The rules of life can be overwhelming. It can often appear as though our every days are black and white with little to no gray, no wiggle room. We are mostly conditioned this way as we are raised, from childhood until we become adults. We follow the rules of the house as governed by our parents; we follow the rules at school to avoid punishment or demerit; and arriving in “the real world”, as we’ve heard it before, we comply with the regulations and standards of professional (and unprofessional) working environments so that we can keep our jobs, provide for ourselves and our families, have food on the table, and buy experiences to enjoy this life.
Well, what if someone told you that you could not only bend the rules, but break them and still see that you are able to enjoy this life? Yes. You can completely rethink how you organize your life, go about rearranging it, and not only remain afloat, but start to see that you become lighter and are merely hovering over the water’s surface.
Isolating the why behind what we do every day is how we can identify our foundation from which we build. Once we come face to face with the reasoning behind our actions and motives, we can then begin to build something that looks very different. In the mornings, I have been developing a routine that has both energized me and allowed for productivity. This passed month I was in a position to sort of break the rules that I’ve been putting in place and see what new thing I could come up with. While getting up right away and making the bed, drinking my lemon water, preparing breakfast and then tea or coffee, sitting down to meditate and practice yoga serve me well a majority of the time, I have realized that it isn’t so cut-and-dry.
Every day isn’t the same. It isn’t always one way or the other; it’s really quite varied. Just as I remind myself before hopping on my yoga mat that today isn’t like yesterday, and tomorrow won’t be like today, I am learning to accept that I’ve just gotta feel how I do when I feel it. I might be grumpy and unsettled on one day, and more cheerful and light the next; but it’s so important that we acknowledge this in our individual lives and spread that compassion into every corner.
This morning, I actually had a hard time moving quickly through my routine. If I generally eat by a certain time, and get dressed by a certain time, and prepare my lunch by a certain time, then I can make it on time to work. Well, some days I’m just not able to wake up as easily or move quickly enough to get everything done that I set out to, and that just has to be okay. So, the bed doesn’t get made today or the dishes are left for later, and that’s okay.
While I started this post on the idea of rules as we know them in our professional lives and trying to instill order everywhere at every age and season in life, we really get good at fine tuning and directing. We get so good that we really box ourselves up and make it difficult for rest and play to come into the picture. Everything has a way, an order, a direction, and going against the grain feels so extraordinary. It feels wrong. But I think what’s more important to remember is that we can be purposeful in our lives while still allowing for change or instance.
As much as we have control over so many things, it’s really unfortunate how often we don’t allow ourselves to just let go. Let things be as they are and pick up where we left off later. The bed will get made, and the dishes will eventually make their way to the drying rack, dinner will be solved, the bills will get paid, you will be forgiven, it will be forgotten, and you will have peace as a result.
Breaking the Rules
Personally, I am just at the beginning of my breaking the rules journey. I love discipline and order and grasping control as much as I can, but little by little, I am finding that things are way more fun when they’re spun around and look a little different afterwards. I don’t mean that we should all be defiant and turn our backs from what matters. Not in the least. Rather, as I’m sure you can understand by now, I just mean that we have got to get better at being creative. Some things just don’t allow for fuzziness, and we can accept that and move on, but instead, let’s just look at all the other areas in our lives that can be painted a different color, so to speak.
Examine something that you do every day that you do not enjoy. Then, determine why you don’t enjoy it. Consider if you dislike something just sometimes, some days, or if there is no shaking you from your distaste. If it’s every once in awhile that you don’t enjoy this thing you do every day, then let’s set this aside for a moment; because if you are doing something every day, yet aren’t finding any fulfillment in it, then this is exactly the rule we need to break.
I understand that this question might lead you to say, “I hate going to work every day,” which is a normal response, but let’s break that down a little bit too. What about going to work every day do you not like? Is it the waking up early, having so much to do in the morning before you leave the house, or something even more abstract like hating all the clothes in your closet? I know that this seems so arbitrary, but these reasons are very real reasons and can really affect someone’s entire outlook on going to work every day, aside from simply not liking his job.
Reassemble your why. So, we’ve pointed out something in our daily lives that we don’t look forward to. We’ve also gotten to the bottom of why we don’t look forward to it. Minus the fact that it’s just another rule, either set by someone else or ourselves, it’s time that we put our why together in a different way so that it leads to joy or fulfillment or ease or peace. If you don’t like going to work because you don’t like the clothes in your closet, then change the way you view your clothes, and change the way you view your job and what your clothes say about you.
