Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mental Clutter

As you can tell if you've been reading my blog lately, I've begun a quest to simplify my life, and things are going well. I'm gradually implementing routines and pracitices that are really working.

A lot of my focus so far has been on decluttering--getting rid of things that clutter up my house and office, and, therefore, my life. But yesterday's post about attitudes started me thinking about all the mental clutter in my life. Now, some of my mental clutter is being cleared up by a few of my new practices and routines (which I'll post about later). For instance, making lists takes things off my mind and puts them on paper. But the kind of clutter I'm talking about now is the mental clutter caused by improper attitudes towards myself.

As I wrote earlier, I'm a perfectionist. So, for some weird reason, there are all these impossibly high standards and goals floating around in my brain that really don't apply to me or make no logical sense whatsoever, but I still hold on to them, thinking I need to do more, be more, try harder, change this, change that, and finally, and only then, will I be acceptable and have a wonderful life.

You know what? That's just crazy. And it adds unnecessary stress to my life. Now, I'm not talking about having reasonable goals or expecting to work hard and do my best. This is not a way to excuse myself from what needs to be done or ought to be done. It's the realization that who and what I am is okay and that I'm already living a wonderful life. For example, I'm never going to be an Olympic athlete or the women's front runner in the Boston Marathon. So, as long as I'm doing enough exercise to keep me fit and healthy, I shouldn't feel guilty that I'm not faster or stronger or that I don't work out for hours on end. Enough is enough. I'm never going to be one of those professors who's read everything written since the dawn of time, can quote almost every poem in both the British and American canons, and knows the definition to every literary term without even peeking at a dictionary. But I'm prepared for my classes, I'm a life-long learner, always reading and growing, and I have a life outside my job. That's enough. I don't need to look like someone else, or sound like someone else, or act like someone else, or dress like someone else to be happy and content.

Think about how much less stress we'd have if we'd just accept ourselves for who we actually are and appreciate the blessings in our own lives.

This might be the most succesful simplification strategy I've tried so far. I feel a post about authenticity coming up, but I've got to think about it a while.

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