Help me give myself the gift of freedom
November 18, 2022 7:16 AM   Subscribe

Help me give myself the gift of freedom. What is something you used to do, that you thought was very important, that you stopped doing, and didn’t notice a difference? Or a smaller difference than you expected?

Similarly, have you done the same with loved ones in your life, where you used to have expectations, requirements, or standards that you let go of, to mutual benefit?

As I reach my late 30s, I've started to feel the weight of accumulated rules weighing down my mind and my life.

Can you please share stories of things that you used to think were very important, but that you stopped doing? What is the "straw that broke the camels back" that you have successfully unburdened yourself from?

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posted by rebent to Society & Culture (79 answers total) 101 users marked this as a favorite
If you send holiday cards AND it is not something you enjoy doing*, drop it. No one actually cares or will think less of you if they don't get one.

*I realize this is something many people enjoy doing, hence this very important clause.
posted by superfluousm at 7:18 AM on November 18, 2022 [31 favorites]

In my second marriage, I dropped a lot of rules about what a marriage "should" look like, in terms of sleeping arrangements, time spent together, shared finances, etc. It has been a relief and a boon for the relationship.
posted by missrachael at 7:28 AM on November 18, 2022 [18 favorites]

It is just my wife and I. Our families live 16 and 8 hours away respectively. We have stopped traveling for Thanksgiving and just make a spread for ourselves. We get to eat what we want, when we want, and don't have to stress over driving and accommodations for ourselves and our pets. It has turned Thanksgiving into one of our favorite holidays.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:29 AM on November 18, 2022 [38 favorites]

Best answer: I stopped cooking! When I was in a relationship I cooked a ton--originally, my partner did it, but then the balance slowly shifted (he worked a very physical job and got home pretty late, very sore, and pretty hungry; eventually it just made more sense). I disliked it and felt like I often wasn't doing very well at it but, a hot meal must be made, right?

Well, a couple weeks after we broke up and I moved out there was a lil' bitty global pandemic and grocery shopping wasn't a thing anymore. I started panicking about meal planning and how I would relearn how to cook and then remembered...I didn't have to! I could just not cook. So I don't! Or anyway, I only cook very rarely, and only when I really want to, like for Thanksgiving.

It's amazing! I have SO MUCH FREE TIME. My kitchen stays so clean! The friggin' best.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 7:34 AM on November 18, 2022 [30 favorites]

I used to iron everything, then I switched to just my smart clothes and a brief waft of the iron over anything very rumpled, using a cooler setting so I can mainly fold and leave the iron on for when I need it. Ironing went from a 2h job to 45 mins (I save up my ironing for 3-4 weeks to save chores generally).
posted by london explorer girl at 7:40 AM on November 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

*If you don't enjoy decorating for the holidays* ...just don't do it. Big game changer and huge physical/mental/ emotional timesaver for me for many reasons when I gave myself permission to not do this.
(*I know lots of people love it and I appreciate enjoying their efforts. I just don't want to do it myself*)
posted by bookmammal at 7:43 AM on November 18, 2022 [14 favorites]

Twitter. Social media in general, except for meta filter and some dischords, in fact. I used to do Twitter, cross posted to Instagram, with some Tumblr and a Facebook presence every day, slavishly, because it seemed like the best way to get my portfolio out to the public (I’m a freelance illustrator). My work was either getting ripped off all the time or I was constantly doing a tapdance to game the algorithms so people would see the actual work I wanted them to see, and it was like having a job on top of my job. Finally I went viral for something and got 10 million views and: no work came out of it. Zero, zilch, none. The viral tweets were stolen by late-night talk show hosts with my name blocked out, and I had a big realization that all I was doing was providing free content for billionaires who owned the social media companies. I quit everything and I have so much time to actually DO MY PAINTINGS now.
posted by terridrawsstuff at 8:02 AM on November 18, 2022 [65 favorites]

Best answer: Can you please share stories of things that you used to think were very important, but that you stopped doing?

I don't know if I ever thought it important, but I did used to "collect things". Books, records, blue rays.

None of it is needed. Stop buying shit. When you do have to buy something, buy something that will last and not need to be replaced.
posted by dobbs at 8:03 AM on November 18, 2022 [36 favorites]

Stop buying shit.

Also get rid of shit that you have. Everything you own gives you something you have to do - clean it, find a place for it, take it with you if you move. I did a one-year downsizing project where I got rid of three things a day, so the total was over a thousand things gone from my life. I very rarely miss any of it. I doubt I could name 50 of those things.
posted by FencingGal at 8:10 AM on November 18, 2022 [60 favorites]

  • Social media.
  • Shaving my legs.
  • Shopping on Amazon.
  • Celebrating holidays (at least in the traditional sense)
  • Working in an office
  • Drinking coffee (now I drink tea, which is cheap and easy to make and doesn't cause me to energy crash mid-afternoon)

posted by mezzanayne at 8:15 AM on November 18, 2022 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Give your partner room to be wrong on things that don't matter. Don't fight for your way on mundane things you don't even care about. Your partner is probably right more often than you expect anyway.

