I was walking downtown listening to a light novel, a quasi-romcom. It had started off well and then it took a nose-dive from there. About halfway to my destination I turned it off. I simply wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I had wanted a break from heavier subjects or professional readings. This was not the break I needed.
Growing up I often heard the adage “Losers Never Quit, and Quitters Never Lose.” In this case, I was losing time and joy if I didn’t quit. For so long I had always finished the books I started, I didn’t cancel plans unless there was an emergency. And I stayed to the end of plays, movies, television series and concerts rather than leave at the intermission if I wasn’t enjoying it. The pleasure of maturing, or at least being older is that I do not have to berate myself for quitting.
Stopping when something is not right for us is a gift, not a determination of failure. I win when I consider my needs. Of course, this is not a recommendation to simply quit whenever we want. Reading a book for pleasure means that I am seeking pleasure in reading it. When it’s not pleasurable, then quitting and finding something that I do find pleasurable meets my goal of a pleasurable read. When I’m meditating and I get uncomfortable, I don’t quit, I observe what’s happening and fold that into the meditation practice. Mediation is about making space for whatever is happening. So I am not betraying my goal by resisting quitting in the middle.
It’s not always easy to choose whether to carry on with an activity or whether to quit because it’s not in our best interest. When I was younger, I was stuck because I thought quitting spoke of a weak characteristic in me, and I wanted to avoid that. Accepting ourselves by not living dogmatically allows us to assess when to quit and when to keep going. I am more apt to find my way forward when I’m not forcing it. When I take away the “shoulds” it’s easier to make the right choice for any given time. Onto a new book. Making that choice is enjoyable.
- What “Shoulds” have burdened you? Any chance you can let them go? If that’s difficult, ask yourself, “does completing it serve me, or am I defending against some idea I have about that particular “should?”
- If you find you regret something you quit before you had a chance to achieve a goal, ask yourself if you can go back. It can be great to pick up dancing when older. Or, try learning the language through an easy tutorial or class that you started in high school.
- Find soaps for your face and for your body that have a texture and aroma that you find pleasing. It makes such a difference when we wash ourselves and it feels soothing. Your senses of smell and touch will feel well taken care of.