“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.” - Susan Cain
Or, more simply put, DON’T SHOULD ALL OVER YOURSELF.
This is hard. It sits squarely in the same camp as comparison robbing you of your own joy. But we are bombarded every moment of every day by what we “should” be doing with our time. As if invisible judgers were following us around constantly making negative comments about our choices and activities.
Who needs that?
Here’s an example: I remember a conversation I had with a mom of 2 young kids. We were out having coffee and at one point she leaned over the table and whispered to me, “I know this is really bad, but Tommy hasn’t been sleeping and after I dropped the kids off at school yesterday I came home, got into bed, and watched 3 episodes of Grey’s Anatomy before I had to go pick them up.” I was like, “That’s great! Did you feel better afterwards?” She replied shamefacedly, “Well yeah, but I should have gone to the gym, I should have started the laundry, I should have done the breakfast dishes, I should have done my emails…but all I did was sit and watch tv!” She felt so guilty and terrible about taking that restful and rejuvenating time for herself because she felt like she should have been doing something else.
But maybe that’s why “free” time is called that. Because we’re FREE (translate to ALLOWED) to spend it the way that we like. Period. It’s nobody else business what you like to do in your free time and it’s not your business what someone else likes to do during theirs. (Despite what internet trolls might have to say.)
Why is this so hard? Why do we set impossible standards for ourselves in which we don’t allow ourselves time to really do what we enjoy? In order to really choose happiness for ourselves we need to turn off those voices in our heads that tell us what we like to do with our free time isn’t enough. We need to once-and-for-all banish those invisible judgers who are following us around making us feel inadequate or incompetent. We only get so much free time in a week or a month or a year - when it’s yours, spend it doing what makes YOU happy. The dishes and the laundry will still be there, I promise.