How to do More of What You Love

If you are like most of us, there is a big gap between what you love to do and how you spend most of your time. In fact, there are almost certainly simple things that you love that you never (or almost never) do.

I know, because I’ve heard you say it: “Gee, I love this. Why don’t I do it more often?” (I was in the next aisle over.)

This is a common problem. There’s a technical word for it in Buddhism. It’s an aspect of the first noble truth. (I promise I’ll talk about it some other time.)

We’re in the middle of doing the thing, and then we step outside the experience and start missing it before it’s gone. We go down some path to self-discovery: why we don’t give ourselves permission to be happy, why we fill our days with other people’s demands?  etc. etc.

You know the drill.

I know you do, because I’ve heard you do it.

And you know what? Those are interesting questions. Why do we do things that are urgent but not important? Why do we deny our art, our music, our bodies, our simple pleasures? How does our culture convince us that we aren’t entitled to our own joys? The whys and wherefores are my bread and butter. But this time, we’re not doing that.

This time, I don’t really care why. I just want it to stop. (Don’t make me use my mom voice.)

I don’t want to engage you in self-analysis. I want you to get out the calendar and put things on it. Good things. Things that you haven’t done in years. Things that feed your creativity and soul. You know – things you love.

“Oh!” you will protest. “I couldn’t possibly because…”

To which I say “Phooey.”

Baby steps are where it’s at

Look. I’m not asking you to book a three week vacation. I’m not suggesting that you abandon your children and go to graduate school on the other side of the ocean. Rather, I’m asking you to open a book, or find your paints at the bottom of the box you put them in, or clear a surface in your house to use as a writing desk, or make yourself a vegetable smoothie.

I’m suggesting that you start to do the thing you really want by flexing your, “Oh, I like that!” muscles.

I’m not even suggesting that you put together an entire program for self-development. Not, “I’m going to switch my diet entirely to the healthy foods I know I want to be eating.” More like, “Hey, I’m going buy a bag of carrots. And maybe a peeler.” Baby steps.

So, if you want to read more, don’t put down, “Read Anna Karenina.” Add a task that says, “Read for 15 minutes.” Then put a book somewhere you will find it and remember.

But what if I don’t know what I want?

Now some of you might be protesting that you have no idea what you want. That is a sad place to be. Also, I would argue that you do have some idea, but you won’t let yourself know what it is. This is why we need baby steps – if we take a giant leap in the wrong direction, it’s a lot harder to come back.

But baby steps let us have that moment of saying, “Hey, yeah. That was good. I don’t know why I don’t do that more often.” Do that more often.

If you need to get back in touch with the still voice in your head, the one that tells you what you like, sign up below for the mailing list. Practice guidance and suggestions. First dibs on new course offerings. Not so much “tips and tricks” as a cheering section.

Go, you! Go, us!