notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Stop Doing That

All through our lives, we have to do stuff we really don’t want to do.

We all pay bills and taxes, and that really sucks. I wish my Grandma was here with her little change purse, giving me a quarter right now.

We all obey laws – stopping at red lights and picking up dog poop – although not at the same time of course.

We also obey people that we don’t necessarily agree with or respect.  I have several bosses that come to mind right now. There are lots of people in the world telling us what to do all our lives and we just grit our teeth and get it done.

Most of us have worked at jobs we hated at some point in our lives – and we stuck it out because of the economy or other pressures. Lack of options is the nastiest boss of all.

But sometimes we do stuff we dislike for no reason at all.

I’m here to tell you:  STOP DOING THAT!

That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to get to work on time or vacuum the house or tolerate the kids when they are at their most intolerable.

But here are just a few things you might want to chuck:

Finishing a book you aren’t enjoying. Boring? Annoying?  If you are no longer in school, put it down. Give it away. There are so many good things to read, don’t waste another minute on something that isn’t pleasing you. Right now I am exactly 56% (thank you for the precise stat, Kindle) into a book by a writer I greatly admire. But it’s just not working for me. I love her tweets; I love her blog. I do not like this book. I’m going to abandon it and read something I like.

Going to a party you’d rather skip. Skip it. I have spent 66 years going places I didn’t want to go. Sometimes – still – I have no choice. Family stuff is important, whether I feel like it or not. And sometimes I make the sacrifice because my husband wants to go – and I should do stuff that he likes once in a while. But not always. Like Larry David, I love cancelled plans. And although I don’t like to be rude by cancelling on a friend – it is not rude and it is not even cancelling if you say NO in the first place. New Year’s Eve? No thank you.

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Speaking of Holidays – here’s something I am slowly abandoning:  Christmas decorations. I love Christmas. But I hate pulling all of the accoutrements (I originally typed “crap”, but I will be nice) out of the attic and taking hours and hours putting them all over the house. And then spending the next few weeks policing the dog and the cats – “Don’t touch that!” If they are not supposed to knock over the Nativity or climb the tree – what is it doing there all shiny and interesting? And worse – far worse – taking down the tree, and putting all the crap  beautiful decorations back in the attic. So I am scaling back. This year I had a small tabletop tree in my living room and my best glass ornaments on my dining room sideboard.

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Small Christmas Tree – blocked by a bench. Dog is morose.

 

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The sum total of my Christmas decorations. With a baby-gate blocking the doorway.

 

Stop being mad at the person you are mad at right now.  I’ll bet at this very moment you are aggravated at someone. Your spouse. Your kid. Your father. Your boss. Just stop being mad. Is that possible?  Yes. Yes, it is. You don’t have to agree with whoever you are fighting with. But your anger isn’t really hurting anyone but yourself. Just tell yourself that you are moving on – and then move on. Give that person a call, a hug, a compliment. If your relationship is just horrible with that person, end it. But if it’s not so bad, then like them again. It’s that simple. Just decide.

And most important of all –

STOP this:

Comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone richer or prettier or more successful. Always. Don’t try to measure yourself against what you think other people’s lives are like. Because that is just your imagination looking at the outside of someone’s life. You don’t really know. Keep striving to make yourself into the person you really want to be. The person you want to love. In the meantime, like yourself at least as much as you like everyone else.

You may think your life is not as good as someone else’s. But unless you are living on the streets of Mumbai, you are probably okay.

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Photo: Meena Kadri, via Creative Commons, Flickr

43 Comments

  1. Exactly what I needed to read this morning as I am angry at my boss because she put my contract in late so I haven’t been paid and angry at everyone at work that has a permanent contract and don’t have to go through this shit every three months

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    • Well, I think you do have the right to be angry, but hopefully not for long.

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  2. Good points! I recently gave myself permission to not finish books. Not long ago, I abandoned one that wasn’t making me furiously happy. Or even happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ha! I think you have given me a good hint on which one…. I liked the first one though.

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    • I just abandoned Look at Me by Jennifer Egan. Great write up/review but I found it boring. So back to the library it went in a hurry.

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  3. After reaching a certain I stopped giving a s-it about what people think, do or expect. I do what I please as long I am not hurting anyone 😁

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    • That is a good attitude for letting go of anger too. Once you don’t care, it can’t make you mad.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Judith Lown

    I walk out of movies if I’m bored, life is too short!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is really brave of you. I have only walked out of one movie, and it was because I was scared, not bored.

