A friend of mine who came back from Egypt told me one of their guides said a truly life altering thing to her. He told her Americans live to eat, and that Egyptians eat to live. She said it really hit home with her. I agree. But want to take it a step further.
I have realized that Americans seem to think more is better. I mean, it’s not a new realization, but a true one, across all boards.
We seem to have gone so far from our Puritan roots of strict discipline and moderation to the other end of the spectrum that is, more more more.
We allow exercise, food, tv, and work to rule us. We enslave ourselves to the bills and the newest shiner thing. We alternate between binging on fast food, and eating so clean that we have created a new eating disorder.
We are obsessive and it seems to be getting worse the more out of control our lives become. We mistake this obsessing with control, when in fact, it makes us less in control.
We need to go back to the time where we sat down to have a cup of coffee. When we had our neighbors over and we didn’t use “I’m too busy” as our daily mantra.
I have had friends who’s house I could see from pretty much any room in my house, who I only saw at PTA functions or baseball games. We’d chit chat about the latest fad diet they were on, or the kids French classes, jumbo classes and voice class but when I’d extend a coffee date invite, their mantra would come flying out.
We are so busy avoiding feeling like we have no control, that we book ourselves to the brim. And honestly? Who are we doing this for? How does being overbooked and under rested give us control? The kids seem miserable, the parents are disconnected and everyone is exhausted.
I consider myself lucky. I was raised by two parents who, while very supportive of me, refused to allow my activities to dominate their lives.
Being a fairly normal, grounded person because of this (I assume), I have adopted this strategy. (Also, I have a personality defect that doesn’t allow me to be told what to do, PTA president, I am not……).
I help when I can, but I refuse to be my kids taxi. I don’t want my kids to be booked solid. I truly want them to be bored out of their minds. Because with boredom, comes creativity. And with time comes the ability to create.
When I find myself too busy to blog or color or walk outside, I also notice now stagnant my life is.
While the 50 hour a week paycheck is great, I don’t feel great and my life reflects that.
As Americans we need to stop working/doing so much and start working/doing smarter.
Make sure your kids know you value them, but that your relationship with your spouse is important so that when they are older, they avoid the heartbreak of divorce. Show them that it’s fine to have dessert and that it’s fine to exercise. But teach them moderation.
And please, for the love of god, do not teach them to count calories. Teach them what our grandparents knew. What a balanced meal looks like and what it feels like to be pleasantly full.
Teach them to listen to their bodies. That what’s right for them may seem weird to others. This will teach them tolerance for others. This will help them realize it’s ok to be weird, and to embrace that, instead of letting it marginalize them.
Let’s be the generation who looks back and picks the very best parts of the generations before us, rather than going further down the spectrum to be different from our ancestors.