There’s something really satisfying about ticking off a task from a to-do list. I remember having a calendar pinned to my mirror in high school that listed all of my exam dates which I loved vigorously crossing out using a bright red sharpie as soon as the exam was over. Studies actually show that when we feel even the smallest wave of success – e.g. when crossing something off a checklist – our brains release dopamine (which is connected to feelings of pleasure, learning and motivation). This feeling of self-accomplishment easily becomes addictive to us, perhaps stemming from hearty and healthy ambition, the desire to be organised and ‘on track’ or maybe, if we’re truly honest enough to admit it, for the sake completing something in the name of progression.
As 2019 draws closer to us, I’ve been thinking a little about what my new year’s resolutions should be. This year, I’ve decided to lay to bed my usual resolutions and instead write a list of a totally different nature. Here’s why:
I don’t know if you ever find yourself feeling this way too, but since starting a new job and moving cities a few months ago, I feel as though the world is moving faster than I can keep up with, even at my best and mightiest efforts. I’ve noticed now more than ever before that days are able to slip through the grasp of my fingers without my even noticing, without ever stopping to savour, digest and absorb all that each moment has to gift.
In a day caught up in chaos that praises how far you can go and how quickly you can get there, it seems a little as though we’re almost too afraid to lift our heads above the water in order to take a breath, pause and exhale. We chase results in a wild rush for progress and productivity until our strength runs dry, expecting our dreams to be granted to us as quickly and as easy as our fast food arriving on our plates. We elevate the value of impulse, the ‘immediate’ and instant gratification. To many of us, ‘balance’ is actually a myth and any form of waiting is an unwelcome interruption that disrupts our plans and diminishes our advancement. If only we could do more, be better, have more, achieve more and achieve it quicker, right?
Despite what our culture may teach us, pausing is not the enemy of our productivity.
Ambition is a good thing. A beautiful thing. However our value will never lie in how well we can keep up with our goals or how quickly we can grasp hold of them.
In the midst of my chaos, I’m slowly beginning to realise that the key to my contentment will never be found in my ability to ‘keep up’ or neither in how much I can try to complete, achieve or cross off my list from day to day or year to year. Rather, it’s in my choice to embrace each day for everything that it is. I’m learning that sometimes, slowing down to appreciate each day is the most life-enriching thing that you can do.
There’s beauty to be discovered in every breath, every walk, every belly laugh, every red sky and in every sound – in every little moment of our day and in every little thing that we love.
So this year, instead of focusing too much on ticking off my new year’s resolutions in bright red pen, I’ve written down my list of loves (or at least a few of them to share with you) in my pursuit of stripping life back to basics and savouring each simple moment of uncomplicated happiness.
List of loves
🌷 Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight
🌷The delays, diversions and traffic jams of life that remind me that I’m heading somewhere good, somewhere worth waiting for
🌷Morning light spilling through my bedroom window
🌷 Laughing until my tummy hurts
🌷The smell of a candle burning out (reminding me of childhood birthdays and out of tune singing)
🌷Conversations with strangers
🌷The sound of a can of coke spraying open (and the deliciousness of the first sip)
🌷Golden hour runs along the river
🌷Walking barefoot in the garden and feeling the grass between my toes
🌷Swimming in the salty sea
🌷Hand written letters
🌷The sound of a piano
🌷Dancing around the kitchen until I’m out of breath
🌷 Family dinners around the table
🌷Quiet days that give the gift of time with no agenda – spacious room to breathe, read, write, walk and get a little lost