There’s a popular meme that’s made the rounds for the past couple of years that says: “Build a Life You Don’t Need a Vacation From.”
In theory, that’s a great idea. It means find work that pays so you don’t have to stress about keeping a roof over your head (although with the ridiculous cost of housing right now, that’s rarely possible) and food on the table, but that is also work that gives you pleasure and fulfillment.
That’s a good thing.
Most of us go through periods in our lives where we have to take whatever work we can get, because we need the money. Often, that work is exhausting and makes us feel bad about our lives, and it’s hard to gather the energy to move beyond it to something that suits us better.
But doing so is better for us physically, mentally, and that leads us to better opportunities financially.
How do you build that life?
Ignore those who tell you to stop buying yourself a coffee on the way to work and only buy generic brands. Yes, that saves some money in the short run. But at this point in the game, you’d be several hundred years old for it to add up to the deposit on a house.
Plus, denying ourselves small pleasures all the time is unhealthy. The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring has an article about small pleasures/small annoyances, and how they affect goals.
There’s a difference between enjoying a cup of coffee and blowing the entire family’s budget for the month at a casino in one night. Understanding the difference and learning how to create small, enjoyable daily rituals helps in energy management so that you have the clear mind and strength to build the rest of what you want and need in your life.
One of the things we have to let go of is the sense that pleasure is a sin, and the term “guilty pleasure.” I do not feel guilty about that which gives me pleasure. And it doesn’t make it more titillating and exciting if it is “forbidden.” I am an adult. Others don’t get to “forbid” my choices, unless it is a choice that actively harms them.
Defining pleasure as sin and something wrong is an oppressor’s tool. Embracing our pleasures is a radical act. Much like rest is a radical act in a society that demands you literally work yourself to death for someone else’s profit, pleasure is also a radical act. Pleasure takes many forms, and is a threat to bullies and oppressors, because it teaches people that there is sensation beyond feeling hopeless or like the only way to have control is to harm someone else.
Start building acts of pleasure into your daily life, and you will be on the way to building a life that energizes you, rather than depletes you.
Doing work you love, however, will not negate the need for vacations. We all need breaks and change, even from the good stuff. We need to replenish our creative and energetic wells. If you don’t follow the Nap Ministry on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thenapministry/), I highly recommend them. And I am someone who does not nap; a nap at the wrong time will throw me off for days, thanks to my sleep issues.
But I’m learning how to court rest.
For someone whose career was built on 18 hour or more days, working in theatre and film production, this is a huge, terrifying shift. But it’s necessary.
I will always need and want vacations. But I am building a life that doesn’t make me want to run screaming away from it, or go home crying every night and then again every morning (the way I did a few years ago, when I landed what I thought was my dream job, and instead worked under the most toxic boss I’d ever experienced).
Do something TODAY just because it makes you happy.
Then do something tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.
Build. That. Life.
Drop your favorite pleasures in the comments!