Margot’s alarm goes off and she press snooze just one more time… (for the fifth time). The day ahead of her is full of tasks and drudgery with no bright spot on the horizon. Slogging through the weeks has become Margot’s norm and she drags her body through the day. Her resting face has become a frown. Margot’s battery is at eight percent and declining rapidly.
Molly wakes in the morning without the alarm and looks forward to the day. Her morning ritual of making coffee is enjoyable rather than a dreary necessity of life. She stands up a little straighter and feels energetic instead of exhausted. Molly laughs easily and smiles often.
I know I’d much prefer to be in Molly’s shoes than Margot’s. In fact, I’ve been in the shoes of BOTH of these women, I am both women. We all are.
Two weeks ago I was Margot. I love my job and my family, but the tasks of day-to-day life were grinding me down. Groceries, cleaning, work, sew Halloween costumes, make the menu, laundry, paperwork, orthodontist appointments… life felt like a very long list of to dos, with a non-existent list of “want to dos”. There just wasn’t time.
Now, I’m happy to say I’m more like Molly. Life feels good. I feel lighter, optimistic, and excited about each day. Here’s what changed:
I recharged my battery. I got a jump-start.
I was at a conference in Arizona absorbing so much new information that it felt as though my brain expanded three sizes (yes neurologists, I know this isn’t physically possible, hold up on the e-mails). I also met an incredible group of women entrepreneurs who’ve faced extraordinary challenges, yet they exude phenomenal energy, optimism, grace, and humor. Connecting with them reminded me that it isn’t about our circumstances, it’s about our outlook. If you’re also craving more energy and optimism, here are some battery drainers to beware of.
Whining and Complaining
This is one of the most common complaints I have from parents at The Nook – their kids are whining and it drives them bonkers. Have you also met adults who can whine and complain? About the weather, the government, their circumstances. The sun is too sunny, the honey’s too sweet. I have amazing in-laws who embody the practice of no complaints. My father in-law, Don, has Multiple Sclerosis. He’s in a wheelchair, and life has not been easy physically. this man has ample reason to complain. Yet in the 25 years I’ve known him I’ve heard him complain exactly ZERO times. Never. He has a gorgeous smile and is quick to laugh. My mother-in-law, Joyce is his caregiver. She does all of the heavy lifting (figuratively and literally). MS has radically altered their lives and I have never heard her complain about being a full time caregiver. She is one of the most positive and optimistic people I know who feels great compassion for others. Insulate yourself from whiners and double check that complaining is not your go to approach to the world.
Excuses will suck your energy dry. I can’t exercise, there’s no time. I can’t eat healthy, it’s too expensive. I can’t be happy, my partner is a monster. Each time an excuse passes your lips, your energy drops a little more. Clients at The Nook soon discover there’s no room for excuses. If we want something badly enough we’ll make it happen and all of the potential reasons and roadblocks in the world won’t stop us. Not enough time? Get up earlier or cut something else out of your day. Not enough money? Cut the cable or figure out another way to increase your income. If you really don’t want to do something or develop a new habit, simply don’t do it. There is no need for excuses or listening to other people’s excuses.
Unless you find great comfort and pleasure in the same old same old, stagnation will drain your battery. I know I’m at the opposite end of the stagnation scale (pathological spontaneity) where I’d be quite excited to move to a new country and learn a new language every year. That’s not what I’m recommending. I’m suggesting that if life feels boring, shake it up. It doesn’t need to be a new partner or a new house, it means opening up to new experiences. Take a different route to work. Set off to explore a new neighborhood or town on the weekend. Open up to a new experience: Opera? Ballet? Roller derby?
When I returned to Toronto this week my life looked the same: groceries, finish the Halloween costumes, clean, laundry, paperwork. But my outlook had changed. Being away from my neighborhood helped me to appreciate it again, how charming the restaurants and shops are, how I love my local coffee shop, how Leslieville is a funky blend of commercial and residential, how great the swoosh of the streetcar sounds. It all felt fresh and new. Occasionally my kids used to complain to me “Mom, I’m bored”. My loving response? “Only boring people complain about being bored, find something to do”. ‘Something to do’ could be playing with their toys, creating some art, getting lost in a book or even daydreaming. Stagnation is a waste of our imagination and natural curiosity about the world. It will drain your battery.
When life gets busy and we’re at risk of our battery running on low, we need to work harder at remaining open to the wonder that’s all around us. Limit the battery drainers and next week I’ll give you some inspiration for battery rechargers.