There are many things in life that we assume are mandatory, non-negotiable. We convince ourselves that we absolutely must do them. We convince ourselves that there’s no other option but to say yes. Maybe we make these assumptions because we see everyone around us participating in these activities or adopting these perspectives. But we forget that we can choose to include or exclude these actions and approaches in our lives.
For instance, you don’t have to have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. You don’t have to participate in social media. At all.
You don’t have to reduce your inbox to zero every night or week or month (especially if doing so drives you nuts and takes you away from your priorities).
You don’t have to earn X amount of money to be successful.
In fact, you don’t have to do anything to be successful—except for figure out what “success” personally means to you.
You don’t have to have a drink because your friends are drinking or because it’s not like you’re an “alcoholic,” or because drinking is so embedded in our culture (especially, sadly, in college, when we’re very vulnerable and often lost as it is).
You don’t have to count calories or cut out dessert or control your portions to be “healthy.”
You don’t have to have a gym membership or participate in any physical activities you can’t stand to be “in shape.”
Also, you don’t have to be “in shape.”
Similarly, you don’t have to lose weight. You don’t have to own a scale.
Your home doesn’t have to look like a museum or Pinterest board.
Again, this is all negotiable. Voluntary.
But there are some things that are non-negotiable. These are the approaches and activities that actually nourish you. They’re the daily or almost daily practices that, as Laura writes, sustain you and help you stay sane and centered—and even help you to do your life’s work. For instance, Laura’s non-negotiables are: “prayer, recovery (meetings), physical activity (I must sweat), alone time, creative time (usually writing) and sleep.”
Take the weekend and the next few weeks to figure out what is non-negotiable for you. What sustains you? What keeps you sane? What centers you? What feeds you? What do you need to feel good, energized, relaxed? What do you need to feel like yourself? What do you need to do what’s important to you (whatever this might be)?
Write these things down. Then make them a priority. Even if you’re really busy, and there’s just no time. Even if you have to take care of everyone.
Because, as Laura beautifully writes in the same piece, “The thing is this: the circumstances of your life don’t exempt you from being a human being with physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs. Ever. No human on earth is an exception.”
What have you been thinking of as non-negotiable but it really isn’t? What’s on your list of actual nourishing, non-negotiable practices and perspectives?