Is your busy stressed out life sucking the joy from your life?

Written by: Donna Hutchinson

Its eleven thirty and you are absolutely worn out. You’ve had yet another busy day of packing the kids lunches, getting them off to school, laundry, dishes, checking email, ironing, working, meetings, returning phones calls, checking email, soccer practice, making dinner, checking more email, helping the kids with homework, sixty minutes at spin class, walking Fifi the dog and finally spending an hour of quality time with your partner and by the way, you have a headache. You barely touched your to-do list and even before you hit the pillow you are thinking about what has to get done tomorrow. You attempt to sleep but your mind continues to race with things that need to be taken care of and in five short hours your day starts again.

How many of us can relate to being this busy or even busier most of the time? Being chronically sleep deprived with a brain that just won’t quit? Ask a busy person to stop and just sit for a few minutes and observe what happens. At first, they will sit quietly but then you can start to see them fidget and it’s as though you can start to hear the thoughts racing through their head. They can’t just sit and be. I am reminded of a scene from Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts when she stayts at an ashram in India. She sits for the first time in the meditation cave and her thoughts wouldn’t stop. She keeps looking at the clock, a fly starts to buzz around her, the sound of the clock ticking becomes louder in her ears. What felt like hours turns out to be just minutes and she gets up and walks out. This is what happen to a busy person when their minds won’t slow down because it’s busy planning what’s coming next, the grocery list and a zillion other non-essential things that must get done or the planet will blow up.

Busyness can really keep up from enjoying life because it robs us of quality time with our family, friends and more importantly ourselves. When life gets too busy and we don’t take the time to just sit back and relax, precious memories and moments can be lost. Your kids don’t need to be in soccer, piano, learn a second language and violin lessons all on a Monday. You don’t need to take on fifty million projects or say yes to everything. It’s absolutely okay to take a nap during the day or have a lazy Sunday morning with breakfast in bed. This is something I have actually had to teach myself because my days used to start at 4:30am and end at 9:30pm. I never had a lazy, pyjama day with breakfast in bed on a Sunday morning. Just a year ago that was completely unheard of for me to do. But you know what, those things are awesome and slowing down means you actually have the time to enjoy your life instead of just zipping through it.

Adding to our already stressed out lives is this belief that we have to get it all perfect, be perfect so that life can turn out perfect. When someone says they are a perfectionist we revere them for all that they can get done and admire them because they are so productive. We sometimes wish we could be more like them because on the surface they seem to be holding it all together like some sort of super hero. What a load of crap! What they really are is a recipe for burn-out, mental breakdown and anti-depressants.

The drive to be perfect is a one way street to unhappiness, discontent and a joyless life. There is no such thing as perfect because as humans we are a delightfully imperfect. It’s what makes us human and by the way a lot more interesting. I used to be a perfectionist. Everything in my home, at the office and my life needed to be just perfect and I worked hard at keeping it that way. Even in school I had to have perfect grades otherwise I felt I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t measure up.

My perfectionist tendencies led me to compare myself to others and I always came up short. How joyful is that. Being a perfectionist didn’t allow me to just be me or give me joy in the things that I did accomplish. I always felt like I was never smart enough, pretty enough or talented enough. What changed for me was the concept of the pursuit of mastery.  Mastery comes with a lifetime of learning and practice, and there is no end. It’s a constant state of learning and understanding that what you know and do today is good enough. If I make a mistake I learn from it and move on. If I am content that I’ve given my best then that’s good enough. I understand that not all things turn out the way you expect and that’s okay. I’m just as flawed as the next person and I accept myself and others just the way they are.

Busyness and perfectionism can take away from the joyfulness of your life. Pay attention to why you have a need to be so busy all the time or why you feel like everything has to be perfect. Maybe even take this Sunday off, hang around in your jammies and enjoy a lazy day with the people you love.