First, are you living a knee-jerk lifestyle?
To some extent, we all bow to the culture’s expectations and add unnecessary items in some way or another. We didn’t used to. As children we hopped on the backs of park sculptures, had fun and didn’t care who watched. In fact, we craved the positive attention of others, wanting them to not only watch us, but join in. Except now it’s reversed.
The culture attempts to draw us in. Own own quirky ways are being diminished by the sameness that society impresses upon us.
Let’s develop a definition.
A knee-jerk lifestyle is living by default, without thinking or considering what is best for the long term; the unchallenged “have to’s” in life based on cultural expectations.
So here are my top 3 life-changing ways to resist the knee-jerk lifestyle and remain the quirky you that we all know and love:
Step 3. Say “No” Often
We all know that saying “yes” to everything means saying “no” to excellence.
I used to be invited to an amazing cookie decorating party. It was like the event of the season. Everyone who was anyone came. Artistic women and their children upstaged me (an art major) every time. I’d have been embarrassed if I wasn’t so impressed.
I attended a couple years out of obligation and then I realized that while it was fun, it didn’t add to my life and I’d rather participate in something more meaningful with those closest to me. After declining the invite for 3 years I was taken off. Maybe it was a coincidence, but it was a relief to no longer have to say “no.”
Now I have space for meaningful holiday moments and we can make them as traditional or quirky as we desire. In this way, we become authentic and purposeful.
If you want to embrace a purposeful life, you must become skilled at saying “no” to good and exciting opportunities.
Step 2. Fight for Contemplation
Focusing on one task/goal at a time will greatly reduce your distractions. Distractions steal silence and thoughtfulness from our minds. Here is a recent post I wrote on how to cultivate silence.
The ability to focus is almost lost.
I bet you’ve checked a text message or Instagram like on your phone (or were tempted to) while you’re reading this article. I’ve actually checked mine like 10 times and I’m realizing how long this will take if I don’t focus!
Each interruption that knocks, I choose whether or not to answer or stay the course. Don’t play games with yourself. We all know the difference between a distraction and a necessary emergency that requires our attention. Consider the fact that contemplation only graces the restful mind. And rest is not randomly found, but intentionally cultivated.
We must fight for these lovely intangibles. They are a lifeline to living purposefully.
Step 1. Find Like-Minded Peeps
This may seem counter-intuitive when we think about differentiating ourselves, but we all adore natural relationships and it’s about more than being unique and purposeful…it’s about having a cohort to do it with.
They get you; you get them; no explanations are necessary. Your Vin-diagrams overlap like 80+%!
My trouble is that I attempt to make connections with everyone. And yes, this includes the telemarketer who called me, the sales rep from T-mobile and the grocery store checker.
When I spread myself too thin, I lose my quirky side and I begin to chameleonize.
But I find fulfillment when I step back, and focus on people that I most care about. When we remember the people who are most valuable to us, we can truly appreciate the little nuances that make use unique.
Choose to embrace what really matters, instead of what the culture says “should” matter.
Action Steps: Questions to ask yourself
Do you say “yes” more than “no” when it comes to filling your calendar?
Do you have space to ponder?
Do you have people in your life that are aware of the knee-jerk lifestyle and desire to fight alongside you?
Look at your calendar. Observe the natural rhythm. You may need to fight for silent space to contemplate what change to implement.
Consider crossing something off and try it out. Feel the freedom that comes with opening up your life a bit.
What’s the activity you are willing to cross off and see what happens?
Have you done this in the past? Tell me what happened as a result. I’d love to hear your story.