(“Why am I Always So Tired?” – How Discerning the Cost of Anything is Essential to Living Well, Part II)
This is Part II of a series looking at how discerning the non-monetary cost of things in our lives can help us figure out why we’re so tired – and how we can live better.
In Part I, I wrote about shifting our definition of “cost” from that of mere monetary valuation to a more accurate weighing up of the amount of life something requires of us. How much life do we have to trade in to get the thing?
Most of us aren’t used to thinking of cost in terms of life: we’ve been trained from an early age to consider the price tag as an accurate representation of how much something is worth, rather than asking ourselves what the life-cost is to us.
There are three main ways to start thinking about life-cost: time, energy, and emotional expenditure.
“Why am I always so tired?” If you’ve asked yourself this question, you’re not alone. Most people I know are perpetually exhausted! And the reason why isn’t what you might think: while sometimes we genuinely need to sleep more or explore a chronic health condition, very often what makes us tired is a lack of discernment about the cost of things in our lives.
If we want to truly live well, we have to pay attention to the expenses and income of our lives, not just our bank accounts. When we ask how much something costs, most of us are referring to a thing’s monetary value. How much money will we have to give up in order to own (or lease) the thing?
But most of us get money to buy things by giving up something of ourselves: our time, our expertise, our physical labour.
Giving up these elements of our life can make us really tired.
years ago, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop with a friend, discussing
the paths our lives were taking, and whether we should follow or change them. “I
just don’t know what God wants for me,” I lamented.
he offered, “God is asking you what you want.”
I want? In that moment, I couldn’t answer the question. Sometimes it’s hard to
know our own desires.
The last week or two, I’ve found myself completely overwhelmed by my to-do list. On the back of a trans-atlantic trip followed by a brutal round of jet lag, each day has seen me staring down my massive to-do list only to walk away in defeat.
Usually, my approach is flexible. Because my work is so varied, I have several different categories laid out on a blank sheet of paper where I note what needs to be done for each. Then I choose a few things to do every day that week. Sometimes I’ll batch work, trying to knock out a whole category in one day. Often, I’ll just tackle the most do-able tasks, or the ones that need to be done sooner. Most weeks, this tends to work just fine. This week, it did not.
Not only was there too much on the page to begin with (a fatal mistake for feeling accomplished), but my real difficulty was that there were too many competing things on the list. Usually one category takes precedence one day, another the next – there’s an ebb and flow that allow for flexibility. This week, there was no natural starting point. Too many things on the to-do list needed doing, all at the same time. I was overwhelmed and paralyzed with the simple decision of where to begin.
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