I came across this short post from Zen Habits the other day and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. In a nutshell, it’s about learning to stop before the point of exhaustion. It’s about learning to leave a little reserve in the tank. It’s about leaving yourself wanting more — and liking it? In life, in travel, in work. And I’m just going to add: in my closet.
Could it be that my “wanting more” urges could be reframed as something positive, something to be kept and savored? Instead of something that’s constantly sending me out to consume more and do more?
Like, when you were a kid, did you ever get a present that was a total surprise? You had no idea what’s inside, and for a moment you live in possibility. You almost don’t want to open it because as soon as you do, the feeling of possibility will be gone. While it’s still wrapped, anything could be inside!
I want to start treating my “wanting more” urges like that present, and just live in that possibility for a while.
What did you think of the Zen Habits post? Did it resonate with you?
Shirt: old from Madewell (this season’s version)
Jeans: old from Gap (similar)
Shoes: old from Madewell (almost identical)
Bag: Marc Jacobs (similar for less)
Watch: Skagen via Nordstrom
Thanks for sharing the Zen Habits post! Perfectly timed to set my mind and spirit at ease looking forward to a hectic schedule and so many requests for activities! Reinforcing that it’s okay to “leave some reserves in the tank”.
oh man, you have no idea how much i needed that post! i’ve been struggling with + working on this for awhile, and i’ve found that the wanting more is what motivates me to keep going. it’s the good stuff. if i empty my tank, then i all i want to do is lay on the couch eating bon bons + watching days of our lives ( although some days, let’s be real, that is necessary ).
also, where did you get that faux brick background for your photos? i’m looking for something similar for a photo shoot. thank you for your lovely blog!
I love Zen Habits! And yes, it resonates with me too. With eating, socializing, doing work, exercising. The best part is the looking forward to part anyway. Overdoing anything, enjoyable or not, doesn’t leave me feeling great. Thanks for the inspiration!
That’s a really smart idea, leaving yourself wanting more. So often were taught to work as long as we can but it makes it harder to recharge in time for the next day. Leaving yourself wanting more can be great motivation to get up the next day and do something you otherwise might not have.
Bri Marie says
I love that Zen Habits post! And I love how you’ve applied it to your closet. Definitely something I’m going to try to be aware of moving forward!
I think there is a sentiment in the post that I understand and that is important; that downtime is as important as work time, and that you shouldn’t push yourself constantly into regret, anxiety, and fatigue. Also that you should be able to be present and enjoy what you can do instead of focusing on what isn’t done. I don’t however agree with some of the examples that are used. Travel is an amazing thing, and you will never be able to do everything. You can live somewhere for years and never do everything. However, I don’t see the purpose of not trying to do as much as you can do. I recently went to Amsterdam for four days. I did not get to do every single thing I had on my “must-do” list, but I tried. I may never get to go there again, and I have zero regret because I know that I got to do and enjoy as much as I could.
I also think that – depending on your goals – that is pretty bad exercise advice. For someone on day one, it is probably a good idea to ease yourself in to pushing your body. However if you want your body to change and improve, it needs to be pushed. I’m a pretty avid yoga doer and there is a concept in yoga called “playing with your edges”, that you shouldn’t see a pose an a finite result but that you should strive to find YOUR edge – and then see where you can take yourself. You should never overdo it, but in my opinion consistently under-doing it as of little value as well.
Overall I thought it was an interesting article with some useful insights, but for the way I took it literally there were some ideas that didn’t quite add up for me.
Hmmm. About the exercise examples. I agree that it depends on your goals. Also, I think in order to be able to step back from over-extension you have to know your limits, similar to the playing with your edges that you describe. I have been a runner for 10 years. Not an elite runner by any means, but I’ve done probably 30+ races. And several years ago I started playing around with my training. Focusing on being present, listening to my body, tempo work and really backed off of going for balls out performances. For instance, my last marathon my goal was to sprint the last mile and just be really present in the glory of that last burst through the chute. But you have to listen to your body closely to stay right up against the line without crossing over and exhausting yourself. I think of it like keeping the engine slightly revved but not redlining. After years running I know when I’m there and what I’m not. But you have to have a practice of being REALLY present in order to get to this space.
apologies fo the terrible typing. Im on a new phone and havent got the hang of it.
