What If We Tried Doing Less and Getting More Out of Life?
I don't want to sound too spiritual, but when you are true to yourself and follow through with things that connect with you meaningfully, somehow things fall into place. ~ Bennett Miller
Starting off another year always comes with a mix of nostalgia for the good things that are past and a dose of healthy optimism for what’s to come for us in the coming year. That’s why we find our inboxes flooded with messages about the year-in-review, gratitude messages from every business you’ve given your email address to over the past decade and a million different suggestions about how to make the upcoming year your best yet. It can be – A LOT, I know. Celebrating our joyful memories and expressing thanks are good things, even if it sometimes feels a bit disingenuous done impersonally on a massive scale.
In our modern society, at least here in the United States, there’s a huge emphasis on accomplishments, financial success and overall achievement. There’s less of priority placed on balance, honesty and authenticity. Since 2015, I’ve been writing about finding balance - researching, learning, experimenting and sharing my thoughts, ideas and experiences through this blog. Like many of us, in my search for balance I’ve hit plenty of roadblocks along the way, had to take some detours and a few times had to pull off the road completely and change direction in my search for balance.
Here’s something that’s become very obvious to me over the past few years. Balance means very different things to everyone. For some it’s a completely elusive idea and something that simply isn’t practical or possible if their goal is achieving success as they define it. Many spend copious amounts of time re-working their life and schedule to calibrate that optimal amount of rest and work. Multiple vacations are a salve for the soul yet they need to paid for somehow and thus the time between getaways ends up overflowing with working time leaving no space for anything else. Resting has become synonymous with sleep while sleep itself has been demonized as a tool of the weak-willed.
Instead of always DOING, I boldly propose we schedule in more intentional time each week to simply BE. Just as our physical bodies benefit greatly from time off between workouts (any body-builder will tell you their biggest gains are on their rest day), our mental and emotional bodies also benefit from slowing down of our breath, our thoughts and our activity level. Taking the time explore proper breathing and experimenting with different styles of meditation can give you the mindset shift to live authentically, passionately and holistically.
Another pervasive idea is that if a little is good, a LOT is much better. Although I understand the desire to have more of what feels good in our lives, it’s important to remember that we absolutely CAN have too much of a good thing. Losing weight can be great for your overall health. When you lose too much weight, your body becomes unable to support basic metabolic functions like regulating blood pressure and powering your immune system to name a few. Similarly, increasing your muscle mass with strength training can build strength which is beneficial for supporting bone health. Often, though excessive muscle strength comes at the cost of flexibility. Having strong muscles allows you to easily lift heavy things, though it’s equally important to be able to get yourself out of bed and touch your toes without excruciating pain. By the same token, those who are incredibly flexible can have an impressive range of motion within their joints while also lacking the basic stability that comes with muscular strength.
Strength in excess can easily become a weakness. This is true not just within the body, though. We see this in the detail-oriented person who, without a healthy balance, becomes obsessive or the super chill personality that just can’t get motivated and ends up stuck in a holding pattern in their life. At the same time, the overly driven personality can’t or won’t slow down for even a moment and ends up burning themselves out. No matter what the strength is, there can always be a downside to too much of it. So, what’s the answer – how do we keep from more being too much?
Mindfulness. The process of checking in with ourselves on a regular basis ensures that we are aware of what we are doing and why we are doing it. Shifting our mindset to one that includes active awareness and deep connection with ourselves can seem daunting. Like life itself, it’s a practice. We don’t always get it right the first time and it can be frustrating sometimes while seemingly effortless at other times. Like living itself, the process itself continues to be a worthy endeavor.
Reclaim Your Health: Body, Mind & Spirit