actually saw someone applying foundation at a red light the other day. With a brush and everything. I wonder if she was trying to do the mortician’s job for them by not paying attention to driving and risking her life, but putting on her make-up anyway.

Of course, I won’t pretend that I am above this type of behavior. I am currently talking to you and watching television. After all, I am a child of this multitasking generation. In my head, I am killing two birds with one stone.

But which is it? Am I watching television? Or am I typing out a blog post?

The reality is I am doing neither. In order to save time, I have chosen to type my blog post while trying to catch up on a television show. But my mind is split: one half is firmly on the plot while the other is firmly on the blog. Thus, I am being productive in neither task because I am always not paying attention to one or the other. I am actually killing one bird with two stones. (If you will pardon the cruel and crude adage. No birds were actually harmed in the making of this blog post.)

And it makes sense. Think about a juggler with three balls. (Or chainsaws, or batons on fire, whatever, pick your poison). Now, imagine that this man or woman starts to juggle whatever he or she is to juggle. If you watch closely enough in your mind’s eye, you will see that he or she is not holding on to any one ball, chainsaw, or baton for longer than a second. This is what happens when you try to multitask. Your mind is a sieve; it only holds on to something as long as it doesn’t slip out of the holes.

But you argue, I can listen to music and study at the same time! or I can cook two different things simultaneously. And I don’t doubt that, except for the fact that I doubt it.

You see, you aren’t really listening to music. You’re studying, and your brain registers the music in the background. Or you are listening to music, hearing the lyrics and notes. And you are just moving your eyes along, taking in nothing. And then, if you are cooking two things at once, it is only because one of those things does not require your full attention. You can set the timer and work on something else while the water boils. That is hardly multitasking. It’s more like babysitting pasta.

I know, I know, it is a hard truth to recognize that we can’t squeeze every drop out of every moment of our every day. It’s hard to reconcile that we can’t do more to fill our lives with the time that we have. But if we measure out our time carefully on this Earth, if we sip on life instead of taking large gulps, we will not want for another second. We will be able to truly multitask: we will be able to taste and savor life simultaneously.

Priorities.

If anyone tells you that you don’t have yours in order, then they’ve never had priorities before.

(Of course, I obviously don’t have mine in order because I did not post over the weekend like I said I would. I would say that I’m sorry, but I’m sure everyone has lost faith in me and does not believe a word that comes out of my lying mouth. But I am sorry.)

But like I said. People who say you need to have your priorities in order have never had them. Maybe the saying should go something like, you need to wrangle your priorities into order. Because priorities are like wild stallions. Or like really ornery sled dogs. If they didn’t have their harnesses on, they would continue to jockey for position.

And really, how do you order your priorities when they are constantly changing? How much weight do you give everything? How do you expect me to choose between this and this? And this and this? What if I make the wrong decision? Uhm…okay, I’m just going to take a nap.

The truth is it’s hard sometimes. What feels good isn’t always going to be good down the road. And what’s comfortable will leave you lazy and regretful. The worst is when everything seems incredibly clear just to be muddied by a recent storm.

And I’m sorry that I can’t be more decisive for you. I can’t tell you what to do. I can’t even tell you what not to do. Because that’s for you to decide. But remember that everything should be flexible. If work/school needs to take a backseat to your mental health, then it should. If family needs to take the first spot then it should. If you need to focus on your work and block everyone out, you should. You shouldn’t list your priorities on ruled paper because that limits you. But you shouldn’t let others dictate what you should be doing either.

But you should also know that you are going to mess up. You are going to see something as important that could have been put on the back burner. You are going to forget something that was really important. Not because you are stupid or forgetful. You are human, and your perspective is your own. And you’re going to need to trust that what you’re doing is right at that exact moment.

So, you need to push yourself, of course. And you need to be gentle to yourself, of course. Because they call it a “happy” medium for a reason.