I took away something different from the article.i dont think this is about never pushing your boundaries but about givjng yourself the choice of less being enough. An important point to a cultural generation who coined the phrase “FOMO”.
I think yoga especially focuses on less but enough, Often the boundaries you tackle are in your head and you ease in. Certainly in its more traditional forms has no concept of competition as motivation-(surely different from sports on the whole).Restorative yoga is a great example of the antithesis of “more more more”.
I completely understand the travelling. Im definitely a packed itinerary girl. But then i went witha more experienced friend. She worked at a completely different speed, but i came a wayfeeling like I d seen and experienced the culture. For example it doesn’t matter what you go see in sweden, if you didnt take time out for a fika.
Also “leaving a little in the tank” can help you grab unexpected opportunities.
Its not that being uber busy, when you want to, is bad; just that it uses your resources and this might impact another part of your life. this article highlights another option (which is probably more sustainable in the long term). Which for me personally is a difficult thing to remember In life!
” you can do anything, but perhaps not everything” seems apt.
Anyway my two pennies worth.
Thank you again for another great resource and inspiration for simplification!
It sure does! I’d rather do less, have more and be happy! Caroline… I even narrowed down my list of blogs that I follow. Yours is one of three that I really enjoy visiting. You inspire me loads!
It’s a lot of fun to turn that urge into a thought experiment–what might I find at the thrift store next? What could I do with a (insert article of clothing here)? It actually helps me think through what items would truly enhance my wardrobe and which are just sort of eye candy/possibility candy. The last several times I’ve wanted a zip-up lightweight hoodie, or a pair of shorts in a different color, I’ve taken a moment to imagine how I would use the item and how it would hit a sweet spot in my wardrobe–or not. Living with those possibilities has helped me decide if I really should get that item or not–and then savor the fact that next time I went to the thrift store, I would look for/buy that item. It really helps me feel more content with what I have because I enjoy the whole process–not just the short-lived high of impulse shopping–and that practice of considering an item over time means I’m much more likely to end up with an item that’s a much better match for my wardrobe. It’s a middle road if (like me) you want to be able to slowly build your capsule during a season (rather than have a deadline) and you don’t need to stop shopping cold turkey to keep from going overboard.
And the items that don’t make the cut from fantasy to reality? They get a little nod and a knowing smile at the store as I remember the fun I had imagining what I’d do with them.
What a thought provoking question! I think that it’s always good to have something to look forward to and daydream about, but I also know that if you wait too long to fulfill that goal it starts kind of ebbing away the glory of attaining it! You’ll spend so much time and energy imagining that the object of your goal could never live up to expectation. At least, this is how it feels to me. I get sour grapes pretty fast over things I want but can’t have, so I try to get my goal within a reasonable window of time. Like I wanted a pair of sneakers- I looked and pondered for like a month and a half and finally found something reasonable. If I can continued looking I’d probably get overwhelmed by all the choices and never decide! Great question!
I’m so glad I found your little corner of the blog world. I look forward to the simplicity of your posts (and outfits!). Thanks for sharing the Zen Habits post; it’s a great and timely reminder for me to stop moving from one extreme to the next, but instead find a comfortable place closer to the middle.
I simply adore this and you.
just two cents from me: be sure it doesn’t stem from lack. If your are wanting more because you feel you don’t have enough, i think that is something deeper to explore. There is always abundance.
This is so insightful. Thanks. /\
I love that. I need to practice letting myself be okay with wanting more.
This resonates with me SO much right now. Thanks for sharing.
Great post. Coincidentally yesterday I went out shopping. I had the list I made of items to fill in my spring capsule wardrobe and was looking to just buy the shoes on my list and perhaps a shirt if I found the right one.
You know how it is when you have a list and just so much money, that’s when the store is filled with wonderful bargains that all fit and look fabulous on you. I actually found the perfect shoes and the shirt that had been so hard to find but there were at least three other things that were kinda on my list, sort of.
Then I did something really unusual for me. I just got the two things, because it was going so perfect. I was feeling great and I didn’t want to mess it up by crossing the line and shopping too much, being impulsive. So I left, wanting more. I will probably go back and see if the great leather sneakers are still there next weekend, if I have figured out exactly how they fit in the wardrobe and convinced myself I will wear them enough. For once I came home feeling satisfied but looking forward to the opportunity for another little shopping trip down the line.
