I was reading an article by Michael Neill, a life coach, who was debating whether life is a series of tasks to be completed or experiences to be enjoyed. Oh, my. The question produced an AHA moment for me. I realize for the first time I’m a driven task doer, with little time to sit back and enjoy the ride.
We all have a number of things on our to-do list, whether we write them down, stick them on our computer or do our best to keep track of them in our head. And the quality of our lives is often related to what we do with the items on those lists and how it is that we do them.
I begin every day in my bed with my little black day timer and carefully list the tasks to be performed. While most of them are eminently achievable, I now realize that by stacking them on top of each other, they make me feel overwhelmed and often somewhat paralyzed. I notice I’ve been carrying over one item – dig up dead rose bush – for going on six weeks. I just can’t seem to make myself do it.
It dawned on me that I have turned my entire life into a series of tasks to be completed – which means that no matter how efficient I am, there is no end point or in fact any point to anything I’m doing these days – except completing the blasted list!
Neill says one of the reasons we tend to enjoy completing tasks and crossing things off our to-do list is the dopamine/serotonin release our brains give us each time we do it, ultimately that chemical high has nothing to do with true and lasting happiness.
Neill suggests that list makers slow down and do one thing from their list as if it’s the only thing they have to do that day. When they’ve finished that, they can choose another thing, and so on until the list (or their day) is complete.
This morning, I didn’t make up my usual list. I am flying by the seat of my pants today and feel somewhat lost. But I did enjoy my morning walk more than usual today because I didn’t have to hurry through it so I could get all my chores done on schedule. I have no chores today. I’m just tackling items as they come to me.
Now, I’m not saying I’m giving up my list making – but for sure, I’ll give myself at least one day off. Who knows, my no list day may become my favorite day of the week and maybe I’ll enjoy this magnificent planet more and more.