Self-Directed Life Newsletter: 20 Pounds of Fun in a 10-Pound Bag
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Hey guys,

How was your week?

This made me laugh:
I’m not an expert on meditation but I’m guessing you won’t have much time to do it if you’re reading 43 blogs.

This neatly encapsulates the issue of “too much of a good thing.” More is not always better. At some point, “more” becomes the problem.

This is true for meditation blogs, true for “special holiday experiences,” and true for kids’ projects. Try to cram in too much and you can’t even enjoy the bit you were really looking forward to.

Instead of accepting that we can’t do everything, we can fall into the trap of trying to improve on our ability to do more.

Productivity tips… organizational tools… new calendar app… new to-do list app…

Instead of accepting that we can’t cram 20 pounds of fun into a 10-pound bag, we try to magic the bag a little bigger. “30 tips to make your bag more flexible — you won’t believe number 7!”

Often, with projects, parents have a constant gnawing anxiety that they should be doing more — that their kids should be doing more.

The simple cure for this is to journal (yeah, I hear you groaning) — because journaling means really looking and listening, writing down what’s actually happening, then taking time to read what you wrote. These steps take your focus off what you worry you should be accomplishing and remind you of what you ARE accomplishing.

Every single one of those steps is hard for people to do. Just getting started is often so daunting they never get going.

But focusing attention on what you’re doing vs. what you aren’t can quiet your anxiety. Try it!

We only have so many hours in the day, in the week, in the year. You aren’t helping yourself by making big lists of things you wish would get done — you are helping yourself when you do a simple check: Are we using our time to do worthwhile things?

If you are, you’re good — just keep doing more of that. Let go of the idea that more would be better or different would be better. Are you meeting your goals? Check and see. You don’t have to *over*-meet them.

When we overload our routine or project with too many expectations, we wreck it all. We wreck the work our children were doing by trying to squeeze in more — just like we can wreck our holiday season (and/or ourselves) by trying to do too much.

There’s a limit to how much we can do. When we think we have to read the top 43 meditation blogs before we sit down for 10 minutes and relax, we’re sunk.

Reality is fine. Reality is enough. We have enough time to have fun. We have enough time to read and think and make and have good conversations and do meaningful work. We have enough time to relax and rest.

That’s all we need.

We don’t need to figure out how to force our hours to hold more — we need to figure out how to live our hours and experience what they do hold, content to live this life instead of a fantasy life that uses Tardis magic to do ALL the things.

Holiday season or a chlid’s meaningful work — for both, we need to stop, take a deep breath, and really look at what’s there and see that it is good, and it is enough.

Happy people do not experience one success after another and unhappy people, one failure after another.

Instead, surveys show that happy and unhappy people tend to have had very similar life experiences.

The difference is that the average unhappy person spends more than twice as much time thinking about unpleasant events in their lives, while happy people tend to seek and rely upon information that brightens their personal outlook. — Sonya Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness and The Myths of Happiness

Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep. Write down three things that went well today and why they went well…

Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier.

The odds are that you will be less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now. — Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking. — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

When you prioritize, Warren Buffet says everything but your top priorities should be treated not as “I’ll eventually get these done as well” but instead “Avoid at all costs.” Why? As Oliver Burkeman says, “They’re the dangerous ones: the somewhat attractive goals most likely to lure you from your truly important priorities.”

“That promise of more productivity is just a seductive way to avoid facing up to trade-offs.” — Stop trying to do it all

Once again, this applies to holidays and children’s meaningful work — if you can’t say no to all the great things you *could* do, you won’t have enough time to do things that are *most* important to you.

On of my favorite sayings: If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.


“[T]he more time kids in Grade 1 spent sitting and the less time they spent being physically active, the fewer gains they made in reading in the two following years.

In first grade, a lot of sedentary time and no running around also had a negative impact on their ability to do math.” — Children who sit still have a harder time learning to read


“It isn’t the idea of my kids holding a hammer or saw that scares me but the idea of trying to make community alone.” — What it would take to set American kids free

Resources for building community on the PBH site:

     The Introvert’s Guide [but it’s really for everyone] to Building Community

     How to Start a Project Group


This article says you can’t teach critical thinking as a stand-alone skill — it has to be acquired in the context of meaningful work.


The most envious and least compassionate individuals are the least happy.


This “grumpy” (according to his daughter) grandpa started an Instagram to share drawings with his grandchildren. <3


“If you have to choose, be good at life.” — Why some people are great at school, but only so-so at life

Thank you as always for your continued support!

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Have a great week!
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