I am learning that anything more than enough is too much.
Love the quote on living in the possibility of less. I so plan to try to apply this more to my closet and my day to day existence. I know I don’t stop when I should. For example, I’ll say I will stop and get ready for bed after I spend 15 minutes on check working email…. 30 minutes later…. then my night is cut short and I’m in bed late.
I do feel I did this on our recent trip to Texas. We visited Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. We saved Austin for our next trip. We left ourselves wanting more- LOVE IT!
Thanks Caroline- you always share the best stuff~
I follow Leo’s blog daily! I loved that post and thought about it off and on a few days too!
I love this outfit….I am on the search for a similar pair of shoes :)
I wanted to thank you for your blog and the work you put into it. You inspired me so much, that I started my own capsule wardrobe attempt. So I tried to translate the ‘rules’ (a little modified so they fit me) into german because I do think this concept should be spread around the world and can help a lot of german ladies as well. I linked to your blog and used a picture of you, too (with credits and link of course). I hope that is ok with you? If not please let me know.
And I really need to stress that I love the idea and your blog. Please keep the good work up!
Lots of love from beyond the pond ;)
That was a great Zen Habits post! I like to practice this in my travel and exercise and have thought about it more when it comes to eating because I hate that super full feeling as well. I love that feeling on a run where I know I pushed myself but I still have a little left in the tank, or a day spent walking all around a new city but then spending the evening in the rental cooking and reading and maybe squeezing in a little yoga before bed. But it is interesting to apply this to my online habits, esp. on social media. I will have to try that!
Yes! This is totally the way I want to approach the world. And I feel the same way about gifts. I think that’s a big reason I love gift wrapping and was the reason I started blogging. To share in the special anticipation of a wrapped gift.
I love this post and feel the same, there is a huge component of the ‘want’ in wanting things that is lost when you actually get it. I’m really interested in holding out to try and enjoy the chase, the longing etc more.
I have to say that I have FOMO syndrome… Gotta work on it somehow!
That Zen Habits post was great and timely, Caroline! Lately, I’ve been feeling run down and exhausted from “stuff” – life, work, volunteer/ministry, doing creative stuff. The idea of doing things and stopping to leave you wanting more is such a freeing concept. Thank you for sharing!!
Andrea Hartman says
I love this!! Thank you for writing a blog that makes me want to be a better person.
Stephanie Hillberry says
I loved this idea of leaving a little in the tank. To give it a try, I left work a full hour earlier than I normally do and it’s been the most wonderful night.
As per usual I love the ideas and links you share:) thank you!
This reminds of Emily Dickinson’s poem:
I dwell in Possibility – (466)
I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –
Un-fancy has inspired me in ways I have not been able to explain. The essential closet has spilled over into the essential kitchen, the essential schedule, the essential business and now the essential home.
What has been funny to me is that I have NEVER cared about clothes, fashion or style until discovering your blog. And now, I am obsessed…with finding THAT sweater, THOSE booties, and the PERFECT clutch. Your style and the parts of your life that you so generously share with us have awakened a longing in me that had been dormant for a very long time.
This post reminded me of one of my favorite parenting idea introduced to me by the author Wendy Mogel. She writes about the gift of longing and it’s value in the jewish tradition and in society in general.
When I feel longings, when I have desires that I am honest about, I misunderstand the goal to be satisfying those longings. But the real gift is all of the life, movement and passion that are birthed in seasons of longing.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the inspiration and the invitation to less and so much more!
Caroline, this is so random, but doesn’t this fab wallpaper pattern look just like the print on your Madewell flats?
(Is it weird that I instantly thought of your shoes when I was browsing removable wallpapers??)
That shirt is fantastic! I’ll have to search ebay for it ;c) I love your style!
This post REALLY resonated with me. I had heard the term “living in possibility” before but never stopped to wonder about the meaning. You’ve just explained it perfectly, and I definitely know what that feels like. So many times I’ve been on a plane or on the way to a friend, a romantic partner or a new adventure and THAT moment in transit, between the known past and the unknown potential future, is the greatest feeling of combined contentment and suspense. It’s not about expectations, but the open-ended possibilities. Sorry to any nervous fliers, but I always think, “This plane could go down right now, and I would die completely satisfied.”