On a related note, my dad once told me, "Do you realize how much happier your marriage would be if, when asked to do something small and reasonable, you just did it, right away?"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:20 AM on November 18, 2022 [72 favorites]

Wearing makeup. I never learned to do it well, never could make it look the way I wanted, felt like a clown if it was too visible and ended up putting so little on that you couldn't tell I was wearing any makeup in the first place. Then the pandemic happened and I just stopped. Good riddance and I reclaimed all that drawer space and early-morning time. I still look the same anyway.
posted by Liesl at 8:33 AM on November 18, 2022 [22 favorites]

Best answer: Surprising people, and being surprised. With gifts mostly, but for all kinds of other things too.

Many people (me included) actually don't like being surprised, and prefer the pleasure of. ANTI-CI-PATION! Being able to say what gifts they want, what they want to do on special occasions, and so on.

Much less stressful.
posted by Zumbador at 8:41 AM on November 18, 2022 [13 favorites]

I haven't sorted laundry in 20 years beyond a mesh bag for things that don't go in the dryer. I think I've had one thing bleed, and re-washing the load fixed it.

And yeah, having less stuff. Finding ways to have to make fewer choices that you don't actually care about. Having defaults. Understanding the cost of getting things for "free."
posted by momus_window at 8:41 AM on November 18, 2022 [15 favorites]

I had this rule in my mind, that came from media and maybe mainstream culture, that my long-term partner and I had to be having sex at least weekly, ideally twice weekly, or else there was something wrong that needed to be fixed. Then I read Ace by Amgela Chen and realized I am asexual and never really experience desire to have sex with another person, and that doesn't have to be something to be fixed or something wrong with me, it's just how it is. So now my partner and I can just have the sex life we have, and it's not a problem, and it feels way more gentle and relaxed rather than me thinking about how I need to fix myself to be normal.
posted by lizard music at 8:46 AM on November 18, 2022 [19 favorites]

This is small and very petty, but: satisfaction surveys.

I just don't do them. For anyone or any reason. Not even in response to poor service -- getting mad doesn't really help.
posted by humbug at 8:50 AM on November 18, 2022 [15 favorites]

Best answer: The level of cleanliness I expect from my home. I grew up with a very controlling parent who insisted on keeping the house show home levels of pristine and it did a number on my perception of what is a normal amount of effort to put into cleaning and tidying, and a normal amount of clean & tidy that a home should be. Partner and I are both differently neurodivergent, and doing the best we can at the stuff that most improves our quality of life while letting a lot of other stuff that's mostly performance for other people's benefit slide is working very well for us. My gross/clutter threshold is a lot lower than partner's, and making sure we don't tip too far over that line is a good use of effort, but clearing the line by several miles isn't.

Same with yardwork; any gardening I do is to grow stuff I'm interested in. I don't care if the garden looks messy around the bits I care about, and I don't need my garden to look pristine.

I also refuse to own any clothing that needs to be ironed, and don't fold my laundry, just stuff it in the drawer when it comes out of the dryer. I work from home 95% of the time anyway so who cares if my sweater is kind of crumpled. My mother irons her sheets. I'd rather enjoy my life.

I also try not to let rarity/collectability of objects or must-have-ness of experiences rule my life. If it's right for me at the right time I'll buy it or own it or do it. If it isn't, I'll get rid of it or skip it or never buy it in the first place. I won't let advertisers or other people peer pressure me into believing I absolutely must have or do it.

Like bookmammal, we don't decorate for the holidays at all, and never have done since we moved in together almost a decade ago (no kids & neither of us care). I don't send cards to anyone except my mother & sister, and I only intermittently buy gifts for friends, and it's largely fine.

I don't wear jewelery, makeup or groom my lower body hair, these days primarily for gender expression reasons, but I also didn't do a lot of that when I was still pretending to be a woman. I feel very strongly that I'm not a decorative object and that I have shit to do that's a lot more important to me than looking nice by other people's standards. I aim for as clean and neat as a minimal amount of grooming gets me, and not much more than that. Clothes need to meet my sensory & comfort needs first, and if they don't look visually appealing, that's an eye of the beholder problem, not a me problem.

The fact that I'm both trans and neurodivergent do allow me to get away with not meeting expectations from others, particularly gendered expectations about labour, and the neurodivergence also helps me not care at all what other people think and makes me impervious to any kind of peer pressure about how I 'should' be living - which is to say that some of this might have been way easier for me to shrug off than it could be for other people.
posted by terretu at 8:51 AM on November 18, 2022 [13 favorites]

I stopped trying to be the best at things. Scrabble tournaments, best at x game, guitar, etc. I’ve tried to shift my motivation for personal improvement from “gain recognition that I am the best” to “enjoy the thing and do your best, but don’t worry about winning so much .” Family game night is certainly more fun that way. Getting older helps; I can watch a 12 year old on social media do pretty much anything I know how to do, better than I ever have or will do it. Let it go!

