I grew up afraid of being caught idle. It just wasn’t a thing to do. In fact, there were a million BETTER things to do rather than sitting around in your Gap loungewear (didn’t exist) and chillaxing (nope, not yet).
Maybe it was the influence of Depression Era grandparents. Or our conservative Catholic school. Or the parental anxiety caused by the landmark launch of MTV.
All I know is that for the last 40 years I continuously have worked hard at not working so hard.
Here are some Jedi Mind Tricks that have helped me. Perhaps they’ll help you or a friend who can’t seem to turn off the ON switch:
- Check your thinking. Resting on the couch or in a hammock or prone in the middle of the bed is NOT synonymous with laziness. Resting is its own thing. It has value. It is the important ebb that brings on the next flow.
- Turn off the electronics. For me, nothing raises the I’m-being-so-lazy flag faster than watching TV for too long or at the “wrong” time. When those feelings get evoked, shut down the electronics. Watching images flashing on a screen isn’t always the most relaxing thing to do anyway. Grab a magazine. A book. A crossword puzzle. A doodle pad.
- Get physical. Sometimes you just need to do more to do less. Shock yourself with a grand gesture of playfulness. For me, this usually takes the form of jumping in a hot bath fully clothed, swinging on the tire swing, digging in the dirt or running wind sprints in my front yard.
- Pace yourself. When you die, your “in basket” won’t be empty, as the awesome Richard Carlson said in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. You could work around the clock for the next 40 years and, still, your “in basket” would not be empty. It’s just life.
- Walking meditation, Tibetan monk-style. OK, this is totally out of left field, but it is incredible. Walk so slowly and mindfully so that you feel every movement of your feet and the ground beneath you. Barefoot. Be aware of sights and sounds around you. Want to see it in action? Check out this video.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. And, sure, hard work is great. But so are boundaries.
This weekend let’s channel our inner Spaniard by living the Spanish proverb: “How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward.”