Live in the present, in a sat­is­fy­ing way

The Buffalo News - - LIFE COLUMNS -

Hi, Carolyn: I’m burned out. Be­tween work, my com­mute, work­ing out every night and try­ing to lose weight, try­ing to get ev­ery­thing else done that needs to be done, and try­ing not to spend my life in front of the TV ... I’m ex­hausted. Every Mon­day, I be­gin the count­down to the week­end. And when the week­end ar­rives, I try to rush through ev­ery­thing and even the fun stuff can be daunt­ing. All I want to do is sit on my bis­cuit. Even if I do man­age to get a day to my­self, it’s never enough. And the thought of do­ing this for the next 30-plus years? Ugh. I need some per­spec­tive. – Burned Out No, I think you need some down time. All of this rushing around for a fu­ture ver­sion of your life means you’re not liv­ing the present one in any kind of sat­is­fy­ing way.

That can be fine, cer­tainly – we all have tough phases of life – but yours doesn’t seem to be a con­tained cul­ti­va­tion sea­son to­ward a de­fined har­vest. It’s more like drudgery ever af­ter. And that’s not emo­tion­ally sus­tain­able.

You need to give your­self per­mis­sion to sit on your bis­cuit every third day. Or what­ever. You need to make that “work­ing out every night” com­mit­ment into some­thing that brings other dividends than weight loss. Can you change “work­ing out” to “danc­ing” one or two nights a week? Can you pick up a sport that has a com­mu­nity around it? Can you add a soul work­out of some kind – a vol­un­teer gig or a faith-based com­mit­ment or a yoga/med­i­ta­tion prac­tice?

Can that “get ev­ery­thing else done that needs to be done” list be cut? If not im­me­di­ately, then over time with strate­gic changes? A low­er­main­te­nance life sounds pretty good to me, as does torch­ing a few hours of it sit­ting and watching TV.

Re: Burned Out.You

are not alone. My com­mute has been ter­ri­ble for the past year and I have ba­si­cally worked­watched tv-slept for the past year. I’m mov­ing to tele­work soon, but if I couldn’t do that I’d have to change some­thing else be­cause it’s just not sus­tain­able. Good vibes your way!

– Com­muter

Dear Carolyn:

How in the world do peo­ple fig­ure out their life’s pur­pose?

– How?

Luck, con­ve­nience, delu­sion, ne­ces­sity, a delu­sion of ne­ces­sity.

A pur­pose is nice to have, and I en­cour­age it. At min­i­mum it’s some­thing to hang onto when things feel over­whelm­ing, and at best – when it’s a great match of pur­pose and per­son – the world gets bet­ter for nearly ev­ery­one.

But pur­pose in it­self is re­ally more like those au­dio-tours at mu­se­ums: With­out one, you may miss a few things, but you don’t nec­es­sar­ily need one to get some­thing out of the whole ex­pe­ri­ence.

So, if a pur­pose eludes you at the mo­ment, then it’s OK just to ap­pre­ci­ate the good stuff around you. See what you see. At­ten­tive­ness can reveal a pur­pose, or be one unto it­self.

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