Purpose Provides Direction

I’ve noticed that when I, or my family, have nothing scheduled, nothing planned, nothing to do, that I seem out of sorts. It’s a conundrum because I also have the opposite problem: Too much on the schedule and not enough downtime. After too many days like that, I’m not so much out of sorts as just grumpy and mean. Probably the introvert in me, as well as some others in my family.

Part of my issue stems from lack of balance, which I see as a myth when we balance is seen as having the “perfect” amount of whatever. Life seems to be all or nothing. Go full throttle and then stop and breathe and rest and relax. With three children, and homeschooling, I tend to schedule a lot to keep us busy. Otherwise, my extroverted children complain that they haven’t seen their friends much. But then, my introverted child and I (I am just a touch more introverted than extroverted) get exhausted because even though we appreciate friend time and activities in our schedule, they also drain us.

Peaceful? Exhilarating better describes the experience of Niagara Falls. Sometimes a reminder of the majesty and power of the universe help put things in perspective.

But when we, as a family, have too much downtime, perhaps even an entire day unscheduled, everyone seems moody. Maybe shiftless would be a better word. I looked it up. Shiftless means lacking in resourcefulness, inefficient, lacking in ambition or incentive, or lazy. My grandma used to call it out of sorts. 

I’ve noticed this phenomenon seems to be happening more in recent years. I think electronic entertainment causes it. The more I use my electronic devices for entertainment or socializing, the more difficult it is to switch back to creative, productive life. This seems especially evident in my children, who seldom had these issues when they were younger and I strictly limited and controlled their media usage. As the oldest have gotten older, I’ve backed off controlling their usage so they will learn to limit themselves. Except they don’t limit themselves as much as I think they should and would like. Worse, instead of me leading them and providing the example, I fall into the trap myself. 

I’ve pondered this dilemma, and it occurred to me that I see the same types of issues in my friends and family members who go through major life changes, such as retirement or graduating their youngest child. All of sudden, they have time on their hands and don’t know quite what to do with it, though they don’t tend to turn so heavily toward an electronic solution as the youngest generation.

Time spent near the sea has been proven to improve sleep and mental health. The Texas Gulf Coast works just fine, but inland lakes and rivers also provide benefits.

I think the commonality between the two scenarios is purpose. When people of any age don’t have a purpose, they lack direction. That’s one of the reasons I can stave this off longer than my children: When I am bored, it is easy to find a closet that needs cleaned or a drawer that needs purged. However, I fall into this malady myself occasionally. Usually, that is when I dip into depression. It’s like I forget that my life has meaning, and that affects my emotions and starts a downward spiral.

Recently, I’ve started looking for causes and cures for the malady. I’ve looked at what has changed in my life, and in my family, in the last three. years. One of the biggest change was moving out of a 900-square-foot apartment into a 1,400-square-foot house. Not a huge amount of space, but enough that we are not compelled to leave for sanity’s sake. In addition, we no longer have a pool in our backyard. (Benefits of apartment life.)

My diagnosis: Not enough time in nature, not enough physical activity, not enough creative, hobby time and too much on electronics to fill all that time. Now to fix the problem. The cure is in the diagnosis. Books have been written about the issues. Nature is important for mental health. Physical activity is important for physical and mental health. Children should receive (participate in?) two hours of physical activity per day.

Now I just need to find the internal fortitude to make the changes that need changed. Those changes must start with me.

While hiding behind a camera can provide escape, I use it to show others the details that I see. Maybe by sharing, I allow others to understand me a bit better?

One thought on “Purpose Provides Direction

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.