In old English, the word “business” meant anxiety, or the state of always being consumed with something. It’s interesting how it’s become the word we use in regard to all of our daily work and commerce. We work in business, we have businesses. No wonder we so deeply confuse “busy-ness” for success.
Rather, it makes sense that some people chase that idea of success to escape themselves. Our most pervasive idea of a “successful person” is someone who is so consumed with important, exclusive work, we can’t even imagine all they do in a day.
It’s as though we think the more that’s on your plate – the better you’re doing at life. Yet, this is rarely ever reality. People who are stressed and overwhelmed typically don’t know how to manage their time, self-regulate their stress, prioritize, and so on.
The best way to summarize how people who are genuinely fulfilled spend their time is in one word: simply. They engage in the small pleasures of life, and keep themselves as flexible. They tend to their responsibilities in healthy, productive ways. It’s because they have such discipline that they’re able to spend the rest of their time following their needs and interests. Here, how they spend the time they aren’t working:
1. They read what interests them, not what’s on the bestseller list.
Assuming the two don’t coincide, they don’t follow literary trends as much as they seek out the kinds of books that they are inherently interested in. They don’t read for the sake of “being read,” or keep up with the times for the sake of it. They read what calls them, and so they engage with the information completely, and it has a real effect on their lives.
2. They go outside just for the sake of it.
Often when you hear advice to “get outside,” it’s within the context of having to “go, go, go!” Get out and hike, bike, swim, take a walk around your neighborhood – anything that keeps you in the homeostasis of constant movement. Instead, happy people spend time outside just for the sake of it. It is because of this that they’re able to get outside more consistently, and are more relaxed because of that fact.
3. They take time to do just sit, relax, and be.
There’s so much shame surrounding the idea of “not having weekend plans,” when in all honesty, that’s the most luxurious thing of all. Happy people make it a point to just rest, nap, cook a meal for themselves and then call it a day. It’s the kind of routine that creates a life you don’t have to take a vacation from.
4. They cook their own food.
Food is life. That may sound like the tweet of a 15-year-old quirky girl, but food actually sustains us and gives us life, and we have to consume it every day for the rest of the days we exist. Rather than choose convenience, we can choose to be mindful about what we eat and where it comes from. Happy people cook for themselves because it’s a grounding thing to do, and if you’re doing it well, it takes up more time than you realize.
5. They give their mental energy to something other than themselves.
In other words, they don’t just think about themselves all the time. They volunteer regularly, or learn about ideas and facts and other people. They are interested in more than just “how they feel,” and that’s something that lends itself to why they feel so settled (they don’t allow themselves enough time to overanalyze).
6. They spend time with people who put them at ease.
They determine which relationships are worthwhile based on how comfortable they feel when they are with another person. The point of spending time with others is to experience connection, and if you have to self-monitor your every word and behavior, it’s because you know you’re at risk for being judged (which means, of course, the person doesn’t love you as much as you may want to assume).
7. They reflect on the hard stuff.
They take time to care for themselves emotionally as much as physically or financially or anything else. They are able to determine what in their life isn’t working, and they devise a plan to shift the situation (or their mindset about it). Either way, they are willing to sit down and use their spare time to work through their emotional issues, not escape from them even more.