It is presently 6:21am. I am sitting in my dimly lit kitchen on the East side of Prospect Park with a small cup of coffee resting on the boldly flowered tablecloth. It is chilly. Cold air is pressed against the window to my right. Outside, up past the black outline of the neighboring building, looms a dark purple sky.
It’s a new day.
It baffles and and humbles me how many new days I’ve already gotten in this life. Each one arrives like a gift at the other end of a night of sleep. Each one brimming with potential for wins and fails, welcome highs and unforeseen lows.
The art of living out these days is certainly the most exciting art form I’ve encountered thus far. And recently I’ve been experimenting with a shift in how to go about my days that has been unexpectedly liberating.
If you are anything like me, each day you have a list of to-dos. A certain number of tasks you feel you need to take care of. You probably also have things that are in your awareness that aren’t on your to-do list like calling your mom back, or making soup, or planning a Blessingway for your pregnant friend.
It is likely that in order to decide which to-do to do, you logically rank them by level of importance. It is also likely that as you work your way through your to-dos, some tasks feel easy to accomplish and others feel painfully challenging to get done – that you might be dragging your feet as you try to push through on your logical course.
In my opinion this is no way to live. Because if you’ve got a list of to-dos practically every day of your life and you spend a large portion of that day in a state of resistance, you are not fundamentally enjoying the gift of that day. And to-dos are like holes in the sand – each time you dig through them, more will fill in to that hole that need doing.
So let us not deny the fact that life is one never-ending to-do list. So it is of supreme importance that we find a joyous and liberated way to live out our daily to-dos.
Great news! I found one. This morning I’m sharing with you a better way to do your to-dos: Entirely based on instinct.
Brain scientists have discovered that the urge to do something arises deep in the recesses of your mind before you have a conscious thought about it. By the time it bubbles to the surface, there’s already momentum behind that idea. But then when it surfaces, if you’re living a logic-based life, your mind might suddenly ixnay it because it has a “better idea”. Such a buzz kill!
Your logic mind essentially thwarts the natural urge of this instinct and swats it back down. This is very uncomfortable and can make you feel quite a bit of inner conflict.
So here’s the solution: Just do what instinct first alerts you to. Literally, the first thought that pops into your head, do it. Even if it’s not perfectly synched up with your logic. If you had calling your mom at the bottom of your list (or not even on it), but when you sit down to decide what to do, mom pops up. Don’t hesitate. Call her.
If you had writing a formal email response to one of your bosses on the top of your list, but what pops into your head is I must make soup, don’t hesitate, make soup.
And if you’ve been procrastinating putting up a new page on your website advertising a new service you want to offer, and that pops up loud and clear, don’t hesitate, do it.
The idea here is that you treat the first instinct as God. Even if it is taking a walk in the park when you consider that a luxury that you only relegate to Sunday.
By making your new rule be that instinct rules, it’s going to clean out all that ceaselessly obnoxious “logical” mental chatter. AND you are going to find out that you instinctually know how to organize your to-dos much better than you thought.
At first I found this approach to to-dos to be rather scary. I worried that I wouldn’t instinctually do the necessary stuff (those things that fall into the urgent and important category if you’ve ever read Steve Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”). But again my logic was throwing up false alarms. All things are taken care of, in their right timing when I follow my instinct.
OF COURSE my instinct knows how to order my days. And when I just listen and respond to what instinct presents, the gift of each day reveals itself to be so much more divinely ordered than I could have possibly planned out.
It is now 7:21am. Out the window the sky has turned to a pale periwinkle blue. My coffee cup is empty. And I’m going to await the next instruction from my instincts…. ah! Shower. Good idea.
Wishing you a wildly instinctual day…
And please pass this along to anyone you know who is uncomfortably buried in logic.