Whole Health

A Sincere Evaluation of how I Spend my Time

Creating my own Happiness: A Reflection upon my Priorities

I’ve noticed that I am so often waiting to be happy. Waiting for life to be easier, less chaotic, or to have fewer demands on my time. But I know if I am going to insist on waiting for these things to be happy, I will never be happy. So I have been reflecting a lot here recently on how to create my own happiness in the here and now. Specifically, I’ve been reflecting upon my priorities in life. And quite generically, I decided my top three priorities are family and friends, happiness, and health.

So then I starting considering what I am doing each day to create my own happiness. I always hear that if something is truly important to you, you will make time for it. I started questioning if my daily activities were accurately reflecting my priorities. And here is where I found the disconnect.

Top ways I spend the majority of my waking hours:

1. Working.

2. Working over time.

3. Laundry and dishes.

4. Shopping.

5. Social media.

We all have to work. We all have to eat, we all need something to wear <public nudity seems to be frowned upon>, and we all need a roof over our heads. And we all have to have some way to pay for it. Work is unavoidable. And in all fairness, I do love where I work and am very grateful for my job.

But I’ve definitely been considering if the over time I work is necessary, and how I can cut back on that. And honestly, maybe with a little less shopping, the over time won’t be as necessary. I can kill two birds with one stone.

Laundry and dishes are as unavoidable as work.

As for social media, goodness knows I don’t need to spend all of my time on Facebook and Pinterest. I notice I tend to wax and wane on how good I am about limiting my time on social media. It’s definitely something I could stand to focus on again.

How I actually want to spend my time:

1. Family and friends. For all the time I spend on social media, you should think I’d be great at staying in touch with everyone. But to be honest, I often don’t think to send a text or give a call just to say hello to family. And I find it too easy at times to get caught up in the day-to-day; I forget to reach out to my friends, to make plans, to get together. And all too often, I miss out playing dress up and make believe with my girls because I’m doing dishes and laundry.

2. Nature. Hiking, camping, gardening. It’s so often cold and rainy here, it’s difficult to make myself go outdoors some times. But once I’m there, whatever the weather, I always feel refreshed and free. I love Rachael’s post Try This Simple Trick to Ward off Winter Blues about how some times you just have to make yourself do it. I find, even if I’m only outside for 15 minutes, weeding in rain, that can be enough to make my heart feel as wide as the ocean.

3. Music and movement. It is amazing the peace that comes to me with playing piano, or the energy and vitality that come with dancing. I do not perform, compete, or teach. But it is simply enough to fill my daily life and my home with music. Playing music for no one else but myself and for no other purpose than for its own sake – this is truly to live and breath music. I cannot have enough of it. I hope to some day learn guitar, banjo, and who knows what else!

4. Reading. I want to read all the books. That is all.

5. Food. I love to cook. I love to eat. And to really bring it full circle, I love to share food with my family and friends. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Stones and Sand

Have you heard of the analogy of filling a glass with stones and sand? If you pour in the sand first, you won’t have room to put in the rocks. But if you place the rocks in your glass first, and then pour in your sand, the sand will fill the crevices, and everything will fit.

Our priorities are the stones. And I think I’ve had it all backwards. I’ve been filling my days with sand, and I’ve been running out of time for what is really important to me. If playing with my girls is my stone, then laundry and dishes should be my sand. I can fit the laundry around time with my girls by doing it with them, doing it during their nap or after their bedtime, or between playing dress up and hopscotch.

I believe that by making a small change in my life – placing my stones in my glass first – I can close the gap between my priorities and how I spend my time. And in doing this, I can create my own happiness here and now.

Further Reading

To find more ideas on how I work to create my own happiness, check out my post A Few of my Favorite Things: My Petite Joys.

Questions of the Day

  1. What activities currently demand the majority of your time?
  2. Are these activities in line with what you believe or want your priorities to be?

9 thoughts on “A Sincere Evaluation of how I Spend my Time

  1. It’s especially hard when your children are young because they can’t help much with cooking, dishes and laundry. I made the choice when my children were young to work part-time which gave me time to do other things besides just the necessities. We did make sacrifices. We only had used beds and furniture in our children’s rooms. At Christmas, we bought very little, but the grandparents and aunts and uncles made up for what we couldn’t buy. I shopped the sales for school clothes, but also shopped our neighborhood once-a-year garage sale. We didn’t have a swing set, but took I took our children to neighborhood parks. And we lived in an older house. When I was tired, we ate grilled cheese or PB&J and we had lots of left over nights. These sacrifices ultimately made me happy. I had lots of time to do crafts and play with my kids, make handcrafted gifts for other people, co-taught a girl scout club, attended church, attended concerts and plays my children were in, spent time with my friends and invited friends over for barbeques. If I got behind on dishes because I was doing one of these other activities, that was ok with me. And very importantly I had down time for me to do nothing. We also had some hobbies that were family hobbies like riding ATV’s and going to antique car events, which gave us all lots of good memories we still cherish. I wouldn’t trade how I spent my time and the sacrifices we made for anything. I never owned a new couch or dining room table until after I was 50 years old. I was 40 when we bought our first home. Regarding friendships, I wasn’t good at making the first move when I was younger to make friends with someone, but at my age now I’m not scared of rejection anymore. I ask people all the time, if they want to walk during lunch at work. If they want to go to a play with me or out to dinner. The worst they can say is no and it may be that they want to, but don’t have the time at the moment. My best friend when I was in my 30’s asked me several times to do something and my answer was always no because I had something else going on. She never gave up and finally I said yes. Later we became best friends. Good thing she never gave up!

  2. Great reflection. I think we all need to slow down and make stock of our priorities. I spend a lot of my time working for my client and on my own business. I sometimes forget or delay eating and or working out. I also run out of time to keep in touch with family and friends. As the weather gets better and the sun shines I need to make sure I don’t forget my priorities in life. Work is work but life is more important. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Thank you, Kasia! It feels like sometimes we live to work; it can be hard to change our focus so that we’re working to live.

  3. I love the “stones and sand” analogy. It’s so perfect! I, too, have been on the search to have my life be more fulfilled by passing on some of that less necessary stuff. We each only get so much time here on Earth and none of us knows how much that will be. I want that hourglass as full as possible, and stones fill it way faster!

    Please follow up with an update so we can see how things have changed for you in a few months!

    1. Thank you for the comment and suggestion, Kira. I hadn’t really planned a follow up post to this, but I think I will! It’s a great idea and it will certainly hold me accountable for making some positive changes in my life.

  4. Don’t wait, make family and friends your priority now, today. You never know how much time you have with them. They are all that really matters in the end…

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