For similar reasons, I totally stopped following professional or college sports. I still watch a game here and there, but I don’t care that much who wins most of the time. Following sports teams that inevitably disappointed was surprisingly stressful.
posted by caviar2d2 at 9:02 AM on November 18, 2022 [7 favorites]

Getting my eyebrows done. Caring about how my eyebrows look. This is probably a casualty of the pandemic.
posted by bleep at 9:07 AM on November 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Makeup! And high maintenance hair! I was never great at makeup but I never used to leave the house without foundation, concealer, blush, mascara, eyeshadow. Plus fussing with hair .When I turned 50 I stopped caring so much about what other people thought about how I looked & scaled back. Then covid happened, quit wearing any of it & I've never gone back. Also got a low to no maintenance hair cut that I love. All this saves me 30 minutes a day in "getting ready" time, plus I never have to take time during the day for touchups. Very freeing!
And honestly, my skin has never looked better and I just don't care about wrinkles or what others think about them.
posted by bookmammal at 9:10 AM on November 18, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Stopped highlighting my hair during pandemic confinement and discovered funnily enough that I have that kind of streaky gray/blonde hair (at least right now) that looks pretty good. Wish I had the time and money back that I spent getting highlights.

Stopped traveling to the relatives for Christmas 100 miles away years ago when I got the flu and couldn'tbe there on Christmas Eve and Chrismas Day. Now we go around Christmas time.

Stopped thinking I had to wash and dry every dish in the morning and between meals. Neighbor disabused me of that years ago!
posted by Elsie at 9:14 AM on November 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I completely recommend quiet quitting or working-to-rule, "acting your wage." However you want to phrase performing your job competently and no more.

In my case, I'm done answering client emails in the evening. There is a time built in for revisions and it's not two hours after the FINAL version has been sent. I used to be extremely anxious about missing emails, but there's been no rewards or repercussions either way.
posted by rawralphadawg at 9:15 AM on November 18, 2022 [26 favorites]

+1 for makeup! I have pretty uneven skin tone on my face that I used to conceal with full-coverage foundation every day. Between some combination of getting older, masking during the pandemic, and doing a lot more physically-intensive (sweaty) activities in public spaces, I've completely stopped giving a shit and just wash my face, put on a bit of SPF moisturizer and go. Ironically my skin has never looked and felt better.
posted by btfreek at 9:15 AM on November 18, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I stopped coloring my hair last year and realized that my natural, gray color looks objectively way better (to me) and I am no longer a slave to the monthly upkeep.

I stopped micromanaging my finances and just started spending without worry on the things I would normally be buying anyhow that I had already budgeted for. (I realize that that is not possible for everyone).

Having a dysfunctional family, I cut back on how many days I would visit them to two days, and suddenly the visits are fine and actually sometimes good because everyone is way less stressed because the end is always right around the corner. And I no longer am caring what they think about the short visits like I would have.

When difficult or controversial conversations come up (like let's say with said family), I have decided to stop engaging in any way other than a non-committal 'huh' or mostly just silence. When I get triggered my inner refrain is "be like a log". I float through stuff now cause it is not my responsibility to engage, change anyone or defend my positions. When I did try to engage, it never helped anyhow.
posted by nanook at 9:15 AM on November 18, 2022 [12 favorites]

Yeah, sort of echoing missrachael, I would say cohabitating. None of the things that I want from a relationship require commingling finances or living under the same roof. Letting go of the traditional relationship model has eliminated 98% of all relationship friction for me.

And almost all travel. It is so exhausting and expensive. Ditto owning things. I don't think I've ever owned a fraction of what the typical American owns, but I have nevertheless gotten rid of about half of it in the last few years, and made great strides in reducing further purchases. The psychological burden of owning all that stuff was horrible. Every time I pull into the garage I now I feel so light and pleased with myself. My house is regularly (not every day, but regularly) so clean and organized that every single part of it is tidy and there are no drawers or closets full of scary unknowns. The feeling is amazing.
posted by HotToddy at 9:17 AM on November 18, 2022 [12 favorites]

I think most of these have been mentioned but here goes:

Collecting stuff: A big yes to this. DVDs, CDs, books, etc. The pandemic was eye-opening. I'd collected books for me and my kids for years just in case and...we did completely other things than sit and read to each other. And my kids get more excited taking things out of the library (physical or electronic) than me pulling them off shelves.

Non-matching clothing. I wear jeans, black, grey, burgundy, and teal, with a few summer pieces in orange and beige. Everything else that I own that is on a different colour scheme has been gifted or handed down to me (other than a few dresses that are complete outfits on their own.) I only have black shoes, purses, etc.

Other stuff: Two sets of sheets per bed only (one to wash, one to be in the closet).

Xmas fuss: No cards, and most of our families are on no-gifts (we do a secret Santa). Ditto adult birthdays; we keep them pretty low-key.

Friends: I set up regular nights (like 1x mo per friend/group) to hang out that we cancel, rather than figuring things out on the fly.

