On Ignoring the Shoulds

Recently I’ve felt heartened by reading a couple of blog posts about the pleasure and benefits of ignoring, even temporarily, the endless list of ‘shoulds’ in a day. These occur often without much conscious thought, or so it seems. We are conditioned to move from one task to the next, and there is usually something that requires attention or input. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: having a focus helps to create a sense of purpose, and there is something quite satisfying when a task is completed and can be moved off the real or mental to do list, even if it is only a temporary reprieve before it needs to be done again.

But there is something quite freeing in making the conscious decision to stop. Stop from moving from one task to the next. Accept that there is probably a better way to spend your time and yet still choose not to do it. Just sit and stare out at the garden, lose yourself for a while in a book or TV show, potter about and do small tasks that don’t necessarily appear on a list of things to be done but feel good to do anyway.

Like most people, I can usually think of plenty of things that could or should be done if a spare moment happens to materialise. But lately I’ve been choosing not to do it. Well, not right now anyway. There is a kind of satisfaction in recognising that whilst I could be doing whatever it is right now, I’m choosing not to. Instead, I’m going to sit in my favourite chair with a book that isn’t on my reading list and read a bit. Or stare out at the trees. Or watch clouds change shape. All of those shoulds can wait.

When was the last time you ignored the should-dos in your day?

This post was encouraged by I Really by Real Life of an MSW and A Day of Rest by Ann Coleman, whose blog posts arrived just when I needed them!

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Leather and Lace*

You don’t always get to choose where you live. It might be where you were born, or where you move for study or work, for love or convenience. Sometimes it is a deliberate choice, based on a series of decisions around the kind of lifestyle you want; at other times it is where your family happens to be. Some people live in the same area all their lives, others shift about at regular intervals, a restlessness permeating their life or perhaps just questing after new horizons.

For me, living in the mountains was a deliberate choice. I knew that I wanted to be nearer to Sydney but after a decade away from the big smoke, it was overwhelming just to visit and I didn’t seriously contemplate moving back there. But I needed to be closer. A rough idea of living within 100 kilometres came to mind and I began to think of the areas that would fit into my wishlist of affordability, creativity and lifestyle.

In hindsight the mountains were an obvious choice, and I didn’t seriously consider anywhere else. They were familiar, and depending on where I chose to live, commuting for work would be an option if I couldn’t snag something locally. The mix of villages, some so small they were blurs on the highway, others distinctive and offering their own style of life, was a big appeal.

When you come across new residents, they frequently comment on the slower pace of life, the casual and relaxed attitude of people, the great cafes and the creative buzz. And, of course, there is the staggering natural beauty available wherever you turn.

Where would you live if you could?

*Taken from the title of the song by Stevie Nicks & Don Henley, comparing city and mountain life and love

[Photo taken from the Hartley Valley Road]