Is doing what feels good the same as doing whatever I want? At first glance it seems to be. After all, wouldn’t I feel good if I did whatever I wanted? There is a subtle difference. Doing what feels good is more heart-centered and doing whatever I want is more self-centered. Let me explain.
While walking the dog, I was contemplating this question. Then the moment arrived when he did his “business.” The dog poop was the answer. (No, I don’t read dog poop like others read tea leaves.) If I only did what I wanted, then the possibility was there to leave the dog poop. And while picking it up doesn’t give me those “warm, squishy” feelings of good, it does make me feel good to know that I am doing my part in helping to keep the neighborhood beautiful.
So, I guess the answer lies in motivation. What is my motivation for doing what I
do? The motivation can be the blessing that helps me feel good. Where does the motivation come from? Ultimately, it comes from inside. And here is where the catch is – if the motivation is coming from the outside, such as looking for approval from others, while the task may get done, it doesn’t feel as good as if the motivation were to come from within.
For myself, this is shown when my stubborn devil pops up. I love to write, but for too long, I tried to fit the mold of a stay-at-home mom. There are a zillion different variations of this model, but I chose one that didn’t fit with my desire to write. Who knows why? I thought I had to always be available for the kids. So consequently, I would sit in the kitchen during downtime, doing whatever, but not much of anything, waiting for them to need me. When I wanted time alone, I went to my room to read. And then my body rebelled with aches and pains when I wasn’t paying attention to what I really wanted to be doing.
You see I often did what I thought other people wanted me to do or what I perceived to be the “right” thing. I tried to be someone I wasn’t. But, hey. That is the lucky thing about getting older. We keep learning. Now, when the kids are busy (also older and not needing as much attention), I am writing. They would have been happy with me writing long ago, however, it was me who was holding back because of what I thought I should do. In fact, for eight years I was writing and editing a business newsletter, but because my inner desire and what I thought I should do didn’t match up, I wasn’t happy.
The gurus out there talk about finding our purpose in life. I always thought being a mother was enough, but for me, there is more. So now, many years later, with three of the kids grown and the last in middle school, and many journals and starts at writing behind me, I’m finally, doing my purpose — what I love – writing. Writing makes me feel alive. I can write for eight hours and feel that no time has gone by. In fact, recently, I sat down with an idea, wrote, shut the computer, opened the computer (another idea had popped in my head), and then repeated the process over and over. My head wouldn’t turn off. At two in the morning, I finally called it quits only because I was concerned that I’d be too tired the next day. I felt so alive.
As a parent, I’ve come to realize that at some point it flips over from trying to please others to pleasing yourself. The kids have it right. They start out wanting to please themselves. So, who is really right? Are both? I guess it’s a balance.
I’m glad that I was there for them. But, perhaps if I had been happier during the process things might have been smoother. I am now listening to my feelings, writing often, and loving life, which is making me a better parent. I just needed to find the honest motivation within myself first.