Routines: We have the following routines that keep my cognitive load lower -

- Dinners - we have soup + hearty salad or toasties on Monday, bowls (rice or hummus or potato or kale as a base) on Tuesday, chili/hearty soup and bread on Wednesday, leftovers or quiche Thursday,* and homemade pizza on Saturday. That leaves Friday and Sunday nights to figure out. Which soup/dishes go in the slow cooker is dictated by my food box/CSA delivery.

- Breakfasts are either eggs + fruit + toast or oatmeal + fruit + toast, with the odd cold cereal morning.

* this schedule is based partly on kid activities where we have very limited cooking time
posted by warriorqueen at 9:23 AM on November 18, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Without wishing to put words in anyone's mouth, I think the subtext of a lot of these responses can be summed up as: It's perfectly all right to ignore various things that "the world" (or "everyone else") thinks are important. It's OK not to engage in recreational shopping. It's OK not to shave your legs and to ignore mainstream beauty standards (or gender-specific expectations in that area). It's OK not to cook; you're allowed to ignore all that inane financial advice about how you're "wasting money" by eating takeout all the time. It's absolutely OK to ignore professional sports and the hijinks of celebrities. It's OK to not have sex very often in your committed long-term relationship. Hey! What you are doing IS OK!

Finally, an example from my own life: Mr. Scratch and I, married 31 years, several decades ago agreed it wasn't necessary to robotically reply, "Love you too!" when the other person says I love you. I think if you say it too often, it loses meaning. So one of us can say, "I love you, sweetie," and the other can reply, "Thanks for cleaning the litter box!" IT'S ALL OK.
posted by scratch at 9:35 AM on November 18, 2022 [18 favorites]

Also it's perfectly all right to completely ignore the holidays if it makes you happier (children may complicate or prevent this, and that's OK too), and life's too short to waste folding underwear.
posted by scratch at 9:37 AM on November 18, 2022 [6 favorites]

Contacts, makeup, wearing clothes that aren't comfortable, celebrating most holidays, working extra hours for no good reason, saying yes to social invitations i don't want to go to (in pre-pandemic times), folding clothes, fixing a relationship with a particular family member, socializing with that one friend whose husband is creepy as shit, haircuts i can't do myself with clippers.
posted by Stacey at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Whew, just reading this thread feels liberating.
posted by praemunire at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2022 [23 favorites]

For recycling: I don't even look at probably 80% of my mail, much less bring it indoors anymore. I fetch it from the curbside mailbox, pluck out the 2 or 3 pieces of actual bills or occasional human mail, and drop the rest directly into the recycling bin, which I now also keep outdoors by the garage. Why should I even open a catalogue or think about whether to apply for that credit card? This has eliminated the massive sorting paper task on recycling pick up days.
posted by ojocaliente at 9:51 AM on November 18, 2022 [7 favorites]

Ironing is the thing that immediately comes to mind. I used to iron my pants, even jeans, every day. Now, if they're wrinkly, I throw them in the dryer for a couple minutes. That's good enough. If they're still wrinkly, I don't care.

This is probably a privileged answer, since I'm a man, but clothing in general. I used to wear pocket squares, read GQ and the Sartorialist, etc. At some point it clicked and I realized that GQ and stuff like that were just hyping trends to puff up their advertisers. A Continuous Lean was literally just a PR guy blogging about his clients (although his clients made nice stuff!). I still want to look nice, even if I just wear a t-shirt, but I care a lot less about what other people think looks nice, especially people who get paid to think about what looks nice. You could say I've developed my own sense of style, which is what the GQ writers always talked about while at the same time hyping fur-lined cutoff jorts from Zegna or some shit.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:58 AM on November 18, 2022 [11 favorites]

Lots of stuff around holidays:
-I used to send holiday cards every winter but stopped when my kids were little. I might start again, and I love receiving them from folks, but there are other ways to connect, and I've mostly let the guilt go.

-We celebrate secular Christmas but I don't have a Christmas tree. I feel bad that trees are grown and chopped for this one holiday (I know there are different takes on this, but it feels incredibly wasteful to me). I sometimes decorate a small tree that I grow outside in a pot most of the year. I only use the ornaments and decorations I like or might be meaningful to my kids.

-I don't carve a pumpkin every year. I like carving pumpkins! But my kids are older and aren't into it anymore. So a few years ago, I bought a ceramic jack-o-lantern on sale and put that outside at Halloween to signal to trick-or-treaters that we've got some candy. Sometimes I buy another pumpkin or two.

-I don't necessarily make traditional foods for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I've become increasingly uncomfortable celebrating Thanksgiving and, while I like eating all that food, cooking a huge meal is a lot of pressure for me. So when I do cook, it's more of a local food bounty harvest menu. Last year on Christmas I asked my kids what they wanted to eat, and we got a huge take out platter from the local Japanese restaurant. It was delicious and required no work except ordering and picking up the food.

-I don't celebrate any other holiday except how I want to. Sometimes we want to dye Easter eggs but mostly we ignore holidays that we don't care about. That also means I don't feel obligated to travel to family or celebrate the holiday on the specific day.

