If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
THE MULTI-PART ANSWER:
For starters, human life expectancy is at an all-time high. Life isn’t all that short unless you make it short (think drug use, sloth plus gluttony, poor life choices and other such life-shortening behaviors) and life can be as long and fruitful as your mindset will let you feel it is.
- Your lifespan will feel longer to you if you do more meaningful, worthwhile things in the course of that single lifespan.
Right now I’m swamped with my son going back to school – I’ve been posting all over Facebook about the kinds of supplies his class is short on and then talking with people, collecting stuff, and taking it in. My days are full between work and getting him situated for the school year and trying to help supply what other parents and the school haven’t provided for these kids.
But at the end of each day lately I’ve sat back and felt absolutely and completely satisfied and proud of myself for all the little things I’ve accomplished and how it’s going to benefit my son’s whole classroom full of kids. I feel real value and a sizable positive return coming out of the effort I’ve expended these last few days. And it’s that kind of satisfaction that helps me feel like every day is long, every day is valuable and every day has been worth my time.
So go out and do little good deeds in your community. I’m talking about volunteering an hour of your time at a neighborhood school; go down to the library and volunteer to read stories to kids; go down to a career center that serves a homeless shelter and provide your expert knowledge in whatever industry or field you know and help some people find jobs and get out of poverty.
- Both this summer and last summer my husband and I have gotten involved with helping put in two separate lengths of sidewalk in our neighborhood park. This makes our neighborhood more walkable, increases property values, saves kids from being hit by cars, and we met lots of neighbors and talked to people and formed friendships as we shoveled dirt.
Days spent doing good things seem to me to stretch longer than days spent in front of my television. If I want my life to fly by, all I have to do is plug in a movie. But if I want my time to go slowly so I can savor it; I find a good deed to do.
This habit means my life feels quite long already and I’m only 30.
And now on to the meat of the question:
Why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
This one really boils down to two things: mindfulness and choices.
If I’m mindful, I can pinpoint what behaviors, habits and activities I’m doing that don’t generate any positive return – such as watching too much television, shopping when I should be saving, staying home when I should go out and meet people and make friends; working a terrible thankless underpaying job with no hope of advancement; each of these things has come up for me in the past, and it was sometimes hard to change my habits and make choices that would make me happier.
Choices is the second part of that. Because it’s one thing for me to identify that what I’m doing isn’t making me happy; but it’s another thing altogether to change my habits and make hard choices.
But now I’ve gotten to a point where I consciously work to not do things I don’t like or which don’t contribute to my own happiness or the happiness of my family, community, or world.
- I don’t like cleaning my house; but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Do I like things I don’t do? Well, I certainly like it when uber-wealthy people give 70 something percent of their wealth to worthy charities – that’s something I don’t do – because I’m not rich – not even close. So let me think of something more basic than that… Nope. can’t really think of anything.
– Now I’m going to sit here for five minutes and seriously try to think of something I like that I don’t do –
Nope. still nothing.
But I suppose the question is asking why people in general do so many things they don’t like, and yet like so many things they don’t do. When I look around at others, I honestly don’t have an answer for that one. I can’t speak for the mindset, lifestyles and choices of others.
About ten years ago, I can honestly say that I did a lot of things I didn’t like, and liked a lot of things I didn’t do. But then I was in a period of making bad choices, being relatively self defeating and acting exactly like my peers; being miserable all the while. It was incredibly hard to change my behaviors and start acting like an adult; to start making good choices; to start thinking through what would come out of my actions and behaviors and start focusing on doing things that would result in happiness, satisfaction, peace and stability.
I liked loving, healthy relationships; but I’d never been in one until my husband swooped me up and showed me how to actually have and maintain that kind of loving, respectful, positive relationship.
I wished and hoped and prayed for a work situation that didn’t involve catty jealous underqualified coworkers actively sabbotaging my work and going all out-to-get-me on a daily basis; but I’d never experienced a good work situation until I started really looking for the right job and found it and have managed to keep it going strong.
The processes involved in making myself stop being in a bad relationship and stop settling for a terrible job were incredibly hard, took time, and caused upheaval in my life. Obviously. But these were changes I needed to make if I was going to be safe, stable, secure, happy, content, or practically any positive adjective you can throw in here.
Why did I do so many things I didn’t like? Why did I like so many things and not do them myself?
When I look back at that prior phase of my life, I honestly can’t think of a single good or worthy reason why I did part one and didn’t do part two for so very very long. Absolutely no answer at all. I can’t fathom why I got together with that bad guy in the first place, and I don’t know why I stayed at that terrible unhappy dead-end job for as long as I did.
Now; at this point in my life; I know that I don’t really do things I don’t like, and I know I don’t like many things I don’t do. But that’s probably because I get off my lazy ass and do good stuff, and because I made some hard choices and hard changes a good long time ago. *Insert bragging here.
Now I find myself sitting back and thinking about the good stuff I’ve done lately and how full and long and happy my life feels at this point, and honestly how little unpleasantness there is in my life; and I think I’m done with this question.
So help me out please! Contact me here at ThaliaBrandon.com and give me your personal answer to this question. You can also answer in the comments, and share your stuff directly with the world that way.