Conscious Living is a series which takes a closer look at living a life full of thoughtful choices and conscious decision making in order to live a life full of meaning, self-love, and respect for ourselves and the world around us.
Rae here! I am so glad today to be sharing with you Betti’s first piece for LFB! Really hope that you guys enjoy this read and leave her some feedback on what you thought of this post! So without further ado…
Talking #lifegoals is a tricky business. Dreaming big, self-improvement and wanting to be the best possible version of yourself is an admirable ambition – as long as you’re doing it for yourself. When we start measuring our lives by other people’s benchmarks, our priorities tend to get a bit skewed. As a result, we spend hours, days, or even months pursuing goals that we think other people will approve of, without stopping to consider whether they’re right for us.
My cousin J was in Berlin over the new year. While we were freezing our balls off outside my favourite bar in Mitte, glugging red wine, I told him that I was a bit worried about how little I felt I had achieved over the past month, and he imparted a few words of wisdom. “Bett,” he said, “life is too short to measure yourself by other people’s conception of success.”
J is a psychologist, and a bit of a scallywag to boot. He knows his shit. His advice made me think about how much time I waste worrying about how my life comes across to others, how many of the decisions I make are based on what is the ‘right and proper’ adult thing to do. I realised that, at the age of 27, I had found myself for the first time chasing dreams that weren’t my own – dreams that I thought a ‘real writer’ and ‘functioning adult’ should be pursuing – and was reaping a watered-down sense of accomplishment as a result.
Later that evening, when the last of the vino tinto worked its way out of my system, one stark realisation hit me harder than Miley Cyrus’s wrecking ball – life is too short to base your actions and decisions on anything but your own passions and expectations.
So following on from J’s logic, and from Rae’s post last week about New Year’s resolutions, I decided to filter out the life-chaff that so many of us expect of ourselves, and live 2016 according to what I have called my ‘Life’s Too Short’ list. Here goes;
Life is too short to count calories and watch scales, or to spend hours a day stagnating on the sofa. It’s too short to eat substandard supermarket ready meals, and cheap chocolate. Life is too short to listen without really hearing, and to complain about the weather – unless you’re talking to a middle aged British person, of course. Then it’s mandatory.
Life is too short to brush your hair every day, and to iron your clothes religiously. Hey, knots add volume and texture, and mini-pleats are so in right now – crinkles are kind of the same thing, right?
Life is too short to read more than 50 pages of a book you aren’t enjoying, regardless of the kudos you will receive if you complete it. I accepted long ago that I will never read Tolstoy’s “War And Peace,” Joyce’s “Ulysses,” or Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.” I’m cool with that.
Life is too short to expend time and effort on people who put you down. Funny, blunt friends who tell it like it is are fine and dandy. Friends who tell you that your new jacket accentuates your already manly shoulders definitely aren’t.
Life is too short for fandoms. Instead of swooning over someone else’s lifestyle and legend, create your own. Life is too short for mediocre clothes, and for metaphorically rimming any trend that appears in the latest issue of Vogue. Life is too short to be afraid of looking stupid. It will never be as bad as you think it will. Plus, your dumbass mistakes make the best retrospective anecdotes. Nothing elicits a quick laugh quite as well as self-deprecation.
Life is too short to live vicariously through the lives of others on a screen. Facebook, Instagram and glossy TV box sets are great, but not every night. Get out, even if you’re a little bit sleepy, because there is fun to be had and a lifetime of memories to be made. Whoever said ‘no good story ever started with a lemonade’ missed the mark a little – it would be more accurate to say that ‘no good story ever started with a solo Netflix and chill’.
Finally, life is too short to sleepwalk through, worrying excessively about what you are going to ‘do’ and ‘be’. You are doing and being, right here, right now. The things you see, experience, work at, enjoy and despair over today are the things that will shape your future. Nights spent lying awake, fretting about what might happen and how much you’re getting wrong, only shape your puffy under-eye bags the next day.
That’s why this year, my resolution is to stop making decisions based on what I believe other people would do or want, and to stop berating myself for mistakes I believe I’ve made. Instead, I vow to listen to my gut when deciding a course of action, while running at life full pelt with open arms and a willingness to embrace the unknown. Because life is never too short to immerse yourself for hours in your favourite book, whether it’s Sartre or “Sweet Valley High.”
There’s always time to squeeze in an extra glass of wine with that friend who makes you laugh ‘til your stomach begs for mercy, to dance like a dickhead to forgotten 80’s classics when you should be asleep, and to curl up in bed until noon when you have an empty morning. Life is never too short for pointless knowledge quests, learning hilariously bad jokes, stopping to notice the sunlight refracting through tiny beads of water on a spiderweb, developing badass cooking skills, and making endless mind maps of all the possible things you can potentially see and do with your limited time on earth. Pursuing the little things that give your life joy and meaning, regardless of what anyone else thinks, is just as important as securing a future with ‘#lifegoals’ stamped all over it in big red letters, and is never a waste of time.
photography by: and Rae Tashman