Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Fills You?

When I was in college, I had to take a Speech class. Which was fine, but in actuality it was more of a self-reflection class with lots of journaling and emotional diatribes by a female teacher who alternated between being teary-eyed and wistful or being giddy like Fraulein Maria spinning in the hills in The Sound of Music. Anyway, there was a time when we were asked to make a list. It was to be a list of things that made us happy. You know, like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. So I set about making my list. It went something like this:

1. Clouds
2. Bunnies
3. Music
4. Prisms
5. Cheesecake
6. Fall leaves
7. Science
8. Babies
9. Baths
10. Flowers

I took this assignment more seriously than some people did. I started thinking about not just what makes me smile, but what fills me up. What makes me feel whole? You know the feeling. The one where you just have this welling up inside, of joy, or peace or fullness. When I sit and hold a bunny and pet its soft fur and embrace its quietness, with its little nose wiggling away, I just feel so happy. When I go outside, I always look up at the clouds... probably more than anyone else I have ever met. I would love to just lie in the grass and gaze at the clouds for hours. I so enjoy their ever-changing shapes, the subtle color patterns and the way they form and dissipate. It makes me feel wonderful just looking at them. And the smell and crunch of fall leaves brings me an inner peace I can't describe. When I am sad, a favorite album by Neil Young or Bob Dylan, Jewel, or Chris Ledoux (among my other widely varied musical interests) cheers me and brings me back to myself. I take a long, hot bath with sweetly scented bath salts to rejuvenate when I am tired. Reading science articles, holding my babies (even when they are grown!) and having beautiful flowers in my house all fill me up.

What fills you?

Are you trying to fill your holes and gaps with food?

When you feel empty inside do you try and stuff the chasm with potato chips and pizza? Do you eat and eat and eat until your stomach is about to pop, searching for the fullness that never really comes?

If only we would eat when we are truly hungry, our lives would be so much simpler. But many of us don't even remember what real hunger feels like. The next time you are reaching for that snack, stop and feel. Is your stomach growling? Is there a rumbling, gurgling, or physical sensation because it has been a long while since you last ate? If not, then why are you eating? Are you bored and trying to fill your time? Are you lonely and trying to fill your heart? Because whatever it is you are about to eat, is not going to fill you. Not if you aren't physically hungry.

We have to figure out how to fill our souls with things OTHER than food. For me, trying to fill my soul and fill my stomach are two incompatible activities. If I am outside enjoying the fall leaves and clouds, I do NOT want to ruin it by eating a burger while I am doing that. I cannot focus on both things at once. My switch is broken or something. Similarly, if I am getting filled by, say, a conversation with a dear friend, I do not want to stuff Doritos in my mouth while I am listening to her. Nor do I want to eat chocolates in the bathtub. My senses can't enjoy it all at once, and one things seems to distract from the other.

So here is my suggestion: make yourself a list. It doesn't have to be long, but it should take a little thought. What things fill you up? You know something fills you if, after you interact with it or enjoy it, you feel BETTER. You feel stronger, or happier, or more at peace. The opposite of filling is draining. Some things will drain you, leaving you feeling WORSE, tired, unhappy, or unsettled. (Often, watching TV is a draining experience, not to mention time-wasting. Be aware of this as you watch TV. It is a rare thing to find a show that actually fills you). Things like arguing, binging, having a cluttered home, or being around certain people are draining. Avoid these, and focus on the things that fill you.

As I said in the last post, sunshine is often a filling thing for people. But everyone is different. I would like to hear what fills YOU. You could post this list on your blog or leave it in the comments section here, but at least think about what you can fill yourself with that is NOT FOOD. As we fill ourselves with the many wonderful things in this world, we will automatically eat less AND be happier. What could be better?

Enjoy your day... be filled, and have peace!


Pandora said...

Lyn, I read yesterdays and todays posts at the same time, and am so glad that you are feeling better. Ever since you had the flu your posts have sounded a little down...I'm glad the gray mood seems to be passing.

As always your wise comments make me think a lot. I don't have my list readily at hand...but I'm sure I will have one by the end of the next week or so, I need to reflect. I read on somewhats 3FC post "if hunger isn't the problem then food isn't the answer" and your post reminded me of that again.

Hug a bunny or a baby...look at a cloud and have a really good day!


Anonymous said...

Amazing post! I want to make a list too:
1. Prayer
2. Music/Singing
3. Being outdoors or driving with the windows down in fall.
4. Being silly with my kids and/or friends.
5. Staying up so late that everything is funny and I giggle my head off.
I'll be trying to think of some more. This helps bring things into perspective.

new*me said...

Great post for reflection! Thanks for putting so much of yourself in it ;)

What fills me :
snuggling with hubby
kisses and hugs from my children
rocking my twins to sleep at night...especially when their eyelashes start to flutter as they drift off
Fall leaves for me favorite season
Christmas music
coming out of the cold into my warm home
smell of coffee
smell of fresh laundry
a relaxing massage
swinging on my porch swing
sunlight streaming through the window.....

oh, that was just a start. I am blessed ;)

Marshmallow said...

I find myself with very little to say. Fantastic post :-)

I think you need to turn the 'fulfilment' list into a meme!

Kada said...

Fabulous post.

1. Exercise
2. Music
3. Cooking
4. Water (as in to swim in or sit beside)
5. My husband, family and friends
6. Reading
7. Alaska
8. Chocolate
9. Baby critters
10. Dancing

I like your writing style. Will definitely be back to check out more of the blog.

redballoon said...

Lyn, I've been thinking of this kind of thing a lot recently, but I have a big question. Often times, not having the things I so want is the very thing that sets me off eating in a fit of self-pity. What do you do when you can't have something you really want right then, right NOW! When I'm at work and absolutely hating it and dead tired and want OUT, it's because I'm so unhappy that I eat. I can't go out and do the things I want or put myself in a place I want to be.
What do you do then?

Ceres said...

Ha, nice post :-) Here's my list, but it's not necessarily in order of priority, and I had to list more than 10:
1. Hugging and being hugged by friends and family
2. Music (esp. singing)
3. Dogs (playing with one whenever I get a chance)
4. Warm drinks, esp. coffee and soups
5. Lying around in bed, sleeping or just thinking, hugging my pillow
6. The smell and taste of fresh fruit
7. Exercise
8. The smell of nature, esp. in the spring or after the rain
9. Babies
10. Paintings
11. Walking around big cities
12. Swimming/the beach
13. Curling with a good book

Mara said...

Nice post. My list:

Hearing a childlaugh
Being outside
A day with my family
A great Friend


Skinny Inside said...

Thank you for this. I've just posted my own list on my blog. You are such an inspiration to me, keep up the great work! (btw, I'm in the habit of 16oz of water first thing, and just bought some green tea:-)