Gretchen Rubin has been a mentor of sorts to me for a long time. I used to listen to her podcasts on my 45-minute both ways, every day commute to and from UT.
One of my favorite principles of hers is to come up with personal commandments that bring you back to who you are. This was revolutionary for me. In my last few journal entries, I talked about how I have a hard time nailing down my identity in a world full of aesthetics and personal branding. It’s so easy to become influenced by the accounts we follow (notice, I didn’t say people, because sometimes the people are hidden so well behind the brand aesthetic that we aren’t actually seeing them) that we can lose sight of our own sense of self.
So I came up with a few “commandments” that I can come back to when I need to remember who I am and who I was made to be.
- Eat good food. This doesn’t mean eat healthy food. This doesn’t mean eat all organic. It doesn’t mean eat a diet of Oreos and Coke. Just eat what tastes and feels good. Stop eating garbage takeout because it’s easy. Cook good meals at home, order good food when I need a break. But eat what makes me happy and what my body wants.
- Wear what feels like me. Stop shopping to meet an aesthetic. Stop buying clothes because I like how they look on someone else. If it feels good, if I feel like myself in it, that’s what I should be wearing.
- Take it outside. The solution to everything. All the feelings and fights and boring meals and cabin fever can be solved just by taking things outside.
- Choose local. As often as possible. Choose local foods, shop local stores, support small businesses, buy American made when possible. Help my community thrive by investing in it.
- Don’t overthink it. If it’s a decision that won’t matter in a week, a month, a year, ten years, stop giving it so much value.
- Pick your battles. Don’t fight over things that don’t matter. Don’t start swearing when someone cuts me off in traffic. Don’t force Hazel to wear a ponytail if she doesn’t want to. Let her walk. Let her eat the Fruit Loops she found in her toy box from Lord only knows when.
- Stop googling. In fact, just put the screens away. If I’m feeling stressed, overwhelmed, insufficient, nothing on the internet is going to make me feel better.
- Sleep on it, take a bath, or walk it off. This is what WILL make me feel better. Hit the hay, soak away my troubles or take them to the pavement. If I don’t feel better after these three things, try ice cream. Or rum.
- Waste time well. Stop considering happy things to be a waste of time. Don’t waste time researching, overthinking, throwing pity parties, etc. Instead, waste time reading good stories, watching HGTV, painting my nails, doing a puzzle, etc.
- There is value in nostalgia. Don’t overlook the things that made me who I am. Root beer floats and sprinklers and farms and fireworks and family gatherings and old children’s books and rainy days and football and sunsets and the smell of camping and overalls and corn dogs all have a place in my life. These things will always bring me back to who I am.
- Write it down. Every moment I want to remember. Every doctor’s appointment I’m bound to forget. Every Bible verse or inspiring quote that speaks volumes to my heart.
- Make something. If I’m feeling uninspired or burnt out, make something good. Something beautiful. Something delicious.
- Remember balance. I can use all natural goat’s milk soap and drink a Coca-Cola in the morning. I can choose Tylenol and essential oils. I can have farm fresh eggs and grass fed butter alongside Sara Lee white bread. It’s okay to have both.
- Life. Liberty. Pursuit of Happiness. The America feeling is important to me. I value freedom and equality and justice and kindness. When considering political choices, always bring it back to Life. Liberty. Pursuit of Happiness.
- He is always good. God is faithful. He will not leave me, nor forsake me. He has a purpose for every hard and mundane day. When I’m doubting who I am, I can ALWAYS trace it back to Him.