13 February 2009

Three Things

I checked this book out of the library when I lived in Valdosta. I don't remember the name of it but it was something along the lines of Finding Happiness in America or some such (editor's note: he has no idea, he just made that title up). Some years later I read a book called Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, and the two books had similar purposes and frankly similar messages; I suspect both were written by Jungians.

Anyway. One of the points in that book--not the focus of it, but about the only real point I remember--was that an adult needs to have some things that are personally important that he or she does every day (or tries to). The notion is that you find three things (that's the number I remember, but it may have just been a suggestion) that matter a lot to you and you find a few minutes every day to do those things.

The point was that the things should not be spending time with your kids, or with your spouse, or networking, or anything like that; they should be things that are purely for you, for yourself. Me time, in other words. Seems part of the problem with people not being happy is fear or guilt about self-indulgence. The point was not to become a hedonistic jerk, but simply to remember that mature adults are not purely creatures of their society, work, or relationships, but that to be complete they also need to have things they do just for themselves.

I mentioned Finding Meaning etc above because the message was similar, and I actually remember more about that book, but a couple days ago the notion of "three things" returned to me. Now that I think about it, it may have been that you should find time every day to do at least one of the three things, or something. And of course I assume the three things are changeable, I mean, one of your three things may become less important to you. And I don't think the point was to set aside two hours a day, I think the point was that if you spent even five minutes on your three things you'd feel more complete and, importantly, be better able to project yourself positively in all the other areas of your life.

It sucks that I can't remember any more about this book because I'd like to look it up again. Anyway. I've decided what my three things are, at least for the time being. It's not that I feel the need to shout about what they are, but one of them of course is writing, and I was initially saying that I wanted my writing time to be spent necessarily on one of two projects I'm toying with. But some days, today being one, I only have a few minutes (I'm six minutes into this post so far and so should be wrapping it up, actually), and I think blogging is a perfectly good substitute for more substantive writing. Perhaps that is what this blog can be good for. Or, maybe I'll come up with something else. Anyway. So this was my writing me time today.

I think having three things is good. For someone in my position it actually is working opposite to the way it's intended; I figure I should spend my personal time--there's rather a lot of it--on these three things only, and spend the rest of the day working for other people--for my wife, say, or at Habitat for Humanity. Or being serious about job searching. And since writing is the only one of the three things likely to take longer than twenty minutes by itself I can spend a lot of time doing that on days where it makes sense to. Hey, wow. Organization for my structureless life.

This is why I read. You never when something you read eons ago in a book you can't even remember may come back to you and actually be worthwhile.


Ayzair said...

All very true. We've seen the benefit when Brad writes, and when I find a book I love. We need to work on finding a couple more things for each of us, though -- beyond the computer for him, and beyond daily tasks for me.

AMS said...

I agree with the 3 things concept entirely. Reading, scrapbooking, and piano...any one of those three things in a given WEEK and I'm happy. A person definitely has to carve out the things that make her soul tick, and not let those things get shoved into corners while the 'important' stuff gets done.