Wednesday, July 6, 2011

four things.

 {arrangement by Once Wed, via my Pinterest}

Tuesday morning, semi-awake and definitely bleary-eyed, I read through this blog post, and I wondered: What are the four things in my life that I need to stay balanced and happy?

I like to think of myself as a fairly low-maintenance girl; I am genuinely happy most of the time. I think it’s the disposition I was born with.

But I also know that some days, happiness takes effort and work. I maintain a busy, active schedule, and in the past, my tendency has been to work and work and work and work until I am weary and rundown, incapable of lifting my head from the pillow.

In the past couple of years, I’ve tried really hard to work against that tendency, tried to institute moments of rest and relaxation that bring me back to my happy place, back to a more balanced way of living before complete insanity strikes.

I want my life to be simple and happy, and with each passing day, I realize that I have to fight for that simplicity and happiness. Last week, I read an article that said we — men and women alike — wear our stresses like badges of honor. We like sharing our outrageous stress levels with others. We want people to know how busy we are, how much we’ve got spinning on our dozens of plates. We compare our schedules and to-do lists, and we thrive when “hey-I-have-more-to-do-than-you” comes out of our mouths.

How very, very foolish we are.

The overachiever inside of me whispers that could be me. I could join the rat race and the chaos and the stress-induced insomnia… And I could win.

But the other part of me — and I hope the bigger part of me — whispers that life isn’t about to-do lists and schedules and chaos and stress.

It’s about the happy, simple day-to-day things that lead to balanced living. And now, in this moment, these are the four things that I need to maintain that kind of balance.

1. Good books. Thomas Jefferson once famously said, “I cannot live without books.” I don’t find that statement overdramatic in the least. I need books. Need them to keep me grounded, to keep my creative juices flowing, to keep my imagination running rampant. I need them to stretch my brain, to cause me to ask questions, to stimulate conversations with my husband. I need them because they help me turn off the computer, turn off the television. They help my brain to comprehend more than just snippets of facts; they help me process story and character and plot, and they lead to a better story for my own life.

2. Time with husband and family. As I watch others around me sift through grief and pain and desperation, I look at Jordan and I know: There is no one else who I would rather travel through this life with. He is my rock, and our home is my safe haven. Time with him brings me back to who I was at 18, to who I want to be at 45. This life is so full of uncertainty, of roller-coaster up and downs. And although I never know what the future might hold, I am grateful now for the time we have together. I need, too, time with family. Around them I can be completely myself. I can ask questions and discuss spirituality and sing at the top of my lungs while attempting a cannonball into the pool. I have so much to learn from the members of my family; time spent at their feet is never a waste.

3. Purpose. There is good, I know, in wandering aimlessly, in days spent being a little bit lazy and a lot relaxed. I like those days, need those days. But I also know that I am the best version of myself when I am serving a purpose. I need a goal, a mission. It needn’t be grandiose. I am learning every day that sometimes, my purpose will be tiny, even miniscule. Others may never know. But the Father does, and He smiles. I can find my purpose in throwing parties, in starting a new club, in hosting friends, in teaching a class, in cooking meals, in sending birthday cards and mailing notes. I need a purpose beyond my 8-to-5, or I get a little bit lost.

4. Simple pleasures. Originally, I thought my fourth and final "need" would be rest: I'm a girl who needs her eight hours of sleep, needs time to just sit and be. But then I got to thinking about all the little things in my life that make me happy: the fresh flowers from the grocery store. The painted nails done while sitting on the couch. The trips to the pool and date nights in Thomasville. The occasional magazine picked up while standing in line at Publix. The long baths and the pretty stationery and the Ben & Jerry's ice cream. These are little things that make me very, very happy; I know some of them seem frivolous, but they keep me smiling while I tackle things like bills and work and laundry and the tasks that lead to an overall bigger purpose. Here's to the little things, because sometimes, they turn out to be rather big after all.

When I truly sat down to think about what I would need to maintain a happy, balanced life, these are the four that kept coming back to me. What are yours?


Senja said...

What a great list - I can see myself in a lot of things you mentioned.

Also in that article! How sad is that.. What article was that? I would really like to read it :)


Cindy P said...

I read Susie's post a few days and I thought a bit about what I need to stay balanced and happy. You and I are very similiar, Annie. Those are all things that I need to maintain a balanced and happy life. The simple pleasures I think are a big one for me. I find that if I haven't enjoyed those in a while I just feel blah but then I sit down and flip through my notecards to send someone a note and it makes me happy. Or I walk through the grocery store and see the bouquets of flowers and I'm filled with happiness. It's amazing how much of an impact something as tiny as lighting a candle in the evening can have!

Thanks for sharing what brings happiness and balance to your life!


monster cakes said...

I felt so convicted when you wrote that people wear their stress like badges of honor! I never thought of it that way, but so true! We brag about our stress levels as if it's a competition. Well this will certainly give me something to think about today. Yikes. I have some reevaluating to do. : )

Leslie said...

I so agree about the stressed out badge of honor. As if running around like a crazy person and taking on more and more and more gives our life meaning.
Love this. I am thinking about my list of needs right now.

Erika Lee Sears said...

I heard an interesting quote the other day. I am a person who has everything but doesn't want much.

I also think you should listen to what you need for your happiness level and everyone deserves to be happy.

Laken said...

This is a perfect list. I agree whole-heartedly with each one.

Relevant Notes Blog said...

This list is perfect! I definitely agree with #3 - although I "like" the idea of having nothing to do and just relaxing, I definitely find myself feeling healthier and happier when I have a goal, small or big, and am working to accomplish it.

Betsy said...

Great list! For me (especially seeing as how I am not married), I would have to add "Small group" time to #2...time where we meet to discuss, question, encourage, and keep accountable.