This is what I’ve been working on the past couple of years. It isn’t easy. If you’re a Pleaser like me, you want to help out, you want to participate, not necessarily because you enjoy it, but because you want to make other people happy (Elizabeth Gilbert has a nice post on FB today about saying No, and that’s very much the same thing). But that’s no good. Then everyone else is happy but you are frazzled and UNhappy, and there is less room for your particular brand of joy because all the corners or your life are stuffed full of the unessential.
You know what happens when I don’t participate? Nothing. Eventually an event comes along in which I want to participate, and I enjoy those quite a lot.
You know what happens when I don’t help out? Someone else does.
There are plenty of things I enjoy participating in and LOTS of ways I enjoy helping out. I’m learning to make my contribution there and trust that there are others in the world who enjoy making theirs where I don’t. It’s left much more room for the essential – family, reading, writing, taking walks, going to the movies. I’m better for it, and I’ve come to believe that being as centered and at peace as possible is the very best thing we can all do for the world at large.
If you’re feeling frazzled, stretched too thin, or generally unhappy, take a few moments to ask yourself what you’d like more room for. What can you hack away at to make those things possible? Some of the things I’ve given up over the past few years include the PTA at my kids’s school, TV (I watch a little bit on Netflix, but streaming means that I’m never a slave to the TV line-up), social events that don’t excite me, and dating. That last one is a biggie! I’ve been single by choice for seven years, because frankly, a significant other just isn’t as essential to my happiness as all those other things I mentioned. Maybe someday that will change, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes.
Make your own list! And as the kids say; you do you.