Spoiler: I work in a warehouse, and I don’t have many clothes that I can wear for my job. I simply do not have them. Sure, I can sit around all day and fuss about wearing the same jeans Monday through Friday, or I can choose to wear the same jeans every day of the week, choose to wear the same shoes every day, and choose to wear the same sweatshirt halfway through the week with just one or two alternatives. You might think that someone is watching you and judging your outfit every day, but more than likely, they aren’t.
Okay, did you see how I broke the rules, that are heavy throughout childhood, but don’t have to be heavy forever? I didn’t spend any extra money, nobody was harmed in the process, and still I show up for work every day. I seized control of my insecurities so that my insecurities didn’t seize control over me. And then I let go, and now it’s the best thing in the world not to think about what I’m going to wear to work tomorrow. If I’m scrambling around to get out the door in the morning, I can be sure that there is one less decision on my plate and therefore one less thing to worry about.
From time to time, it’s good to reflect on our daily life. Life goes through seasons and what’s a priority today just might not be as important a few months down the road. People change. We change our minds, we adopt information, we develop a vocabulary for our thoughts and feelings and dreams and desires. Day to day, we don’t feel the same, and with that compassion we are harnessing, we can go easy on ourselves more often and accept the variances.
How to Break the Rules
Eat dessert first
There isn’t a rule against having something sweet in the middle of the day or sometime before dinner. You must have been telling yourself all this time that it’s a no-no. Well, welcome to paradise; it’s a yes-yes.
Have chocolate for breakfast
I don’t often recommend having a sweet breakfast over a savory, salty one, but in this case, we’re breaking the rules, right? Well, if we’re going to break the rules, it had better be to our benefit. Perhaps try a cup of homemade spicy hot chocolate with unsweetened raw cacao and dark chocolate, not to mention a delectable palate of warm spices. Raw cacao has traces of caffeine in it, so it can be the perfect complement to a savory breakfast, or a one-hit indulgent to start your day.
Lie in bed a little longer
Aren’t there any days in which you can just take your time getting out of bed? Think about it. The days of rushing out of bed are over. Be gentle to yourself and enjoy waking up. Slowly peel yourself from your bed sheets, stretch to great lengths, and then eventually trickle your feet to the floor. Go ahead, guide prescribed.
Ask for what you want
Recently, I learned that by asking for what I want, there’s a much higher chance that I will get it. I’ve been doing this at work and at home, and I’ve been most satisfied with the results. Your turn now. What will it be?
Stay up late just talking & listening
Those rare moments when you’re on the listening end, or you find your words well and you’re torn between calling it a night and staying in the conversation: stay awhile. Enjoy. Most likely, you and the other person really need it.
Ask for help
The village wasn’t built by just one person. It took many people. It also took the whole village to look after the kids. Don’t expect to do it alone. Sure, give it your best shot; then ask for help.
Buy yourself flowers
The truth is, my husband bought me flowers this week, but that’s only because I haven’t bought them for myself lately. A nice little reminder, and a wonderful surprise, but notable to add that there’s no reason to wait around for something like that. Flowers are lovely, and bring life to the room, and they look great on the dining table. So, buy them whenever you need a little lift, eh?
Keep the dream alive
Your dreams are real and valid, and they are part of you. They are you. Never believe that anything is just a dream. Maintain your excitement through inspiration; read about it; designate time to envelop yourself in your vision, in your goals. Keep on dreaming, and then keep making them come alive.
You should be nearly in tears with joy when the image consumes you. Do you want something so badly, you feel as if you’ll explode with desire? Okay, now we’re getting somewhere…
Rearrange the furniture
I recently plugged in a small lamp in our living room once I realized it might be awhile before we bought one for that room, but realized how desperately we need one. Besides, we don’t sit at the desk anyway. Over time, I start to think of ways to create more space in the house, or to consolidate a mess, organize a cabinet, or make use of a table in a new way. Moving things around can stimulate the brain for more creativity and as a result, you get to see things in a whole new light – perhaps literally!
I spent quite some time really deciding the wording for this post’s title. I considered saying Forget the Rules, but realized that knowing the rules is all part of the rebuilding process. I decided that Bending the Rules was still leaving the leash a little short. Neither one really gave us the permission to completely rework how our minds think about the why behind what we do every day. While the why is the essential ingredient of what we do, it is also what leverages us to completely reframe and redefine our ambitions, goals, and motives.
I’d like to leave something for you to ponder today, a question. Who says that we need to be miserable while our finances are out of shape? Plug in any adjective to describe your distress, any noun, and any situation to describe what’s going on in your life right now. From here on out, I choose to enjoy. I choose to accept any and all circumstances; I choose to change them both in real meaning, in the rebuilding process, and in vocabulary. Seize or be seized.
Please join me in this discussion. What rule will you be breaking today? Let me know in the comments below & thanks for joining me.