Tag Archives | Mental Health

Stop Being So Productive…It Might Be Bad For Your Health


Yes, you read that right! Stop trying to be so productive…at least some of the time.

(Thanks to my husband for this picture…which inspired this post and got me thinking, though that probably wasn’t his intention at all…he probably just thought it was funny.)

And it is funny…and yet it’s also kinda serious.

If you expect to be productive every day, you’re setting yourself up for disaster…burn out, disappointment, stress, plus we’ll all find you annoying…

Every once in a while, just forget about trying to be productive and do whatever you feel like doing…or do nothing at all…which might be the hardest thing to do for many of us…

Do you ever put aside the need to be productive? Does it feel less stressful? Or does it make you antsy?

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In Defense of Instant Gratification

The precept of delayed gratification has been preached to us, drummed into our heads, until we no longer question it. It has been awarded lauded status, an unquestionable tenet, almost a commandment. “Thou shalt delay gratification.”

We learn this message early in life. Many of us cling to this rule, to the point of martyrdom.

Work before play, save for the future, the payoff is somewhere down the road, pleasure and enjoyment must be earned through hard work.

You know who you are. My hand is in the air!

If your hand is not in the air, you probably don’t need to read the rest of this post.

What it isn’t

We have a pervasive misconception of what instant gratification is. Indulgence, excess, possessions we can’t afford, too much play and not enough work, self-centered wandering lives, with no purpose or meaning. But that’s not what instant gratification really is.

Instant gratification is not the same thing as laziness. It’s not selfishness. It’s not shortsightedness. It’s not a lack of self-motivation.

What it is

The true definition of instant gratification is enjoying our lives, in the present moment. The problem is that most of us are at one end of the spectrum or the other. We are either self-indulgent, or self-denying. Or… We practice self-denial, then binge in self-indulgence, then feel guilty, and punish ourselves by practicing self-denial.

Instant gratification and delayed gratification are not mutually exclusive. Why can’t they coexist? (Feel free to Tweet that!)

Wouldn’t life be better, more enjoyable, if we could both plan for the future, and reward ourselves right now?

  • Are we afraid that if we have fun now we won’t want to work hard later?
  • Are we worried that if we eat dessert now will never get to the vegetables?

It’s important to question those unwritten rules that we learned along the way. See if they still apply? Were they ever in our best interests? If we ever intend to be mindful, successful, and truly enjoyed our lives, we need to think for ourselves.

How to use it

How can we use both instant gratification and delayed gratification to achieve be happy, lower stress, balanced, yet successful and meaningful lives that we all desire?

  • Can we save for the future and indulge in some “luxuries” now?
  • Can we work hard and still find time for play today?
  • Can we have full lives and still take time for ourselves every occasionally?
  • Can we be disciplined, determined, and driven, yet still do something fun and frivolous with our time?

Your turn

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it…

Question this belief for yourself. Practice instant gratification at least once this week and see how you feel about it.

Your thoughts? Where do you fall on the spectrum?

Are you an instant gratifier or a delayed gratifier? How and why?

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What Are Your Absolute Minimums?

For my purposes, I define absolute minimums as the least amount of work, activity or progress you feel you must accomplish each day. If you can can successfully complete these absolute minimums each day you’ll make not only make significant progress toward your goals over time, but you’ll increase your overall sense of satisfaction with life.

Remember, slow and steady wins the race. You can always do more than your minimums and sometimes you will, but even small amounts of consistent action add up. All too often we get caught in the mental trap of believing that if we can’t commit a substantial amount of time and energy then we might as well not bother to do anything at all. That’s just not true.

What do you hope to accomplish? Where in your life do you most want to see progress or improvement?

Everyone will have different answers and only you can define for yourself what they are. It’s helpful to look at your core focus areas and determine what your absolute minimums are. I’ll share a snapshot of my absolute minimums based on my current focus list to get you started thinking. These are the things I have determined that I must do with consistency; both to achieve progress towards my goals and also to feel satisfied with my life.

My Absolute Minimums

  • Exercise a minimum of 20 minutes daily
  • Write for one hour
  • Connect with at least one child each day (one on one time, phone call or email/text conversation)
  • Find 30 minutes of alone time (crucial to my sanity)
  • Complete a minimum of 6 productive work hours each day – 4  during the summer
  • At least 30 minutes of one-on-one conversation face time with my husband
  • Spend 15 minutes on Social media for career
  • Check in with my Facebook community of friends and family

Your list will be different and it should be. The amount or complexity is up to you, but remember to keep it reasonable or you won’t be able to maintain your momentum. You can always do more, but this will be your “enough.” Use it as a guideline for how to use your day and as a structure for cementing healthy and productive habits.

What is on your absolute minimum list?

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Do You Have Tangible Interests?

English: Sir Winston Churchill.

English: Sir Winston Churchill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.”— WINSTON C HURCHILL


The life question to ask this week is … “Do you have real hobbies and/or interests?”

Can you describe your hobbies/interests to others?

Do your hobbies/interests create anything?

Do your hobbies/interests help you learn or enhance any skills?

Do your hobbies/interests bring you enjoyment?

I know that in this overscheduled, overwhelmed world it feels like we don’t have time for hobbies.

But we need to widen the scope of our lives in order to be whole people with a life that’s full. How can we be happy in an existence as work machines, with our focus placed narrowly on the drudgery of life. A happy life requires curiosity, interest and expression.

So, if you want to be “happy and  safe,” as Winston Churchill says, GET A HOBBY or two.





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Why Worry Impairs Progress


Worried! (Photo credit: photoloni)

We may feel insecure where our personal and professional projects are concerned and be compelled to devote ourselves to examining all that could potentially go wrong. Yet we may be unintentionally impairing our progress by indulging in this apprehension. We will likely find that we’re able to get more done and concentrate more fully on the task before us when we set our worries aside. The extra energy, time, and resources we gain by not worrying can better be applied to the pursuits most important to us.

The less we worry about the pursuits important to us, the more time and energy we have to devote to those pursuits. While anxiety can seem productive, as it often goads us into making difficult choices or immersing ourselves in challenging tasks, it nonetheless forces us to expend valuable resources in the contemplation of events that may never happen. When we banish worry, we can ground ourselves in the present and give 100 percent of our attention to the tasks and decisions before us. The resulting confidence allows us to ponder the future with unflagging optimism, ultimately empowering us to devote ourselves to ever more ambitious and grand dreams.

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