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  5. Great advice! I, too, have cut WAY back on Christmas decorations.
    My favorite line in this entire post: “Lack of options is the nastiest boss of all.” So true.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks. I really have great empathy for people who really need to stay in jobs they hate. It’s a terrible way to live. But I encourage those who have no choice to find something they really love to do after work and on weekends.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I once asked a famous author at a book signing how long he gave a book before he gave up on it. Ten pages, he said. I gave his book fifty before I couldn’t stand it any more and stopped trying to read it 🙂 Felt pretty good.

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  7. Ann Y.

    I am a recently retired school librarian….when students would bring back books and say I did not finish it I would tell the exactly what you states – if you don’t need to read it for class, give it up. There are too many good books out there to read one you don’t enjoy. And…also love your idea of less Christmas stuff….we are downsizing, moving to an apartment home, getting things ready for yard sale and I am CLEARING OUT. Want to enjoy a simple holiday. Thank you for you great blog….and I really enjoyed YOUR book!!!

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    • I think you must have been a very good librarian indeed!

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  8. Lovely post! Super-librarian Nancy Pearl, author of Book Lust and other wonderful books about books, offers the best advice I know about how long to read a book that hasn’t engaged you: Up until age 50, give a book 50 pages and then decide. If you aren’t captivated, free it to be read and appreciated by someone else. When you are 51 or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number is the number of pages you should read before guiltlessly giving up on a book. Should we live to be 100, Ms. Pearl grants us the right to judge a book by its cover!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think this is an excellent measurement!

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  9. Excellent advice. Tonight I’m camping with only my dog. A way to get away from the television and my political junkie husband. We’ll sleep in a tent in the woods listening to the wind. Tomorrow is another day…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t especially like camping – but right at this moment, your evening sounds fantastic!

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  10. i like your artilcle, very inspiring and thank you for your post

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pam

    Ha, the dog is morose!!!

    Another thoughtful post, Nancy!

    I so agree with you about Christmas decorations, and since I don’t have grandchildren, I don’t see any reason to go all out with them. I do admire other people’s decorations. I let them do the work and then enjoy theirs. Instead, I also put up a small fiber optic, table top tree that takes all of 5 minutes to put up and take down. It is pretty enough! I put up a wreath on the door and buy a fresh poinsettia. That’s about it. Like you, I consider Christmas decorations to be crap, because they take up valuable storage space, they are always dusty, and I hate that old dusty storage smell when you take them out of the storage boxes. Yuk! And haven’t I already done this decorating thing for umpteen years? Call me a humbug, but I don’t enjoy that any more. I do like the music, the food, the parties, and the gifts for the kids in the family, though. I’m not a total humbug.

    I have learned not to compare myself to others. Their lives may look good on the outside, but everyone has their troubles, no matter who they are. All are subject to the human condition.

    Can I guess the author of the book you are not enjoying? I’m sure I haven’t read it, but does her name rhyme with bowling?

    That Mumbai picture is worth a thousand words. Yes, we are lucky.

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    • Not the famous author, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve given it up. And I agree, we only see the facade of someone’s life – and most especially on social media – the highly edited version. We don’t know what they are really going through.

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  12. Excellent advice, Nancy. I am with you on Christmas decorations, and am working towards getting my husband and son there too. I get closer every year.

    Forgiveness? Yup. My sister Judy (an alcoholic) fell off the wagon when our mom died, leaving my dad to grieve and deal with a drunk. I stayed mad for about two years. I finally forgave her. Six months later she was dead. Forgiveness? Yeah. NOW is the time.

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    • I am so heartened to hear you had the chance to forgive your sister before it was too late. Years ago my husband had a terrible falling out with friend, and they became bitter enemies. My mother-in-law passed away, and the former friend showed up at the wake – with a walker and oxygen… he was dying of cancer, but came to pay his respects anyway. My husband was greatly moved by the effort and they forgave each other.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I will feel glad for the rest of my life that I forgave her, hard as it was. And it makes my heart glad to hear of your husband and his friend. Life really is too short.

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  13. I love your advice. I am sick of doing stuff Zi don’t enjoy, so since retirement, I found East Zi want to do. I like socialize sometimes like play scrabble, bridge, or discussing a book Ruth really intelligent ladies. I don’t dress up much or wear makeup, because I don’t really care to do it anymore. I did it for 45 years as an educator/librarian/Director. I am happier than I have ever been in life. I love to be with my grandkids and my sons, my nieces, my nephews and my cousins. My husband has dementia, so I take him on short day trips to cultural events like plays, ballets, and interesting lectures. I pray a lot and read good books. I love taking my sons and grandsons out eat for family dinner. I cook every once in a great while, something in a crockpot or casserole. I am good with who I am now. Just do it folks, be yourself and go what makes you happy and treat folks as you would like to be treated. Thanks for your inspiration. Lizzy

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    • it sounds like have you found peace in your life. That’s a lot. Thanks for your kind words.