Appearance and clothing stuff:
-I keep my fingernails tidy enough but don't mess with my cuticles because it hurts.

-I don't coordinate shoes and belt and purse or whatever, or worry about mixing metals, at least not in everyday life and work.

-I avoid buying clothing that needs to be ironed or dry cleaned. I have an iron and a steamer but generally have a lot of wash and wear (especially if things are hung up to dry neatly). I just don't end up wearing the other stuff.

-I've let go of the idea that my kids are a reflection of me rather than being their own people.

-I'm working hard to get past the idea that monogamy is the only acceptable relationship structure and something I should strive for, and that my self-worth is connected to being in an intimate partnership, and that an intimate relationship with one other person should be the primary relationship in my life, and that the goal is to cohabitate with that person.

And ageism. I wear sunscreen and try to take care of my health, but I'm working hard to get past the idea that aging is bad, that youthfulness is better. So I'm not trying to hide my age and I'm trying to push myself to make it as a neutral of a thing as possible about anyone in my life.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:03 AM on November 18, 2022 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I don't peel potatoes anymore. No matter how I intend to prepare them. It tastes just fine and it's a lot less work.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:05 AM on November 18, 2022 [23 favorites]

It's a work in progress (and took years of therapy), but I've stopped having expectations of my parents. It's been a huge burden off of my shoulders to not be repeatedly disappointed.

I'm wearing hard bras less and less these days, and going with soft cotton bralettes. It's great.
posted by Sparky Buttons at 10:10 AM on November 18, 2022 [9 favorites]

(Also, it cracks me up that the gift guide info is at the bottom of this question)
posted by Sparky Buttons at 10:11 AM on November 18, 2022 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I don't expect, seek, or require validation from anyone or anything. I have good opinions, and I think I'm good enough with just myself to back me up.

Then if someone else does like me or the things I do, it's just icing on the cake.

I just had to decide one day that that's how I was going to feel about that. Confidence is an active choice.
posted by phunniemee at 10:12 AM on November 18, 2022 [9 favorites]

I made a personal policy to never, ever give a shit about other people's wedding choices. IT RULES. Invited? Not invited? Plus ones? Whatever! If you "can't make it" to a baby shower, it's actually completely fine! Just caring so so so much less about these things has been liberating.
posted by Charity Garfein at 10:14 AM on November 18, 2022 [11 favorites]

We gave ourselves permission to stop trying to coordinate family visits for Christmas.

These days, we either celebrate at home ourselves (me, my partner, our kid) or we cut the gifting to almost zero and just travel instead. We enjoy each other's company and seeing the occasional tourist spot during the long break much, much more than negotiating with my mom or siblings for half the year at a low success rate, just to bring someone up every few years for a little company who mumbles about how we do things.

Fuck 'em. Let 'em sit at home in West Kentucky and watch football on Christmas. We'll go to the Caribbean. Or Europe.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:16 AM on November 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

I stopped listening to NPR, trying to closely follow the news. I read the Washington Post headlines still, but my bar for “staying informed” is so much lower. Most things in the news I can do nothing about and it doesn’t help my life to get upset about them. I try to focus on the things I CAN do something about.
posted by rikschell at 10:21 AM on November 18, 2022 [24 favorites]

In my first job, I used to cycle into work until I decided that I was whizzing through town just to get to the destination. So I pretentiously left the bike at home and walked (hello trees, hello sky) to work. Then I noticed that I was checking my watch at almost every intersection; so I left my watch at home - that's nearly 40 years ago. Kept the bike, though, because at my next job the commute was 15km.
Stopped owning a TV at about the same time I stopped wearing a watch.
Deodorant? Soap!
posted by BobTheScientist at 10:25 AM on November 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

I used to believe I was the main character in the story and that everyone was paying attention to what I did. Giving up that conceit, accepting that no one out of my immediate social circle cares at all about what I do or say, has been tremendously freeing.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:17 AM on November 18, 2022 [33 favorites]

I stopped trying to finish books/TV shows I wasn't really enjoying. I used to feel pressure to power through things just because someone recommended them to me or because I thought my reasons for not liking something weren't "good enough". They were. It actually helped me expand my reading/entertainment choices because I didn't feel like I was committed in advance to everything I picked up. If I'm bored then back to the library, let's try again..
posted by eeek at 11:26 AM on November 18, 2022 [22 favorites]

I stopped dieting and it is the single best thing I have ever done for my mental and physical health.

I read the book Intuitive Eating to help me with this. It’s been about 5 years now since I’ve been on a diet and I am in better physical shape, and I eat a more varied and nutritious diet than I ever have.

