by KATE HUNTER
Through life, we collect gems of wisdom which act as signposts on our journey. They might come from our grandparents, our teachers or, more recently, in Facebook memes. Because she’s an old-fashioned kinda gal, Rebecca Sparrow found one in a book, and wrote about it last year:
“I heard something recently that made me stop and think. It was from Elizabeth Gilbert – the author of that mega-seller Eat Pray Love. Stop rolling your eyes. I know her book divided people into two camps. The couldn’t-put-it-down camp and the this-is-self-indulgent-drivel camp. Personally, I liked it. And I like Gilbert. So I’m watching an old TV interview with her and she’s talking about how crazy her life has been post-Eat Pray Love. And then she said, “I’ve worked out I’m my best person when I have less on my plate.”
And for whatever reason that quote resonated with me. When I’m stressed and my life is crazy busy, I’m not a great person to live with. And I think Gilbert is right – for me anyway – I am my best person when I have less on my plate. I’m less stressed. And I’m happier. Which in turn means I can give more. And instead of doing a half-assed job on a dozen things, I can give proper attention and care to say six. Okay, three.
“In our world there is still kudos gained from being ‘busy,” says Jo Basset, creator of the website Living Savvy. “There is a misbelief that busy people are important people or doing important things. In my quest to live a savvy life I endeavour to live a life that is full and filling not busy, juggled and stressed.”
Full and filling – not busy, juggled and stressed. I can’t think of a better mantra to take with me into my fortieth year. Along with an emptier plate.”
Of course, if you tried to live by ALL the fabulous, inspirational pieces of advice you hear and see, you’d end up in therapy, getting more advice. So we need to be selective.
I stopped pinning meaningful phrases above my desk a few months ago. The sheer volume was getting me down, which was defeating the purpose. I’m trying to hold just three pieces of advice in my mind.
1) Put all your eggs in the family basket. This was from writer Frances Whiting. Bec (Mamamia’s Contributing Editor) told it to me when I was struggling with whether or not I could do a job. How could I decide? The pros were even Stevens with the cons – I was stressed and confused. Could I have a bet each way? The family basket advice bought clarity and simplicity to my decision.
Life isn’t a share portfolio – I’m not diversifying. Nothing offers greater returns than investments you make in your family. Of course, Bec also once talked me into having my eye makeup done at a shop at Sydney airport – not all her advice is gold.
2) Bite Off More Than You Can Chew, Then Chew Like Hell. This was from my brother in law. He’s a politician, so I normally take his advice with a fistful of salt. But I’m a procrastinator with a low boredom threshold. Unless I have a deadline and an impossible task to complete, I’ll Google ‘Funny Dog Names’. So I often take on things I shouldn’t – like signing a contract to write a novel I hadn’t started. I very nearly choked a dozen times, but I kept on chewing and somehow got it done.