Peace of Mind

by mollykl

I make lists. Oh boy do I make lists. You can tell when I’m really stressed because I will have a book of lists – this year I’ve got a section of my Filofax for my lists; in the past I’ve used Moleskin notebooks. I’m actually so addicted to lists that I make lists for having fun. Every year for my vacation, when I do actually take vacation, I make a list of the things I’m going to do. It’s usually along the lines of “make a new recipe” “read three books” “learn how to do one new thing”. Nothing oppressive there, no pressure, just a list, and I’ll say, in the past, it’s been quite a bit of fun.

If you know me you know I’m not really the spontaneous fun kind of girl. Ok, I’ll admit it – I’m really kind of boring. (My new eye doctor this week asked what I like to do for fun and I replied, “Reading and fishing” and then realized, yep, that’s about it). That lack of laissez faire attitude is why I rely on lists.

This spring break I decided to do thing a little differently. There was no mater list, not of recipes to be attempted, books to be read, trails to be hiked. Nothing, nada, zip. Every morning I woke up and didn’t think of what I needed to cross off, I just,well, woke up. Made my coffee, sat down with a book while son j played video games. Ate breakfast. Son j and I didn’t do the “well, what should we do?” every morning – we just did what we did and let the day unfold. I worked really hard at saying “Yes” as much as possible. “You want to play video games the entire day?” well, it’s vacation, so…yes.

There’s been a lot of talk lately on healthy living websites about being productive at work. Turns out being happy isn’t a result of your success at work, but rather it’s the other way around. Being happy is good for you, apparently. You work better, you work smarter. As much as I’ve enjoyed past vacations this one has been eye opening. It’s been so truly restful and stress-free (even though as I write this I have a cold, 2 days from going back to work. At least it’s a good reason to lay on the couch and watch Iron Man). Not having a results-driven vacation has left me with lower blood pressure, a really happy kid who still likes me, and I still managed to read 10 books in 8 days.

Before the advent of social media we only had advertising tell us what we were supposed to want and envy; now we have Facebook and Instagram. We see our friends and neighbors with perfect work and home lives. Isn’t that a conundrum? We can’t succeed unless we’re happy, but we’re told we can’t be happy unless we succeed…more than the people around us. Competition is healthy, but obsessing on it is not.

The words to the Boston song are correct: “all I want is to find my peace of mind” and I’ll take it day by day with a list or without.