Saturday, March 12, 2011

In Pursuit of Perfection?


Do you ever notice how often those words slip from your lips? Lately, I’ve been noticing that I ignore “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” a lot. With work, culinary school, family and friends, I have a busy schedule and often I find myself letting go of the things I “should” be doing just to get a few blissful moments of peace with a glass of wine and my DVR.
But is that helping me? Making me happier? I know folks who spend so much time doing what they should – eating salads for lunch, waking up early to go to the gym, doing yard work on Saturday, balancing their checkbooks, flipping their mattresses. Sometimes I hear these Type A personalities talking about their “to do’s” and I feel rather smug knowing that I myself am not a slave to “shoulds.” Sometimes I park myself on the couch from the moment I get home from work until the moment I go to bed. Sometimes I spend my Saturdays lallygagging. Sometimes I wait until the last possible moment to do an assignment for school. Sometimes I leave dishes in the sink. (OK. A lot of the time I leave dishes in the sink.) Sometimes I don’t blog for 5 months.
But this week getting ready for work, as I maneuvered around the laundry I haven’t done yet and determined that I did not have sufficient groceries in the house to whip-up a healthy breakfast in no time flat, I wondered if maybe those Type A people have it right. What is a normal “should” to “screw it” ratio? If you browse the pile of magazines geared towards women accruing under my coffee table, you’d find that you could occupy every moment of your time with tasks that would help you to have a happier / healthier / more beautiful / more time saving / more money saving / more stylish / more delicious / more fulfilling life. All with the end goal of having more time to spend doing the important things.
I got to thinking. What are the important things? Am I really a happier person because I’m not beholden to “shoulds?” Or just a lazier person? So I’m going to try an experiment. For one week, I’m going to do as many of the things one “should do” as possible. I’ll try it their way and blog about it. Off the top of my head, some “shoulds” I tend to ignore:

 Plan ahead in order to have a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.
 Not partake of the office vending machine.
 Do a load of laundry after work on most days rather than battling a giant pile.
 Keep the house immaculate.
 Drink plenty of water.
 Take my make-up off and moisturize before bed.
 Go to the gym 5 times a week.
 Make my bed every day.
 Catch up on the news every day.
 Iron my clothes.
 Not bite my nails.
These are, of course, not the most meaningful goals in the world. I could be striving for world peace and understanding. I also started writing this on Thursday, before the Japanese earthquake. So for this week, fear of seeming frivolous aside, my goal is to see if doing all the things “they” tell you that you should will make you a better human. And blog about it at the end of each chore-filled day. In the meantime, let me know what “shoulds” you find especially important (or annoying.) Is there anything you think I should throw in for good measure? Monday will be day-one of Super Kate. See you then!


Rebecca Jennings said...

I grew up in a very clean home (excluding my bedroom). A few weeks ago I asked my mom how she did it. She worked, cooked and cleaned. Not to mention my activities she had to go to. Between my mom's advice and my aunt's (who also had a huge, very clean house) the tips I got were to have a place for everything and always put things away in their proper place. Never go to bed with dishes in the sink, laundry not put away or a mess left out. Basically i am suggesting you head the advice most of us hear our whole life. Pick up after yourself and do not put off to tomorrow what you can get done today. Oh, and eat your veggies!

Jamie Samons said...

I suggest you add: Do something hilariously fun every day! I hope your 5-day/week gyn thing means I'll see you in spin class!

Jamie Samons said...

Crap. "gyn" should by "gym." I am NOT suggesting that I hope to see you at the GYN. Just clarifyin'.

Kate Lowther said...

Is this "kick my ass in spin" Jamie? Yeah. I'll be there.
Wow, Providence is small. :)

Rebecca - you're one of THOSE people, aren't you?

Stephanie said...

When I was in high school, I found this quote on a tea bag and decided it summed up my philosophy about the "shoulds":

"It is not doing the thing we like to do, but liking the thing we have to do, that makes life blessed." — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I probably seem like a type A person - I was totally doing yard work on Saturday - but really, I just try to enjoy my "shoulds". I don't enjoy all of them, as my not-put-away-laundry or old-things-in-fridge may reveal.

I'm really into the idea of forming "good habits" - once you have a good habit, it's almost as easy to do as a bad one. Almost.

Rebecca Jennings said...

Dude, totally not one of 'those' people!!!! I come from those people so I'm conflicted!! Before Jack I would skip cleaning for napping, now I am required to clean. :(. Still not very efficient though. Good luck on the rest of your week!

Rebecca Jennings said...

Dude, totally not one of 'those' people!!!! I come from those people so I'm conflicted!! Before Jack I would skip cleaning for napping, now I am required to clean. :(. Still not very efficient though. Good luck on the rest of your week!