Do you find yourself embroiled in a battle between doing what makes you happy vs doing what should make you happy? And by “what should make you happy”, I mean the thousands of advices found everywhere about others (mostly strangers) telling you how you should be living your life in order for you to have the best and happiest life you could possibly imagine. You know, all those “productivity gurus” out there telling you that you should wake up at 5.00 am every morning, write Morning Pages every day, workout for an hour every morning, make a green smoothie, spend time with your pets or kids (woe is you if you have no pets or kids), meditate, cook really awesome and wholesome meals at least twice a day, do yoga, have a glass of wine whilst soaking yourself in a bubble bath (if you do not have a bath tub for this, your life is incomplete). Who cares if you have a full time job that takes up 12 hours of your day? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I oftentimes find myself in this position, stuck between doing what I really want to be doing (which are usually activities that are deemed to be “unproductive” and a complete waste of time to most “productivity gurus”), and beating myself up for not doing what I “know” I should be doing. It doesn’t help that many “social influencers” project their lives to be so perfectly productive and wholesome. Don’t get me wrong. I am aware that the life they portray online are heavily curated, and I am also aware of the hard work they put in to be able to do what they do. But it doesn’t change the fact that watching how they “live” their lives make me crave the same “wholesome” lifestyle.
Because of this, I beat myself up when I spend too much time reading instead of writing because so many writers out there tell us that we need to write consistently, every day, to improve. That we should not wait to be inspired to write. That it is more important to show up and write every day, even if you really don’t want to. But on days when I really do not feel like writing at all, I cannot force myself to. I will only end up churning mediocre work at best, so how will that help me improve?
It is really Catch-22. I beat myself up for not writing, but I also beat myself up if I force myself to write.
And so, I am trying to learn to not beat myself up when I “slip”. I am learning to acknowledge that there will be days when I will not be my best self. There will be times when I will feel happier watching YouTube videos than read. There will be moments when I would rather spend scrolling through Instagram than to write. And that is okay. What is important is that I allocate time to do what I feel like doing, and then get back on track after. As long as I do not allow myself to be sucked into this wormhole of neverending time wasting, I am fine.
Besides, how would someone who does not know us personally know what brings us joy? What works for even the majority might not work for us.
Nobody can dictate what makes us happy. Only we can.