Thursday, August 24, 2006

Guest Blogging Continues:
What Do You Prefer?

Amanda Hirsch, who writes about creative living in her blog, Creative DC, will be writing for Hip Tranquil Chick this week while Kimberly is out of town and away from Internet access. Kimberly will be back on Sunday the 27th.

"To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive."
-Robert Louis Stevenson
Ok - get out a pen and paper, or open up a new file on your computer, and write down three things the world says you ought to do. You know what I mean: the "shoulds," the things that when you listen very carefully to that inner voice that is your truest self, you know aren't really "musts." They might feel like musts, but if you're only doing them because you think someone else thinks you should do them - they're shoulds.

Now, write down three things you'd rather do instead of the "oughts." Don't worry about being "weird" - first of all, no one will see this list but you, and second, what you call "weird," I call "interesting." At the risk of sounding overly grand: it's our preferences and pecadillos that make us rich characters on the stage of life. Some of the most interesting people in history - often the people we look up to and celebrate - are compelling because of their unapologetic uniqueness.

Some of you may want to take it to the next level, and actually enact some of your preferences. For others of you, this may take a while, and that's ok - to name what you prefer is to know what you prefer, and that's incredibly empowering in and of itself.

If at this point you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, with the shoulds and the oughts and the wants - here are some examples of what I mean:
  • Maybe the world says Friday night is for happy hour; maybe you prefer going home, soaking in a bath and reading your favorite magazine (it's ok, a lot of intellectuals buy US Weekly).

  • Maybe the world says your garden needs weeding; maybe you prefer to use the time to meet a friend for coffee, or go to one of those museums you've always meant to check out.

  • Maybe the world says you need to check your email constantly, all day long; maybe you prefer just to check it at designated times, so you can focus more time on other things. (I personally find that scheduling 2 hour-long slots for email in my day frees me up to be way more productive during other waking hours.)

  • Etc.
These are just a few examples. Your "oughts" might be much more silly or far more profound; only you know what they are. Whatever they are, I'd like to gently challenge you to make sure you know them - and, ultimately, to strive to live them. Your soul will thank you!

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Anonymous said...

thanks for this great posting. actually, after just yesterday listening to your podcast with kimberly, i took time after work to break my regular evening routine and try something more creative. instead of going home and cleaning or cooking (like i thought i "ought" to do), i lit a half dozen candles, sat at the table on my townhouse patio, and wrote in my journal by candle light. i listed out things in my day that made me happy and some things that i wish i could have done. i brainstormed on how i could incorporate more of those things into my life in the future. it's been very reassuring and inspiring to come across messages like yours that really resonate with what i'm feeling. i also truly believe that it's our funny idiosyncracies that make us all different and interesting, and i'm grateful for the time you've taken to reach out through the blog. many thanks!

Regina Clare Jane said...

Wow, that's a great idea. I have all these secret things that I would much rather be doing than what I ought to be doing, but actually putting them down on paper or on the computer really exposes me, I guess, even if only to myself. That can be huge, you know, exposing yourself, opening yourself up- goodness, that can even lead to, dare I say it?- creativity!
Great post again, Amanda!

Carolin said...

Dear Amanda, thanks for guest blogging whiel Kimberly is away. I listened to your podcast with Kimberly right after it was available (as I do with all of the HTC podcasts) and found this an inspiring and motivating experience. The "What do you prefer" posting is great as this simple question may turn out to be difficult to answer as we are often so conditioned to the shoulds and ougths that we don't even know what we prefer. So that is another great opportunity of simultaneously stepping out of old habits and thoughts and stepping in more towards ourselves. So keep posting things that make us think and act! Greetings from Germany!