zen habits : breathe

Worried About What You’re Not Doing

By Leo Babauta

In any given moment, many of us are thinking about what we’re not doing.

We feel guilty that we’re not doing more. Worried that we’re not as productive as we could be. Guilty that we procrastinate.

We feel guilty that we don’t exercise more, eat right, have better bodies.

We worry that we should be doing something better, something more amazing, doing what the amazing people we see online are doing.

We worry about what we have to do later, what’s next, where we’re going.

We worry about the goals we’re not reaching, or that we might not reach. We feel guilty that we’ve failed in our many attempts at these goals or habits.

We worry about what other people are doing, the ones we see in social media, the ones whose pictures in Instagram look more amazing than our lives.

We feel guilty that we aren’t perfecting ourselves. That we aren’t doing the perfect thing right now.

This is perfectly natural, and there’s nothing wrong with this worry and guilt. We all feel it. I’ve probably felt it about a dozen time just this morning.

But there is another way. Allow me to share this way with you today.

The Fallacy of What You’re Not Doing

I think we have an idea that in an alternate universe, there’s a version of ourselves that could be living a more amazing life. That is perfectly productive (no procrastination!), that doesn’t get distracted, that hits all kinds of goals. At the same time, this person is also traveling, having amazing experiences, living the life with great friends and a wonderful partner. This person is learning all kinds of skills, reading, learning about fascinating topics. With a great body, of course.

This alternate self, of course, doesn’t exist, and never will.

All we have is this plain ol’ regular self. We’re stuck with it.

So we should make the best of what we have. Take a look at the current-reality self and say, “Hey, you’re OK. You’re pretty awesome in some ways. In other ways you’re flawed. That’s how all Earthlings are, actually. In any case, you’re good enough. Oh, and btw, I love you.”

There’s no perfect version of your life, of you. There’s no perfect thing you should be doing now, no perfect sequence of things you should be doing today.

There’s just what this moment is … including your dissatisfaction with this moment and yourself (and other people). This dissatisfaction is part of the moment you’re stuck with.

So we can be dissatisfied with this moment, or practice being satisfied with it.

Satisfaction & Appreciation of This Plain Ol’ Moment

The other way that I mentioned above is a simple (but not easy) practice:

  1. Pause, and notice that you’re worried about what you’re not doing. Notice the feeling of dissatisfaction with yourself or this current moment.
  2. Accept your feeling of dissatisfaction as a part of you, and just allow yourself to feel it. Notice the sensations of this feeling in your body.
  3. Turn to the current moment: what are you doing right now? Be completely present with the physical sensations of whatever activity you’re doing.
  4. Notice that this current moment is absolutely enough. It doesn’t need to be different, doesn’t need to be more. It’s great already, in its own way. And so are you.

This is a practice, and it’s not something you’ll ever perfect. You just remind yourself, and forget, and remind yourself, and forget. That’s the fun of it.

This post, by the way, is as much a note to myself to remember to do this as it is a guide to anyone else who might find some use in it.

May this moment, and the next, be full of enough-ness for you.



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