As I mentioned, The Happiness Project inspired a whole bunch of thought, and although I’m still not committed to making a bunch of resolutions yet, a few significant happiness experiments stuck out in my mind. Today I wanted to explore the possibility of living a day in my life as though it weren’t a foregone conclusion that I would always make the laziest possible choice for every decision. I got this idea from a comment on the author’s blog about living one’s life according to the similar question, “What Would I Do If I Weren’t Scared?” I think that question also has implications for me, but not as many implications as the laziness version. So, here is what I discovered…
If I weren’t lazy, I would:
- Do what needs to be done early in the day. Although I like to think of myself as an “incubator” thanks to an article that Laura M. shared with me once, I use that characterization as a crutch too often. Today, the thing that I HAD to do was check my work email for last minute changes to a training schedule that I made for a new hire who starts on Monday. As I mentioned in my last status report, I resolved not to work during my vacation, but this little email check was unavoidable, and it would help me live by the spirit of my no-work resolution to take care of the email obligations first thing in the morning. I even woke up at a regular work hour to do this. Which, in turn, got me up to do other things.
- Watch the final space shuttle launch. That probably seems like an easy thing to do even if you are lazy, but I tend to watch less tv these days because I don’t like finding our remote and scrolling through 1000 channels because there are too many for me to remember any numbers. However, someone at work reminded me that the launch was happening, and in homage to my high school love for the space program, I turned on the launch. And I’m glad I did.
- Check my personal computer stuff only a couple times a day. Facebook, email, and now this blog easily capture more attention than they deserve; although it’s not laziness persay, spending time on the computer is about the most passive thing I do, so it distracts me from other worthwhile stuff. During the day today, I decided to only check the computer for stuff I needed to know, and I was surprised and a bit horrified at how naturally I felt pulled toward it at times. For example, I’d been taking out trash for a whole two minutes, after which I felt quite proud of myself. So proud, in fact, that I was pretty sure I “deserved” a trip to facebook, which, upon a little reflection, felt pretty ridiculous and possibly unhealthy. I KNEW that if I went to my computer, I’d be there for at least 15 minutes scavenging for SOMETHING worth my attention (and possibly never finding it), so I resisted. And that felt even better. In conclusion, if I ever decide to make some happiness resolutions, I suspect that limiting my computer time might be one of the most powerful things I can do. I can stay connected to the world without observing it constantly.
- Run errands. Granite cleaner, belated wedding card, and pot rack research. These tasks had been waiting between 3 months and 2 years, and now they’re done.
- Clean randomly. Alas, even though the whole house needs cleaning, saying something like “if I weren’t lazy, I’d spend the next 72 hours cleaning nonstop” is neither realistic nor motivating. This taught me a couple things. First, laziness isn’t my only problem. I was excited to clean SOMETHING, but because I couldn’t clean EVERYTHING, I felt a little lost. However, as happiness lady suggests, a little every day goes a long way, so I did put away the clean dishes, gather a bunch of trash, take out the trash, and clear part of my bathroom counter, so that felt good. Second, even when we “arrive” at a clean house someday, there will still be more chores to do per day than we should do, so I won’t always be able to overcome laziness by just doing what needs to be done. I see a chore schedule in our future…it only took five years to get there :)
- Do a load of laundry. Jonathan actually did this, but I’m helping him hang up all the clothes now. And all the clothes that we’ve washed over the past two months. That have been hidden in our guest room.
- Permit myself to have fun. It’s easy to think you should finish all your work before you have any fun, but as the cleaning explanation suggests, there will always be more work to do in a given day than there is time for. So, if I want to have fun without feeling guilty, I need to convince myself that fun is good and deserves some time. Fun!=laziness. So, Jonathan and I went to Fry’s and browsed alllllll the tv shows to find another show to call our own (which we will mainly watch while doing chores, like the laundry we’re doing right now). And bought yet a different version of Family Feud. I collect Family Feuds.
Also, there were a few cases where I failed to not be lazy, but in my defense, they were subconscious.
- I didn’t eat breakfast. So, it’s usually hard to make myself eat breakfast even though I don’t ever have an excuse. I even bought a big thing of oatmeal a while ago that takes all of two minutes to make in the morning, yet I never actually make it because I’m lazy and would rather deal with a rumbling stomach until lunch than expend just a little effort. I am totally capable of evaluating trade-offs like this in which I know the outcome to my laziness will annoy me a whole lot more than actually not being lazy, but because there’s a delay to the annoyance, I’m willing to make the trade-off. There’s got to be a way to make this silliness more obvious…but preferably a way that doesn’t involve charting my feelings. I hate charting my feelings. ANYWAY, because I KNOW it’s so easy to make breakfast, it was on my list of easy proofs of non-laziness for the day. However, in my excitement about getting my must-do work done ASAP, I totally forgot to make my oatmeal…and then it was almost time for lunch.
- I didn’t check for sweet-and-sour sauce. We got Chinese food for dinner at Fire Bowl, and I always always always order sweet-and-sour sauce with my rice. However, on more than zero occasions, they’ve omitted it, and that always makes me sad. Tonight, before we left with our take-out, it crossed my mind to check for the sauce, but I decided it was “nicer” (i.e. easier) to “trust” that they put it in there. And they didn’t. And I was sad. My mantra didn’t even cross my mind at the restaurant, but it totally would have applied, saved the day, and proven that happiness can be assured through less than 20 seconds of effort.
So, these weren’t life-changing realizations (yet), but it was a good day, and I think I’ll try this mantra again tomorrow. Eventually, I might think of a positive way to phrase it, but for now, this is fine.