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  14. I can not, not finish a book! It doesn’t matter if I hate it. If I stop reading it then I feel like it won. I know, crazy! I’ll work on that.

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  15. Ray G

    To stop reading a book is super-easy if most of one’s books come from the library. To stop watching a rental DVD (Netflix) takes a little more courage, but not much more (except to acknowledge that one has made a serious mistake).

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    • I only walked out of a movie once in my whole life – and it was because it was scary, not bad. I’ll sit through a bad movie more easily than read a bad book.

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  16. When I think of all the time I have spent doing things I didn’t want to do, I could scream. But I have gotten much better at using that no word. Oh, also right with you about those “enchanting” Christmas decorations. I now understand my mother in law’s ceramic Christmas Tree and her glee in handing over to me her decorations.

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    • I love Christmas decorations. I just don’t want to do it anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Maureen

    Hi Nancy,
    I follow your blog and also Kate Crimmins’ blog and I am finding so many things I can relate to. I too got fed up with putting up all the Christmas stuff. I don’t have kids or (obviously) grandkids so there is nobody little to disappoint. My laziness first started with me leaving a 3 foot tree fully decorated and covered in plastic in my basement closet and, over time, finally progressed to a much smaller pre-decorated lighted tree and a few decorations like some nutcrackers, music boxes and other special trinkets. This year, after Christmas, I got rid of a bunch of decorations and put most of the things I put out at Christmas into a small decorative wooden chest that stays in my living room all year. Next year all I will have to do is open the chest, pull out the decorations, put my “regular” ornaments into the chest till after Xmas and then reverse the process when the holidays are over. That means I won’t be making umpteen trips up and down the basement stairs (which I am less and less fond of doing) to get everything and then put it all back.

    I also have decided that if I can’t stand a book, I won’t finish it. All I need do is ask myself the question: “Do I care how this ends?” If the answer is no, then usually I scrap the book for something more interesting. As I’m getting older I realize that nobody but me is keeping track and why am I even doing that? Life is too short to do things we no longer enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think Christmas music is an easy way to celebrate the holiday… I start right at Thanksgiving.
      Your attitude on books is healthy…. no one is keeping track!

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      • Hi Nancy, I enjoy your posts!

        Can you or Maureen or anybody tell me why it is only in the last few years that all these things make so much sense to me?

        Youth is wasted on the young they say, I’d like to be able to change that. I think reading blogs should be part of school….so many insights (not advice…which we all hate) that could make us feel free and happier at a much younger age.

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  18. I just KNEW there had to be another Person Like Me out there! I no longer finish books I don’t like, go to parties just because I’m invited, nor decorate for Christmas. (Though I did set out a bowl of some of my favorite ornaments). I also avoid people I don’t like, even those related to me. Thank you for validating my choices. xoxoxo

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  19. Haha. A lot of these “stops” are things I immediately implemented after my divorce. I hate parties, so I stopped going. I hate Christmas decorations, so my house only has a tree now. And I gave up reading books that bored me a long time ago.

    Quit comparing myself to others… that’s gonna be a tough thing to stop.

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    • It’s the difficult one for me too.

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  20. As the saying goes, “So many books, so little time.” I long ago gave up feeling compelled to finish books I’m not enjoying. Sometimes it’s hard, especially when “everybody” is raving about how great it is. Sometimes I look at the end to see how it turned out. Usually I find that I really don’t care and I’m glad I didn’t waste my time getting there.

    But…thank you for your advice about Christmas decorations! At one (happy) point I’d gotten rid of almost all of them, then they gradually began to accumulate again. My birthday is shortly before Christmas and people tend to give me Christmas “stuff,” as if I didn’t have enough. This year I’m going to get rid of everything that doesn’t make my heart sing. I’ll tell them Nancy said I could. 🙂

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    • I can just imagine how much Christmas stuff you get with a birthday like yours. My condolences.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Enjoyed the read, Thank-you.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Reblogged this on Living: the ultimate team sport and commented:
    We need to treat our time on this earth as more valuable than we are currently doing. TIME is fleeting, please believe that fact. COMPLAINING does nothing toward changing that which upsets us – when was the last time your screaming at traffic helped the situation? We’ll never get back the time we’ve spent doing worthless and unproductive things. And above all else, we need to spend more time being kind to ourselves, and to others. Time spent being kind will multiply itself exponentially. Try it, you’ll like it.

    Liked by 1 person

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