Once I took the pressure off myself to diet and exercise solely in pursuit of making my body smaller (which it wasn’t doing because I could never stick with restrictive or extreme regimes), I was able to find ways to move and eat joyfully and healthfully in a way that was and continues to be sustainable for me.
posted by rodneyaug at 11:26 AM on November 18, 2022 [21 favorites]

Eating dinner as a family. I offer to include any family members who are in the house but I try to not stress out about it if they aren't hungry yet / already ate / don't want what I want -- which is 99% of the time.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:46 AM on November 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

I haven't owned a dresser in 16 years. All clothes go in bins in the closet.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:47 AM on November 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

listening to news in the morning. nothing good comes of it, just a brain full of garbage.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:05 PM on November 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

Oh, something I forgot: "real" haircuts. It's been a few years since I've gone to a barbershop. I have weird, cowlick-y hair, and I always end up disappointed. So I bought some clippers and started doing it myself. I figure, if the choice is between a $30 barber haircut that I don't like or a $0 home haircut that I don't like, I'll take the $0 option. And after a few years of practice, I think I'm actually getting pretty good at it. My wife compliments it, at least. The best part is that if I did a bad job, I can always get the clippers back out and do it again. I've only ever had one mishap (the numerals 8 and 3 on the clipper guards look pretty similar), but like, I've had mishaps at real barbershops too. So I'm quite pleased with not having to worry about that anymore.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:12 PM on November 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

At 67 I gave up thinking oh no I'm fat. I was naturally skinny all my life, but face it, I'm old. I've had kids, thyroid and other issues. I realized I don't care about it. I eat healthily, I walk when the weather is nice. I'm fine.
I used to dust everything once a week. Who cares? I dust if we're having company. Good enough.
posted by Enid Lareg at 12:39 PM on November 18, 2022 [13 favorites]

"Improving" and "achieving"

I don't look to 'do better' or 'more' or 'smarter' so much anymore.

There was a home store slogan 'Always be improving!' a few years ago that hung around the store and I remember thinking, how fucking exhausting.

Now I consider sustainable and pleasurable so much more important than keeping my eyes on the next thing, the longer, more, or better whatever.

I don't give a shit.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:27 PM on November 18, 2022 [11 favorites]

Don't pay any attention to celebrities. None. I know that there are Kardashians but I don't think I could recognise more than one, I don't know why they're famous or how many there are. I wish there was a Kardashian filter I could install on chrome to block any stories about them so I don't even see the headlines.
I don't give a damn about what the neighbours or relatives think I should or shouldn't do. I learned that in 20 years ago and ooooohhh, what a relief. It's opened up my life to so many experiences that I wouldn't have had otherwise.
Just because other people like something, doesn't mean I have to or should.
The conventional university to work to marriage to home ownership to kids to career to retirement expectation of how to live a life and how to be happy may be true for some, but it certainly isn't for me and once I realised that....vooom.
posted by conifer at 2:00 PM on November 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Breakfast doesn’t need to be breakfast food. You can eat a sandwich for breakfast. This has made my mornings easier.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:30 PM on November 18, 2022 [17 favorites]

I stopped reading news on social media, and newspapers (my whole life I thought the NYT was “good for me”) and eventually realized I had new emotional bandwidth to take part in two things that are much more satisfying: political action and reading books.
posted by oxisos at 2:30 PM on November 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

I've given up on arguing with, or trying to change the minds or behaviour of people whom I don't care about (for whatever reason). I have to really like and respect somebody to be willing to engage in that kind of conversation these days, and wow, just letting most people be--and avoiding the difficult ones as much as possible--frees up a huge amount of time and energy.

For similar reasons, I've stopped pursuing a relationship with my sibling and their family. They don't like me, or the things I think, say, or do, and they don't offer me anything I want either. Accepting that fact has saved me a lot both emotionally and financially, since I no longer waste time and money traveling to visit them, trying to please them with gifts, etc.. It's okay to just drop the rope sometimes.
posted by rpfields at 2:57 PM on November 18, 2022 [7 favorites]

I wear a "uniform" most days where I'm not going to a social gathering. Same shade of clothing on the top, same type/color of pants on the bottom. No stress about trying to look unique and special every day. Save that effort when it matters. Male though, and I don't go into an office.
posted by meowzilla at 3:14 PM on November 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

A lot of people have mentioned clothes, so I will add that in addition to really only keeping and wearing clothes and shoes I find comfortable, I really only wear pants/shorts/dresses/skirts that I can also comfortably cycle in and try to always dress warm enough to enjoy being outside no matter what. Since I like to be able to hop on my bike or bikeshare at any moment, this is a freeing feeling.
posted by lolibrarian at 4:15 PM on November 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

I'm still learning how to do this, but I'm working with my therapist to not take on other people's stress. I'm naturally an emotional sponge, and it's really not healthy or productive for me. Things are very stressful at work right now, especially for the department that I support (but am not a member of), and shifting this mindset has been very freeing.
posted by radioamy at 5:02 PM on November 18, 2022 [6 favorites]

Making the bed. Most days, folding the covers down neatly as I sit up is more than sufficient. I make it “properly” when I change the sheets or have an especially restless night that throws everything out of whack. Otherwise, giving myself permission to not bother has saved a startling amount of mental energy.
posted by EvaDestruction at 5:48 PM on November 18, 2022 [7 favorites]

I don’t cook for holidays or parties. I just order food for social meals, including Christmas dinner, etc. No more planning, shopping, cooking, stressing, cleaning. I just order a bunch of stuff from a delivery service or small
caterer - sometimes the “correct” meal (turkey) and sometimes something random like dim
sum or tacos. So much easier, better pickings for people with dietary restrictions, and everyone’s happy, especially me.

