I love a list. I’m known for making them for most areas of my life. In the office, I’m surrounded by to-do lists that even have their own to-do lists in priority, date and, sometimes, colour order. At home, I write lists for things I want to do around the house; things I need to buy next time I’m in Sainsbury’s; lists of Christmas present ideas. You get the picture.
So when I read in a book I’ve been loving recently called The Happiness Project that one should not just focus on the much loved ‘to-do’ lists but also have their very own ‘to-don’t’ list, I was intrigued. Why write a list of things you don’t want to do? Surely you’ll remember the things you don’t want to do?
But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there are certain things that one should be reminded not to do and to have a physical list of them can help to enforce this. So I thought I’d give it a try. Here’s my essential ‘to-don’t’ list that’s fast becoming just as important as my trusty ‘to-do’ ones…
Don’t be too hard on yourself
I am, without doubt, my own worst critic. If something goes wrong, big or small, I am the first to blame yours truly. But it’s a lesson I’m learning more and more the older I get that you can’t be too hard on yourself. We’re only human and are bound to make mistakes. Give yourself a break every now and then and shrug off that nasty feeling of ‘it’s all my fault’.
Don’t let one bad day of eating define the week.
We’ve all been there; we go to bed on a Sunday night vowing to change our eating habits and eat more fruit, vegetables and quinoa. Monday goes well and we congratulate ourselves on our amazing new health routine. We even swear we’ve lost a pound or two. And then Wednesday comes along and you realise there’s till three days until the weekend and the only way to console yourself is through a ginormous bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut. From then on, we think ‘what’s the point?’ and go back to eating unhealthily again. I’ve been there and done that but one thing I try my hardest to remember is that one bad day does not mean I can spend the rest of the week gorging. It’s fine to slip every now and then. Just pick yourself up again the next day.
Don’t go to bed on an argument
Whilst my boyfriend and I rarely argue, we naturally bicker like any normal couple. But one thing I’ll always make sure of is that we don’t go to sleep having not resolved an issue. Not only will you sleep better, your relationship will benefit from starting a fresh slate each day when it’s possible. Research shows that 20 seconds of hugging can reduce stress significantly; so hug it out and make up before you turn the lights off.
Don’t forget to tell your family you love them
If you don’t see your family regularly, it can sometimes slip your mind to remind them how much they mean to you. My family mean the world to me and have supported me through an awful lot over the years but I know that I don’t tell them I love them enough. Life is too short to not remind those around you that you care and that you’re grateful.
Don’t forget to floss
No one loves flossing but everyone knows why we should do it. So do it. Simples.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
So you forgot to put the bin out; you’re having a bad hair day or you can’t make that friends’ birthday party because you’ve got a stinking headache. These might, at the time, seem like devastating things to cause your blood pressure to sky rocket but in reality, they’re small. Compared to some things other people are going through, or things you might have to go through in the future, it’s not worth sweating over. Life is for living, not for worrying over whether you switched the bathroom light off or not.
DON’T GIVE UP
We all have days where the only solution would appear to be crawling under the duvet and giving up. But that’s not the way to make things better. If you’re having a hard time, or you’ve had a stressful day, don’t give up and throw the towel in. In the words of Albert Einstein: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”