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Finding What’s Missing
October 26th, 2011

I was intrigued by Gretchen Rubin’s most recent tip for improving her level of happiness.  She advocates for getting up earlier.  She finds that waking up before the rest of her family provides her with quiet productive time that would otherwise escape her daily routine.  She comments, “I spend the hour from 6:00 to 7:00 working at my desk, and I love the light, and the quiet, and the sense of focus and freedom from interruption that I have during that hour. I wish I could go for a walk, too, but so far the desire to spend the time at my desk has triumphed.”

As a morning person myself I can relate to her approach, but I was disappointed she didn’t explore the roots of why this tactic is so beneficial to her.  She explains what she finds valuable about it, but stops short of further exploration.

If I were to explore this topic more thoroughly I would encourage people to determine what is missing from their lives.  For a busy mother of two young children an hour of peace and quiet at the start of the day may be priceless.  But for a single person who works from home more hours of quiet alone time may be the last thing they need.  Perhaps this person would be better served by a standing coffee or lunch date with a friend.  We all have different shortcomings in our lives, different holes that need filling.  Rubin has successfully identified her own hole – a quiet time of freedom and productivity – but I think she does her readers a disservice to assume that their holes are comparable.  The point here is to add back to your life something that is missing and find a way to incorporate it.

What is missing from my life?  Lately, sleep, but that’s not going to change any time soon.  As I stare down my upcoming maternity leave I anticipate that adult social interaction will be a shortcoming for the next few months, and that is a gap I’ll need to mindfully fill.  Perhaps for you it’s the opportunity to actually sit down to a meal.  Perhaps it’s time to read.  Perhaps it’s a break in the middle of your work day to clear your head and refresh yourself.  No two of us are exactly alike.  We have to make room for our differences and improve our happiness accordingly.

4 Responses to “Finding What’s Missing”

  1. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    Lately, I’ve been waking up at 4:30 due to hubby’s habit of snoring like a warthog. I consider sleeping on the couch, but then remind myself that if I get up and write/check emails, I’m never sorry. It always pays off. I might look like a tired wreck, but inside, I feel better.

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    For 2 decades I’ve awakened very early – to be up before everyone else to start the day. Um… necessary, but not addressing the “what is missing.”

    I like your point that we each have a hole to fill and some are not filled quite so easily.

    That said, sleep is always in short supply (grrrr), and certainly improves everything when it’s more present.

    Wishing you some good zzzzs soon!

  3. Gale Says:

    Kitch – I know just what you mean. There’s something about starting the day with a clean slate that feels so good, even if it comes at the expense of a bit of sleep.

  4. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    I’ve tried the getting up before everyone else trick, but I find that what I need most is sleep. So as much as I try to make the best of it when insomnia or a needy child wakes me up early, my days tend to go better when I get at least seven hours of sleep.

    I applaud you for taking a microscope to Gretchen Rubin’s recommendations. I tend to share many of her personality traits so find many of her suggestions to be helpful, but you’re right: it’s most important for each of us to embrace what works for herself and not blindly follow advice.