Pause a Little To Read This:
We’ve all seen those drawings and paintings of Sisyphus, the Greek king. The one who, for being deceitful, receives a punishment of rolling up a huge boulder up a hill. He ends up doing this for eternity, as the boulder keeps rolling down a little whenever he pauses to catch his breath.
The point here is exactly the opposite.
In our long haul of life, pauses are actually needed to recalibrate our location and direction.
Worries and Dreads Abound:
Gone are the days, when piles of books on our night stands would induce the terror of not catching up with all the things we wanted to do. Now, we have podcasts we have lined up that are filling up space on our phones. We have messages on Whatsapp and Messenger that are overflowing that we’re unable to respond to. And what about those videos on YouTube that will last us about 64000 years, when watched nonstop??
Some worries are ever more debilitating than these outside notifications. These worries are those that come from within us.
We’re seeing posts from friends and family and wondering to ourselves, are we being outraged enough at what’s happening to our world??!
We’re seeing our children raising themselves. And we’re seeing them educate themselves on one tab, and switch over to entertaining themselves on the next. Devices be damned, we can’t even fight anything anymore, thanks to our distractions and exhaustions.
So how should one live when every moment seems to be bringing in new problems and uncertainties?
Win By Being Not Doing:
Our society celebrates doers. If we’re not constantly doing something, we must be lazy and not motivated enough. But here’s the thing.
Existential boredom is good. It’s good for the soul, because you actually can sort through your thoughts and create priorities. When the brain in under stimulated, the brains looks for stimulation boosting creativity. It enhances problem solving in a myriad of ways. Slowing down helps you check if the route you’re on in life is the one you actually want to be on. Slow down to the pace of nature. Maybe, like floating away on a tube in the river.
Ok, but does that mean we’re passive and lose all the momentum of the regular pace of live because we’re under forced quarantine? Nope, in fact, we can use a stress management tactic to keep ourselves on the path to reskill and upskill and be ready for the time when our lives will be normal once again.
Meditation And Mindfulness:
Meditation, the art of mastering the moment, asks you for practice not perfection. Prime yourself to start your journey on a more centered and mindful life as a busy person. Pause few times a day to acknowledge your present, your truth and your potential.
Meditation is a practice of self-care that is non-negotiable in the age of information overload that we live in. Drop that anchor of thought in the present and experience silence for a few minutes a day.
Mindfulness is associated with eliminating sporadic thoughts that occur that are unrelated to the current task at hand. It is not. In fact, it is simply our ability to decide whether we will nurture that secondary thought or let it go.
Welcome The Unwelcome:
OK, the pandemic is here. We don’t want it, yet, we can’t do much about it. We’re experiencing adversity in the moment. Yes, but, is it in our control? No, so there’s no point dwelling on it. We will just have to try our best to ride the wave.
I don’t mind what happens. That’s my secret. ~ Jiddu Krishna Moorthy
Its important to, once in a while, suspend yourself in the openness between how things happened and how they might unfold in the future. After all, there are so many possibilities in a transition. You’re here now and that’s what matters the most.
Let’s look at the alternative before we fully trust the present moment and its glory. No one has had it all together, its an unrealistic expectation to have. All comfort and security is just as fleeting as the pain and torment of unbearable suffering. Blame, judgement, dissatisfaction don’t give us any power in the face of our belief and hope in a better future.
Make Peace With Adversity:
There’s a saying that even a small cup of water becomes heavy if you keep holding it for a long time. Just as a rock becomes heavy when you pick it up, so do things become unbearable when you start dwelling on them. If your thoughts are marquees running in front of you, they don’t weigh heavily on you.
Put it another way, is to say that having passing thoughts of doom and gloom like a marquee scroll across your mind is OK. But, dwelling on them and making them linger to the point of dread is dangerous.
After all, a wise person once said, “Little in life is of much consequence.”
Burnout, Borders and Delegation:
When we try to keep up with the fast pace of life around us, we often forget our inherent qualities like forgiveness and patience. We also don’t remember our vision, and want we really want for ourselves. Burnout, meltdowns and decision fatigue follow.
To avoid falling for stress, we must simplify radically. Schedule downtime. Put it on your calendar. Give yourself permission to breathe, literally. Close your eyes and just take three breaths intentionally, once every few hours in a day.
Delegate like your life depends on it. Draw a line when it comes to answering emails and texts in the night, create your own digital curfew. Create a border control in your home. There must be some places where there’s no place for devices or distractions. Unbusy ruthlessly. Seek an accountability partner. And hold yourself accountable to them.
There’s no doubt email and our communication tools are a necessity in the modern world. Planning events, coordinating family gatherings, sending a quick note to a loved one who lives far away – the advantages are endless. However, we often forget that no one is tying our productivity to the number of seconds it took us to respond to an “urgent” email or text.
Environments Can Nurture:
Environments can literally mean the difference between flourish or flounder. Irrespective of so many variances real life has, an (almost) ideal environment can be the one stable thing that we and our children should be able to count on.
A safe space for children is where there’s no pressure to fit in from peers, and there are no disappointments to face of their own expectations. It is a place free of the fear of rejection and judgment. A safe space for adults is in their own hearts where there’s no scope for self loathing or doubt.
When we arrive at that compassionate position, our environments can help us relax and fully enjoy the moment. Chaotic and unkempt physical surroundings can create confusion and anxiety. And for those of us who are so action driven and hoggers for productivity, cluttered surroundings can affect our self-worth and our motivation to do well for ourselves.
Plan Your Pause:
We have a choice to hold this moment in delight or dwell in our suffering. There, another moment has just passed us by as we overthink. Let’s begin our journey of unbusyness by holding onto a few minutes of silence. Start your day with these three thoughts.
1. Belief in yourself.
2. Belief in the power of positivity.
3. Radical forgiveness. Let go of judgment towards yourself and others. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Here’s the truth. Life is a tug-o-war between our momentary presence & daily productivity. Every moment is passing by with noise from our inner monologue or the outside world of notifications and chaos. But, here’s a thought that can empower us. We have a choice. We can choose to take a stand for what we want to pay attention to.
And we can find small things that are happening around us and associate joy to them and embrace them fully. We can begin by asking ourselves, “While I’m being present 24/7 for my technology and my work, who else in my life is missing my presence and my undivided attention? How much will I pay for this moment to come back in 20 years? Who needs me the most?”
The answer is a resounding “me” and “those around me who rely on my nurture and care”.
This moment is all you have, make the most of it. It pays to keep reminding ourselves that we can be goal and action oriented while being a stoic. We can have a winner’s mindset while being stoics in our approach.
Start today. Leave a few pockets in the day to just unbusy yourself and breathe.