It’s OK not to do stuff!

Mental Health

Dr. Happy

Imagine, just for a minute, all the things you could possibly do during all of your life. Imagine every single possible activity you could participate in, every single task you could complete, and every single event you could attend.  

If you’re playing along you might be feeling somewhat overwhelmed because … your imagination should now be filled with A LOT of things!  

Now, let’s imagine something related but slightly different; imagine all the things you’ve done and all the things you will most likely do over the course of the rest of your life.  

If we now cut to the chase, the second imaginary list will only be a fraction of the first imaginary list. That is, there are immeasurably MORE things we could all possibly do than there are things we will ever actually do.  

And that’s OK!  

But too often we worry about what we don’t get around to doing; too often we regret that which we miss out on; too often we experience a fear of missing out, or FOMO, when doing so is just setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment! Because again, if I’ve not already grasped my point, there will always be things we can’t do, there will always be things we don’t get around to, and if we focus too much on these, especially if our focus involves guilt or shame, then we’ll be well on our way to unhappiness and dissatisfaction.  

You see, NOT doing something or procrastinating certain things shouldn’t necessarily be seen as problematic. The real issue is WHAT we don’t do and what we procrastinate; and further, whether or not we DON’T do stuff intentionally.  

Which brings me to my point; we should consciously and mindfully NOT do certain things. NOT doing things with intention is an important part of actively choosing to do other things which are meaningful and important. You can’t have one without the other!  

Most of us spend a lot of our time creating and working through “to-do” lists; which I have to say I’m a big fan of and which I’m happy to acknowledge I use all the time. But hardly anyone has a “not to-do” list; which is something I hope this short article will at least partially remedy.  

Because we’re all so busy, and if we keep adding things to do to our already busy lives, we create stress and anxiety, and we create a scenario where we’re constantly under pressure and usually falling short of our expectations.  

But what would happen if you regularly created a not to-do list? What would happen if you spent just as much time reflecting on things to take OUT of your life and things to STOP doing? We can’t create more time, but we can determine to do fewer things in the time we have available; and ideally, to make sure that as many of those things are really important and not just seemingly urgent.  

It goes without saying that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting stuff done. But it should also be said that just getting anything done is not necessarily healthy or helpful. We only want to get the “right” sort of stuff done and to do that properly, we need to work out what stuff can be left undone; and we need to be comfortable with that as well.  

Dr Happy

Please note: Dr Happy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic, please consult your healthcare professional.

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