“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” – Aristotle
Surprise! The baby is here! And like all births, there is so much excitement and joy. It’s overwhelming, to say the least. One element of this new transition which scares me the most is the new responsibilities of being a parent. Perhaps I am selfish, egotistical or just a typical human. But I like my routine. And now that’s all destroyed by the demands of a little person no greater than 7 pounds.
Sure, I have read lots of books that set accurate expectations on being a parent. But execution is different than something written on paper. The impacts of being a new parent hit you differently in ways unforeseen, primarily because you’re sleep deprived. And let’s not forget, if you’re fortunate enough to have a partner, you are both making conflicting decisions in this zombie impatient state.
So now you are probably wondering, why I am writing this post since I am not really saying anything other parents haven’t said before? Here’s why…
Unforeseen benefits of a lifestyle fast
As of writing this post, most Americans live in a hyper connected culture where email/social media and online videos dominate our lives. The problem with this is, we are distracted since we are always reacting to the content being produced. How many people check Facebook or email first thing in the morning?
You see, we have this little computer in our hand constantly beeping and vibrating barking demands at us. Depending on what apps you have installed, said demands could be of a drama hyped nature or just pure garbage feeding you information that only serves as a distraction. All these distractions constantly bombarding us can be bad because it leaves us very little time to think. Instead, depending on the notifications of our electronic widget, we react to the whims of someone or something discarding our own agenda. And let me ask you this, if a mobile app is powerful enough to make you check it first thing in the morning and force a reaction based on the information, who’s really in control?
I remember when I was a kid out in the country with no cable tv or internet. There were days where I would look at the stars for hours or nights where I would listen to the critters in the woods while I fell asleep. As a kid, I didn’t particularly relish all this free time. But in hindsight, I see that it gave me time to think about my problems and prioritize what mattered most to me.
This is probably why so many people in their early twenties or in between jobs go backpacking throughout Europe. That time alone can add clarity since you are stripped from all modern luxuries and left in your own mind for a while.
The earlier Aristotle quote is astute because we are often chasing happiness. And all the buzzing and beeping things we buy tend to sell us the perfect life through commercials. But does chasing happiness through shopping ie consumerism really make us happy?
I’d argue, 24/7 internet browsing, news and email become counterproductive at some point. Now don’t get me wrong, clearly, these tools help us. But just like the excessive use of anything, there are negative consequences.
This is where the lifestyle fast comes into the story. It’s now been 3 days since my little bundle of joy came into the world. And I have just been left with my notes and one printed book in between all constant attention the newborn needs in the little hospital room where we stay. Since I am on paternity leave, I am not thinking about work. I don’t really have time for social media or email since I’m either rocking the baby or trying to nap while my wife feeds. I haven’t even used the cable tv in my room at the hospital. And it’s the funniest thing, when I am rocking/burping the baby to sleep both arms are occupied. So I am just left with my thoughts looking at my baby girl and the wall.
The only thing I can do with this time is to focus on not falling asleep with this child in my arms. So, in order to keep myself awake, I focus on solving problems or things I need to get done. For instance,
I need to update my will.
I need to finish that book I started months ago.
What food can I buy next week to ensure my wife and baby get the nutrition they need.
This list goes on…
The point, temporarily abandoning the modern luxuries I have, gave me time to prioritize what matters most. And now, I can start next week full-throttle motivated by execution of my to-do list with clarity and zeal.
Perhaps this lifestyle fast will be a new ritual of mind. I’ll keep you posted along the way.
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