What Is Sacrifice?

In recent months, I’ve often found myself using the phrase, ‘I’m drowning in paper.’ While my clients assure me that my office isn’t really that messy, that’s not the way it feels to me – probably because every stray piece of paper symbolizes a hateful task (still) yet to be done. Instead of an itemized to-do list, it’s a physical one that has mass that’s taking up actual and mental real estate. The fact that it’s been bugging me for so long also points to the emotional space it’s taking up as well.

Normally, the word “sacrifice” conjures up images of missing out on all of life’s great moments while you fight the good fight, pay off your debts or lose 20 pounds. In Ayurveda, we think of it a bit differently. Instead of trading off something we want for something else we want more, we consider giving up the things we don’t even value but do anyway. This leaves MUCH more time, energy, clarity and bandwidth to do what we came for.

I know that there’s a movement out there of people who choose not to exercise because, according to them, they hate every minute of it. Some rebel against the notion of ‘optimizing’ their sleep, and others consider ‘balance’ to be a dirty word.

I’d suggest (since I’m sacrificing arguing) that exercise might feel profoundly different if these people sacrificed unworthiness and hating on their bodies first. 7 hours of sleep would be welcome for someone who has sacrificed being booked into their much needed me-time at the end of the day. Balance has more appeal when it’s seen as the most efficient way of being for YOU instead of just another failure in a barrage of competing demands by others on your time.

Sacrifice involves making careful choices about what we really want in our world, knowing that we can’t have it all. When you think of this through the lens of giving up your bad habits that make you feel crappy, why keep those things anyway?

  • Exercise so that you can FEEL good instead of looking good, although looking good may be a natural consequence.
  • Eat well so that you can feel sharp for the things you want to do instead of eating to fog out. If that means making more changes so that you can live a life you’re willing to show up for, do that, too.
  • Go to bed at a good time most nights so that you can feel alive and relaxed for your life, instead of wired and tired.
  • Learn how to use your creative and personal energy to best advantage. Even though we rarely feel like doing the thing we need to do, it keeps us on our game.
  • The more we tweak these things, the more resilient we are and the better we feel. It becomes a positive feedback loop.

These days, my time is short on obligation and long on conscious choice. I don’t spend much time doing things I don’t enjoy unless those things truly need to be done to accomplish my long-term goals. This year’s sacrifices start with cleaning up my office and holding myself to the systems that work so I don’t have filing and bookkeeping taking up valuable bandwidth every day. I suspect that the most hateful part is not the tasks themselves, but the way they hang over my head and get in the way of the many things I do enjoy.

What will you sacrifice? What activity will you stop doing and what will you do instead?

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