As a psychotherapist, over the years’ I’ve heard many people say that they don’t have enough of the good things in life. This column looks at a few of the things that I think really matter:
Fun: Enjoyment, amusement and pleasure…that’s a good definition of fun. To quote San Diegan Dr. Seuss: “Today is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.” To which you may reply: as if. Fun doesn’t have to be expensive or dramatic. You don’t need a trip to Europe; you could instead enjoy an afternoon in Balboa Park, a hike at Mission Trails or a great comedy movie. Your definition of fun is your own; all that matters is that you include it in your life on a regular basis.
Friends: If you have 2 or 3 good friends you can call at midnight when a truck hits your car and you’re in the ER (this happened to me), then you probably have enough friends. Many people we call friends are really acquaintances: you know a bit about them, but they really aren’t people you can count on. A friend may not like your situation, but they’re gonna get out of bed and drive to the ER to sit with you for 6 hours until the doctor will see you.
Sex: Sex is something that our bodies want, need and deserve. It’s exciting, bonding, relaxing (at its best) and a great part of being human. At its core, sex is a pleasure. Don’t do it as an obligation. Do you have enough pleasure? If not, you may enjoy more sex: alone or with others. Not sure you’re having enough? If you find you’re more than usually annoyed with your partner (or people in general), you probably aren’t.
Alone time: Without alone time, it’s easy to lose your center and start to “spin out” when things don’t go your way. You don’t have to meditate or pray to be alone, just take time throughout your day to enjoy the sunshine, your cat or a cup of coffee. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg sums it up nicely:
New York Times: Do you think that the constant tug of our computers and smartphones makes it harder for people to create space to build that relationship with themselves?
Diane von Furstenberg: No. I think the relationship you have with yourself is everywhere, every moment of the day — to be able to be alone, to be able to think, to be able to count on yourself, to be able to console yourself, to be able to inspire yourself, to be able to give yourself advice. You are your best friend.
Money: What is enough money? Enough to easily pay all your bills and have some left over for fun. Enough to save for emergencies and toward retirement. Money isn’t a goal, it’s a vehicle. It’s a path to get where you want. You may think you want a home of your own, but you really want to feel safe and happy, and you think a home will take you there. You may think you need a raise at work, but you may simply need to feel appreciated and valued. There are all kinds of advice books about money, and having it doesn’t mean you feel great (although it does give you lots of options), so perhaps what you really want is to feel secure.
Structure/spontaneity: Some of us are way too structured – we plan things to death. Without a plan, our anxiety jumps. On the other hand, some of us are so loose that we rarely get anything done. When I work with overly-rigid clients, we focus on how to gradually experience NOT planning. It usually invokes anxiety (at first), but that shifts over time. If you never get much accomplished, I’d help you to begin to create more structure in your life and to reward yourself when you accomplish your goal(s).
This list is really just the beginning. I invite you to sit down and make an “enough/not enough” list. It’s good to know that some areas of your life are just fine, and it’s helpful to notice where there is a lack, so you can begin to change that.
Either way, may you enjoy the process.