Are we so afraid of spending time alone with our own thoughts that we find tasks to occupy every moment of our waking day?
We must stop consuming our days in this unmitigated busyness. When we’re running from moment to moment, task to task, we lose perspective. Events and circumstances start to feel all-consuming. We stop finding happiness in the stillness. Daily problems become something to be managed, not resolved.
When we’re caught up in our heads, distracted by worry or fear, we’re not present or clear-headed. And when we’re not clear-headed, we lose the connection to ourselves, our environment and the enrichment of our lives.
The next time you’re stuck in traffic, fretting and fuming as the vehicles inch along, or you’re standing in an incredibly long line at the bank listening to parents attempt to placate their whining child, whom they lovingly call ‘incorrigible’ and the rest of the people in the bank would term ‘monstrous,’ take just a moment (you have a moment, you’re not doing anything) to check your pulse. Is it racing? Are your muscles tight? Is your jaw clenched? Are the thoughts running thorough your head filled with words your mother never taught you?
Then maybe it’s time to take a deep breath, relax and ask yourself a few questions:
- Is (whatever you are doing right now) really that urgent?
- Will the world come to an end if you don’t get there in the next 43.2 seconds?
- Will agitating yourself about this delay do anything whatsoever to alter the situation?
If you’re incapable of completing a project or solving a problem, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Creatively write that narrative – with all the nightmarish details you can imagine. By the end of that exercise, you’ll no doubt find yourself feeling a lot less entrenched in the details of the task.
When we’re constantly busy, there’s no white space in our mind for creative thinking, ideas or the relationship building opportunities that could carve a new path for resolving the conflicts that affect everyone. Instead, we’re tense, irritable and quick to anger. We lash out, grow numb and pine for that long-awaited vacation away from it all.
That’s not living. And you deserve better.
I used to believe that my day was wholly unproductive if I didn’t check off all the boxes on my daily to-do list. (I still make a list of the activities that I need to undertake each week to meet my obligations, so as not to cause pain to anyone who’s waiting on me.)
Yesterday, I was a slave to the obligation list. Today, I intentionally took time to zone out before writing this article. I recognize that I need to rest my mind every day. As hard as it might seem, it’s imperative that I carve out space to let my mind shut off from having to process, apply or interpret information. This means no TV, no conversation, no reading and no problem solving. So I watched the sun come up, enjoyed the quail running around on the lawn and listened to how the birds welcome a sunny morning.
How will you make time today? Will you take a break from the chores, from the duties of the day? Will you let your breath come and go naturally, and your eyes roam wherever they want? Will you watch the trees sway, the clouds float, the stars shimmer?
If you make that kind of time a daily ritual, you might just find that when it comes time to focus on challenges and tasks, your energy and focus are more easily accessed. Test it out for 30 days and see how it helps.
Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. For interview requests, click here.
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