Instead of buying birthday gifts, I send delivery food (macarons, fancy juices, Cinnabon, etc) to my friends on their bday or if they’re sick or sad. So easy (!!!) and they feel cared for.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:49 PM on November 18, 2022 [8 favorites]

I've stopped taking on other people's problems. I'm willing to help if I can, when asked. But if it's not my problem, it's not my problem. This has freed up a lot of mental energy.
posted by Joleta at 9:14 PM on November 18, 2022 [4 favorites]

I've stopped wearing anything except bedsocks to bed. Sleeping naked means I fall asleep faster; sleep more deeply; and I am not bothered by the seams of pyjamas or night gowns digging into my skin/muscles/joints and aggravating my neck pain, shoulder pain, lower back pain, hip pain. Sleeping naked also helps my Restless Legs be less bad.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 11:15 PM on November 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Wearing contact lenses. Glasses are cheaper, much less maintenance, don’t come with the risk of eye infections like contact lenses do. Glasses also provide some protection from eye injuries/foreign bodies.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 11:16 PM on November 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

Wearing a bra. I’ve had severe neck and shoulder pain on and off since I was 16, and many physiotherapists recommended breast reduction surgery. It turns out that I get a dramatic reduction in neck/shoulder pain if I never, ever wear a bra.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 11:17 PM on November 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

Waxing or shaving my body hair (no shaved legs, no shaved armpits). Never waxing or shaving means less skin irritation, less ingrown hairs, and less infected hair follicles. Context: I'm a cis woman.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 11:23 PM on November 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Reading a book to the end, even if I’m not enjoying it. Unless it’s a nonfiction book that contains information that I genuinely need to know, there is no point in continuing to read a book that I am not enjoying.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 11:25 PM on November 18, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Being friends with people whose company I don’t enjoy. I used to think that I had to be friends with people unless they were bad people. But it’s okay to let a friendship go if

a) you find someone boring;

b) the friendship feels very one-way - you provide them with a lot of emotional support, but they don’t provide you with any emotional support;

c) they irritate you or rub you the wrong way;

d) you don’t feel emotionally safe around them or relaxed around them.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 11:27 PM on November 18, 2022 [13 favorites]

I’ve stopped trying to have holiday celebrations. My birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas or any long weekend I just have an extra day or two to sleep.
posted by bendy at 1:29 AM on November 19, 2022 [2 favorites]

Four big ones for me:

- I don't regularly set an alarm clock. I wake up when I wake up, usually when it gets light. I just don't schedule things first thing in the morning. No snooze button. No getting jarred awake. Life changing.

- I don't go to business networking events I don't want to go to. I used to think I *should* go to every event, lunch or coffee I was invited to, to grow my network (am attorney), build relations, get MOAR CLIENTS! Then I realized - I already have enough clients, enough relationships, and it is more effective and enjoyable to spend time with the business contacts I already have and enjoy. (I ditch business contacts whose personal company I don't enjoy). No more awkward lunches with strangers who want me to send them business. Amazing.

- I stopped sorting, storing my personal papers like old utility bills, insurance paperwork, etc. If I keep paper copies at all, they go (unsorted) into a box labeled with the year. That goes in the garage. A few years ago I threw out all the boxes. Turns out, I never needed any of that stuff. Now I don't keep any paper. I got a good scanner and set it up with presets like "health insurance", "credit card statements" so it's easier to scan things that I do want to keep.

- Oh, and I don't balance my personal check book or even fill out a check register. F-it. I did an experimental year of balancing and there were no errors. So I just stopped. If there's a small error, it won't matter. If there's a big error, I'll notice through some other means.

Little ones:
- Holiday dinners are had at restaurants only.
- Told mom I was no longer tidying the house prior to her visits. At all. It turns out she doesn't care.
- No holiday cards.
- Got a house cleaner . Whatever she doesn't do, well, it just doesn't get done, and it's fine.
- I wear the same pair of jeans multiple times before washing (all in a row, gasp!)
posted by bluesky78987 at 7:01 AM on November 19, 2022 [14 favorites]

- Got a house cleaner . Whatever she doesn't do, well, it just doesn't get done, and it's fine

Oh god yes. House cleaning is a todo list that literally never ends. If you can afford to have someone do it you will free up more mental space than you can imagine.

