There was one shining week in my adult life where I felt satisfied, fulfilled, and happy. It was unexpected, so I reflected on why it was so exceptional. How could I duplicate it?
I had taken a week of vacation from my full-time job in the middle of summer. Rather than a family vacation, I stayed home with my children and husband. Their lives continued as normal, but mine was completely altered to work on a writing project. I slept a full eight hours every night then skipped the alarm and rushed commute. I sat quietly with my hot tea each morning and checked email to reassure me that all was well in my world. Then I sat down to work on my project. I set daily goals, which I met or exceeded. While I worked, I listened to soothing music, and my pets kept me company. Every night, I cooked dinner; nothing fancy, just healthy food.
When the week was over, I was satisfied with my project completion. I was well-rested, well-nourished, and mellow beyond belief. Why couldn’t every day be that way? As I reflected, I saw that sleep was a major factor – and I needed to make it a higher priority daily. As a modern woman, I always burned the candle at both ends, and it was time to support myself more. I was past the age where I could get by on four or five hours of sleep and still function well. No doubt I was never as good at that as I thought I was. I set a goal for nightly sleep and worked hard to maintain it.
I decided to update the music I listened to at work. I turned to instrumental music that wouldn’t distract me with lyrics; it’s hard to think about the words I’m working with when I’m mentally singing along with something else. I searched for ways to eat more nutritiously every evening rather than settling for what was convenient. That continues to be a struggle, with some successful campaigns and a few rushed defeats. It is more of a struggle for a working family than I want to admit.
The work I did that week was a departure from my usual work. It required research, focus, and sustained attention on the same thing, as does my 9-5 job. The difference was that my personal project had a creative component that my work lacks. I had grossly underestimated how much I needed a creative outlet. I don’t have to make it a career, but it has a rightful place in my life. Bringing imagination and inspiration into my life have brought unexpected pleasure.
I’ve spring-boarded the lessons of one week into several years of better days. What can you add to your life every day to increase your contentment? What priorities need to shift or changes need to be made? Supporting yourself daily is highly underrated; it is essential.
This article was also published in the inspirational Sibyl Magazine, February issue, page 38.