I was chatting with a neighbor lady today when she said something I found so simply profound. It got me thinking. First, a bit of backstory. I was telling her about a conversation my hubby and I had recently about ALL THE THINGS that take up our time and why is it that we can’t find a little time to do simple things – like clean and eat all the veggies we get from the CSA we spent a good chunk of change on? Building the house is obviously an added stress, and is demanding more of our time this summer. Add on to that sports with the kids, going back to the lake on the weekends, barbecuing with friends, and the normal cleaning, cooking, eating, repeat cycle, and there is just so. little. time.
There’s that question again. What is it you do with the precious time your granted?
In response, my wise neighbor said this:
“You know, all these things we add to our life are really GOOD things. But there are too many good things and sometimes you have to just say, ‘Nope. No thanks.'”
Wait a minute. Whaaa??
I’m well aware of the habit of adding things to our life. And saying “no” is not something new to me either. I can’t say I’m very good at it, but I know that it is necessary and worth practicing.
What caught me off guard and inspired more in depth thinking for me was the GOOD things part. Of course all the things we want to add to our life are good things! We wouldn’t want to add them otherwise. Supporting local, natural, food growers is a good cause that we’ve enjoyed so much the last few years. Being active with baseball and football is an interest our kids are passionate about. Beers and bbq with friends? Heck yeah!
The problem is, we look around and see more good things we want in our life. Or maybe we see the good things people around us are enjoying and we want to experience those too. We get bogged down, tired, stressed, and BUSY with all those good things. We start to think, what if we don’t do ALL the good things? Does that mean we’re just not GOOD ENOUGH??
Here’s an example.
This sign annoys me every time I see it shared on social media. I realize that it is well intended. It is supposed to relieve overwhelmed parents from the idea of a Pinterest perfect kitchen or home. It’s supposed to say, “Hey, it’s okay if your house isn’t clean right now. You were busy taking care of and providing for other humans and that’s important work!”
However, it implies that you can’t have both a clean house AND happy kids. It implies that if you are a mom (parent) who spends any time cleaning, your children are unhappy and suffering from not spending enough time with you and you are a BAD mom (parent). The choice is GOOD THING (happy kids) vs. BAD THING (clean house). Except, isn’t having a clean house also a good thing??
That example is specific to moms and parents and people who have homes, but the same principles apply to all walks of life. What if you decide not to have children and invest your time in a fulfilling career, or devote your life to a creative endeavor, philanthropic pursuit, or care for someone else’s children who is out chasing their dream? The number of these things that are bad is 0.
The absence of a good thing isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe it means there is a presence of different good things.
So here’s my suggestion. Let’s stop playing the good-bad game with ourselves and others. Let’s assume that all the things we want to add to our life are good things. Let’s ask ourselves each day “What good things am I going to choose for my life today?” And let’s give ourselves permission to say “No thanks” to some things some days. It’s okay if your house is clean or dirty, or your kids are happy or whiny, if you cooked a homemade meal with those CSA veggies or you grabbed Taco Bell on the way to the fourth soccer game of the week. We won’t have all the good things all the time. But whatever good you’re choosing today is indeed GOOD ENOUGH!!