Seven ways to achieve “enlightened selfishness”

I schedule my life like a psycho. And I’m not talking five-year plans here. I’m talking day-to-day, hour-to-hour, caught-in-the-minuscule-minutes-from-dawn-to-dusk type scheduling.

Like today’s schedule:

6 a.m. editing/emails

8 a.m. coffee catch up with a guy I’ve gone out with

9:30 a.m. coffee meeting with a friend who’s in marketing

11 a.m. interview for an article

12:15 p.m. lunch with a coworker

1 p.m. onward in the office to crank out the rest of my work

6 p.m. yoga.

I turn my paper planner into this scribbled out Tetris game as if to prove to myself that I can do it all. I can’t. I’m trying to prioritize how I spend my time and who I spend it with. And I stress out because I still can’t fit it all (and everyone) in.

I’m not alone here. Whether my friends are creatives or doctors or financial advisers we’re all battling the clock to get dinner together during the week, or to meet for a drink, or to make enough time for significant others. And then, on top of it, to make time for ourselves.

That matters. I’ve heard it called “enlightened selfishness,” understanding that you need to do what makes you happy in order to feel fulfilled and at peace, and in order for you to then bring that happiness and fulfillment and peace into your relationships with others.

Enlightened selfishness is about focusing on you first, akin to putting on your own air mask if a plane is going down before turning to the person next to you. It’s about spicing up your schedule with the little things that complete you.

How I’ve been doing it lately:

Occasional pedicure dates with a girlfriend

At Creative Nails Tan & Alterations off Park Road, this costs $21. This takes maybe an hour. This means catching up with a friend and giving some TLC to those feet that carry me thousands of steps in a single day.

Literally adding spice

I rolled into work four minutes later than I said I would yesterday (gasp) because I pulled my bike over at Savory Spice Shop at Atherton Mill on the way. I wanted a zesty tofu rub and was told the Cajun Blackening Seasoning was heat forward, so I sprinkled it into my palm, sniffed it, tasted it, savored it — and bought it.


Scheduling “me” time

I told my friends I’d show up for our weekly viewing session of “The Bachelorette” 15 minutes later than originally planned because I was squeezing in a Y2 Yoga session over in Cotswold after work. But I made it back to South End. I showed up. I even brought Sriracha Carrot Hummus from Publix and all was well.


Embarking on weekly lunch adventures

A coworker and I dip out of work to try to go somewhere new every week. Or someplace we haven’t been in far too long. It shakes up the routine. Today’s destination: Sir Edmond Halley’s off Park Road.

Putting off emails to relax

I’ve been reserving my first cup of coffee in the morning for reading “The Magician’s Assistant,” an amazingly contemplative book I stumbled across at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library. We all deserve 10 minutes of solace before diving into emails, right?


Taking a moment to let someone spoil me if they feel like it

There’s no need to be greedy here, but if someone offers you a gift, you’re actually allowed to take it. Example: My dad wanted to buy me a T-shirt at Caribou Coffee when we were traveling together because he thought it was awesome. And if someone really wants to gift you with something, if that brings them pleasure, why not just smile about it, relish it and say thank you for it? Who says you’re not worth it?


Asserting what I like and don’t like

Corey and I were trying to figure out where to film our C5 hiring video (PS: We’re hiring) and thought a brewery would be a good fit. But we both know I only drink wine, no beer, so I suggested NoDa Company Store, which I know has both beverage types, and which I already know I love. Lo and behold, we both had fun.

So be enlightened in your shows of selfishness. Negotiate times and plans. Go someplace new. Say “no” when you need to and “yes” when you can.

This is your day. This is your life.

Photos: Katie Toussaint