One of the collections of writing prompts that I look toward for blog post ideas suggested I make a list of things I love. I find that… confusing. In what context? Does this mean love, as in “adore and cherish”? Or is it love in the sense of enjoying something? It could be love of a tool or object that makes my life easier. If it’s supposed to be the things I love the most, regardless of category, that’s a lot of pressure. The things I loved the most over the course of my life aren’t necessarily the things I love right now.
3 Things I Love
Given the vagueness of the assignment, I tried to go for over-arching things. What impacts my quality of life the most? What affects the most areas of my world? Rather than just presenting a list with some random number of items that I brainstormed (because that would be boring) I decided to narrow it down to 3 things.
There wasn’t a lot of rigor here. I looked at the large blocks of time in my day, and the major types of work I need to accomplish. That’s work, self-care, and household chores, basically. Then I asked myself what I enjoy about those things, or what elements enhance my ability to do those things. These are the three I came up with.
Maybe this is influenced by the fact that as I write this I’m awake at 2am. because a neighbor has decided to watch a movie at high volume. I like quiet, though. Not just the absence of noise. I like peaceful surroundings. Calmness. Slow, still, moments. Inner silence, when my brain’s not trying to process six different things at once, and my anxiety’s not making me feel like I’m in the world’s most cacophonous factory. When I have silence, I’m not multitasking. I’m not trying to focus on what I’m doing and process music, a podcast, a TV show, whatever. It’s less stressful, and allows me to get into a happy and productive flow state.
Two major revelations Katie and I have had since moving to Finland center on this. The first is that Americans have this need to be swaddled in noise. The clock radio goes off. You listen to something while getting ready, and driving to and from work. Most places have some kind of music playing in the workplace. The TV is on all the time. There’s too much media to consume.
The second is that Americans hate being alone with their thoughts. I don’t think it’s an attention span thing. We just don’t know how to sit still and enjoy the quiet. Pauses in conversation are filled with idle chatter. Some of it is cultural, because unless we get some sort of religious or spiritual training we’re not taught how to be still. There’s also the fear of missing out, driven by consumer culture.
I am all about easy. Not having a lot of stuff laying around and creating clutter allows me to appreciate the fewer, better things I own. While I love to cook, meals that aren’t complex or time-consuming to prepare are my everyday jam. Processes free from unnecessary steps allow me to be more productive, which boosts my self-esteem. Eliminating things that I don’t need from my life frees me up to focus on the stuff that actually matters.
Simplify is part of the mantra of this site. I would have been easy to tag in the other two. I love to create! Who doesn’t love it when they thrive! Beyond that fact that it would have been a cheat and more than a little twee, it wasn’t organic. This kept coming up again and again. I love my bullet journal. I love that I plan meals around budget, prep time, and a minimal number of ingredients. What I love is simplicity.
Sleeping isn’t something I’m good at. Between chronic pain, anxiety, and neighbors who think 2am is a great time to just pop on a movie, deep, uninterrupted rest is a luxury. So I love it when I can crash hard. Even if it’s just a nap, or a couple of hours in the middle of the night, it’s amazing. When I’m rested I’m more productive, more creative, and a lot happier. Because it’s a commodity, I appreciate it all the more.
Before you offer advice — and I’m grateful for your intentions — I’ve probably tried that. Yup, sleep studies, medications, lifestyle changes, ear plugs, white noise, this pillow, that mattress, all of it. This is just the ebb and flow of my life, and something I’ve learned to live with. Again, that’s why I love sleep so much. It’s not something that I take for granted.
What Do I Do With This
Aside from the fact that there’s probably a through line between all of these, there’s information here to work with. I can set goals that lean into simplicity and silence. Contingencies can be made so I can move the ball forward on projects even when I’m sleep-deprived. Elements of why I love these things can be incorporated in the processes and methodologies I implement. I can eliminate distractions and noise, to do more deep work. Entering a flow state leaves me feeling refreshed, which actually helps with the sleep issue. There’s more here that I need to think about, but this is a good starting point for something deeper to be explored later on.