We hear and speak a lot about “quality of life”. Maybe we’ve taken the idea of “work-life balance” too far. We believe we are entitled to hobbies, family, friends, and community, so we pack those things into our lives in equal portions to work.
I’ve previously documented how I used to feel good about a day only if I had done five or six different “things” in that day.
After scaling back and forcing myself to do less for a while, quality of life has been replaced with a new value: Quality of Mind.
It’s a very different measuring stick. Rather than evaluating my happiness and success on the amount of things I accomplish or produce in a week (i.e. the amount of busy-ness I’ve managed), now I evaluate it based on the health of my mind. If my mind is racing, if I’m having predominantly negative thoughts, if I’m feeling blameful, hopeless, angry – I recognize those red-flags and prioritize my mind-health.
I’ve had a particularly taxing schedule this fall, plus some unexpected projects taking time I hadn’t planned for. I’ve had to step back a few times, cancel some plans, and be willing to not do all the things I think would be fun, not see all the people I’d like to see, in order to make time for sleep, exercise, and quiet time – the things I’ve learned I need in daily doses to feel right.
My mind is healthy when it’s positive, creative, flowing, happy, present, and abundant. I didn’t used to value those things so much. By changing my measuring stick, I’ve changed my outlook, and that has changed my life. I do better work, I’m fully present in the things I do choose to do and I enjoy them more, and I’m truly there for the people in my life. Unexpectedly, I feel like a more productive member of society than I ever did when I was rushing from one activity or task to another and appearing to accomplish a great deal.
What’s your measuring stick?
Here’s something to work on over the holidays. How do you measure your happiness or success? Is your measuring stick a quantity? A size? A weight? A dollar amount?
Run some what-if scenarios on other types of measures you might apply instead. Try things that can’t be measured by others. See what comes up!
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker, PhD.