Just make sure not to go all "I have to clean the house because the cleaner is coming" about it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:37 AM on November 19, 2022 [7 favorites]

This is small and very petty, but: satisfaction surveys.
Yes, there's nothing more satisfying than going ham on satisfaction surveys. Various workplace software keeps interrupting my drudgery to ask me how likely I am to recommend workplace software to people. Like, "Yo, Jim, enjoying that coffee? How was your weekend? Say, have you tried Teams lately? Zoom? Workfront?" Asinine. So I always say 0 likely, and then the survey asks, "please say more about why did you rate your likelihood to recommend our workerdronetools as you rated your likelihood to recommend same?" and I say "stop asking? this question makes no sense? Do you marketing bots truly think actual human persons on the globe go around recommending office software to one another? you are living in a sad, sad dream."
posted by Don Pepino at 2:28 PM on November 19, 2022 [1 favorite]

Sleeping in the same bed as my partner every night is not necessary. How freeing! Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. It's all fine and it doesn't matter at all. We can be on our own schedules, be fidgety, be sick, be alone, be farty, be just the right amount of personal cozy. Whatever we need. I used to really think that going to bed together every night was critical to the health of our's just...not. We sleep better when we do what we want. I love it.

Also, replying to texts when I receive them. Not necessary. You can reply whenever you want. It's fine.
posted by luzdeluna at 6:15 PM on November 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

I don't worry about doing my nails any more or having someone else do them. I clip them if they get long enough to be annoying and keep them clean - that's it. They seem a lot healthier when they're left alone anyway.
posted by Jess the Mess at 7:32 PM on November 19, 2022 [4 favorites]

sciencegeek: You can eat a sandwich for breakfast.

In many places, including where I live, a sandwich is widely regarded as breakfast (and lunch) food. Many generations have grown up healthy and happy while eating bread for breakfast and lunch every day.

It's not a shortcut. It's food.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:24 AM on November 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

Pick a default setting.

I'm not suggesting to optimize your life and wear the same outfit everyday, but if I go to get dressed and feel uninspired or uninterested in the process, I put on my Default Outfit. (which for me is a dark medium rise straight leg jean and a flowy blouse/tshirt that is casual but smart enough for 90% of situations and leather pointy toed flats that are walkable but not sloppy)

If neither of us feels like ordering from anywhere nor cooking anything in particular, we have Default Dinner (chicken fingers and rice and corn.)

It's nice to make it so that the answer to common questions can't be "I don't know/care" because thats not an answer and doesn't relieve the pressure of the question, it just forces you to decide later and in a worse mood. So if there's always an answer, you don't actually have to ask the question unless you feel like it.

I learned this lesson from my Dad, who sent us a Cheddar Cheese Sandwich, Apple, Goldfish Crackers and a Juicebox for school lunch unless we told him a different idea of what to eat for lunches on grocery day. It was nice to know that even if I didn't/couldn't figure out what I wanted, I would just get cheese sandwiches.
posted by euphoria066 at 5:02 PM on November 20, 2022 [8 favorites]

I don't cook. I know adults are supposed to, and I know how, but I hate it. And I don't have kids or anyone else I'm responsible for, so I just don't do it. I eat a lot of snack-type foods: whole raw fruits and vegetables, handfuls of nuts, granola bars. I make cereal and heat up frozen dinners and eat bagged salad dumped directly from the bag into a bowl. The most cooking I do is boiling eggs for breakfast or cooking rice to go with a frozen dinner or veggies in one of those steam-in-bag microwave setups. I have my go-to takeout places, and I eat at restaurants with friends. In fact, some friends I've made this declaration to have decided I need more home cooked meals, so I get invited over for dinner more often, and I bring a good bottle of wine and a hostess gift, and I eat their fancy casserole and homemade cake, and we socialize, and it's a win-win. It's been so freeing to realize I can just abdicate this basic adult task I don't like, and they won't revoke my grownup credentials.
posted by decathecting at 8:18 AM on November 21, 2022 [5 favorites]

I stopped caring that cargo shorts aren't in fashion, at least on women. Who cares?! So many pockets!!
posted by soakimbo at 9:26 PM on November 21, 2022 [8 favorites]

The practical suggestions are great. What proved most freeing for me is the realisation that "my genes are not my destiny." I am not my Mom and I am not my Dad. I can be either or neither of these two in so far as I choose. We humans are learning machines. We can self correct. We can improve. We have extraordinary autonomy to craft our lives. Our genes are one signpost among many.
posted by dutchrick at 5:55 AM on November 22, 2022 [6 favorites]

I stopped being ashamed of the fact that I collect things! I love my collections. They are an extension of my personality and by being ashamed of them I was really being ashamed of myself. Now I show them to people whenever someone asks what's in the bookshelf behind me during a video call. It's been so wonderful to really celebrate things that bring me joy. :)
posted by The Adventure Begins at 2:49 AM on November 27, 2022 [6 favorites]

I only bake with salted butter. You know how people always say the difference between home cooking and restaurant cooking is more salt and more butter? Nothing I'm making can't handle that extra bump of salt (often tastes better), and this way I don't have to think about it at the store or deal with having to butter things with unsalted butter.

(Late to the thread but eating it up <3)
posted by storpsmop at 12:03 PM on November 27, 2022 [3 favorites]

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