In a world increasingly full of opportunities and choice, it’s probably no coincidence that more and more we seem to pride ourselves on restriction. A 12 week detox here, a ban on booze there, 7 day weeks and saying no to treats and temptations. It’s bizarre that what was once a parade of “look how much fun I am having” has become “look how much I don’t f*ck up in a world where I so easily could.”
Everywhere I look I see people dieting, pushing themselves to do more, work harder, get stronger, earn more money, grow ten inches taller, shrink ten sizes smaller. I see people “repenting” for their “sins” (myself included) when all they did was share a Twix. I see people punishing themselves for any kind of fun they might ever have. Last weekend I had such a lazy, contented Saturday, that come Sunday I was like the Duracell bunny after a night on the Mr Muscle – cleaning, organising, whipping my life back into shape. Because of one Netflix marathon and some pizza. FFS.
What about balance? What about enjoying life? What about eating the bloody burger without regret? Not with an “I’ll make up for this later” attitude, but with the intention of genuinely grabbing that moment, and not seeing it as a debt we then need to repay.
We work hard at life. We get up, we do our chores, and we live within the margins society has laid out for us. Why do we need to spend any more time limiting ourselves? Life has become about bucket lists and milestones, it should be about moments and experiences. What happened to just waking up and enjoying being awake? What happened to pancakes in bed without feeling like it had to be #earned?
For me, “balance” is one of the hardest things to maintain. Extremes are easy. It’s easy to be completely reckless, and it’s easy to be completely controlled. It’s hard to have small doses of things. And we are so bad at it. We’re either eating chocolate all day or drinking blended beetroot. We’re either drinking every weekend or doing Dry January. We’re either playing hard or working hard. What about having fun at work? What about running but not racing? What about walking without a destination?
More and more we think about what we want to achieve in the future, and more and more that means disciplining the “us” of today. But what if we don’t get tomorrow? That day might come you know, that last freaking day. Are you glad you spent your last day competing for top spot at work? Are you glad you spent your last day counting the slices of cucumber on your plate? Are you glad you spent your last day bound instead of free?
I have worked hard over the last year to just enjoy life more. That may sound like a contradiction but despite what I’ve said above it doesn’t come naturally to me to just live and let go. I worry, and I want to achieve, I have this strange need to be productive ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY. But after years of training myself to chill out, I’ve finally found some balance. I am getting better at living moment to moment instead of within the confines of some expectation I have if myself, or that others have of me. And I’m so much happier. Yeah, happiness is just one mood, so obviously I’ve still been stressed, sad, and angry, but mainly I’ve been living a higher life, just enjoying the now. For the first time ever.
When we want to achieve certain goals we have to take steps to work towards them, and sometimes that does mean restricting ourselves in certain ways, and furthering our reach in others, but the only way to enjoy life along the way is to keep a balance. Don’t forget to go out and live, every single day, not just on a high Friday night or mellow Sunday afternoon. Make sure you’re chomping on huge tasty bites of life, without remorse or atonement, every day that you are alive. And don’t punish yourself for it later.