If you are stuck copy/pasting 1000 lines of code, you can hate your life because you’re stuck in an office doing menial work, or you can make yourself a mojito, chill out, and pretend you’re in some data center on an island and your boss will love you for making the best spreadsheet ever. 
Imagination goes a long way, and it can go a long way with your I-have-to-do-these-things-I-hate-list.

6 years ago I paused a conversation to do some pushups. I told my buddy that I have to do 20 pushups every day to look good. She said, “You don’t have to do pushups. You don’t have to do anything. You want to.”

She was right. I was treating my daily pushups as some sort of burden, but I wanted to do them and so I should have been enjoying it. There are some things that we have to do because if we don’t do them, we’ll quickly drown in our own lazy incompetence.

But these things don’t take up most of our time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to eat food, order and take medicine, pay bills, and make sure your family is alive. But not for most people, most of the time.

Everything else you have to do? That’s optional. You can stay in bed all day. You can skip your pushups.

It’s true that the line between “have to” and “want to” blurs because many of your “optional” tasks involve making sure tomorrow isn’t awful– doing extra work, learning about diseases, or doing pushups to stave off obesity for another year.

All these are important, but they’re not urgent. You don’t have to stress out about them. Urgent things are stressful because they are important and you have limited time.

If something is only important, then you can relax. It might be unpleasant and tedious, but you can still chill while you do it, play some music. A lot of people treat everything that’s important as urgent and stress out about it for no reason.

When you think of the things you have to do as the things you want to do, there is less pressure to do them, you can relax more, and suddenly, you’ll realize that you have a lot more time and energy because the time you used to stress you’re now relaxing.

And you’ll have time to make those mojitos.

Written by Natalia Dashan

I studied psychology and computer science at Yale. Graduated in 2016 B.S. Psychology. Wingwoman by assertion.

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