Lin Yutang states, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the nobler art of leaving things undone…The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.”
Zen and Taoist belief systems suggest that doing nothing may be a sign of wisdom, the highest good. The aim is to be in the present moment and fully aware. But, we humans (I think women; moms especially), often tend to feel guilt and shame if we aren’t behaving like a person with super powers 100% of the time. Sure, we can all live with the attitude that we are Superwomen and men, because we are powerful beings, but for goodness sakes, we have to stop putting ridiculous demands of perfection on ourselves and others!
Let’s stop and ask ourselves questions such as, “What’s wrong with being a ‘flaneur’ (an idler or lounger)?”, “Why must I always move at the pace of competitive walker; why can’t or why shouldn’t I practice ambling now and then?”
When you are stuck in traffic, instead of complaining and feeling agitated, try shifting your perspective and think of it as a time out. Use it as a time when you can completely focus on song lyrics or melodies, when you can make mental lists of the movies you wish to see, the books you want to read or restaurants you want to visit. Use it as time to take a mental vacation to the beach or cabin in the woods. If you can’t physically hurry, why should you mentally hurry?
Begin to carry a smooth stone or small wooden cross. Place several around you—your pocket, your car, your desk, your kitchen or bedroom. Pick it up, touch it, caress it letting the calming motion relax you and pass your worries onto that object rather than fill your mind and heart with extra baggage and burdens.
Remove yourself purposely from the noise and chaos of work and home. Learn to love the silence and solitude now and then. It’s here where we uncover our strengths and create our visions. It’s in silence that we refresh our minds and souls, where we reduce our anger, where we ease anxieties, reduce stress and remove distractions. It’s here we find our peace.
Remove immediacy from your life. There is no need to check the phone every 5 minutes in most cases (in fact, put all devices in a drawer or turn them off for 30-60 minutes daily). There is no need to do the laundry, fold or iron the clothes specifically between 8 a.m. and noon every Saturday. There is no need to get the mail the minute the mail person drops it in the box (unless you are expecting a large check). There is no need to fill up every silence with nonsense words. Allow yourself time to be at work at few minutes early then spend 3-4 minutes sitting with your eyes closed or look out your window and take in nature. The mind will be relaxed and be ready to focus and turn out a kickass day!
Let the person cut in front of you in line or on the highway without getting angry. In the big scheme of life, is our resentment going to change anything? Probably not. So simply smile and say a little prayer for the person in a rush. Perhaps they got word that someone they love is in hospital, perhaps a child is sick or injured at school, perhaps they are about to give the biggest presentation of their career and had a flat tire or spilled their coffee on their best suit or dress. Our prayers or good vibes are going to assist humanity more so than our resentment over such a small thing.
Remember that “No.” is a complete sentence. If you don’t want to help or are already committed to other organizations or tasks, it’s okay to say no without further explanation and there is nothing about which to feel guilty.
Take a nap! Leave your work area during lunch! Write a real letter rather than an impersonal email. Practice meaningful procrastination.
There is nothing wrong with goofing off on a Tuesday at 4:00 pm. Why wait till the weekend to have all the fun? Oh wait, we don’t always allow time for fun because we have household chores to do! Seriously, is the pile of laundry going to turn into a monster and tease, taunt and haunt you if you put it off a day or two? Go to happy hour, hit the gym earlier, go see a movie, dance and sing in the car or pull out the hairbrush microphone and go crazy in your room like you did as a teenager.
Are you seeing the pattern? We lose the nonessential stress, anger, frustration, agitation, complaining, immediacy, chaos, noise and clutter and we gain time, relaxing moments, laughter, compassion, new ideas, inspiration, more sleep, more fun with family, friends or even by ourselves, and, most importantly, inner peace.
Consider making your 2018 the year you gain new perspective, vision and sense of calm. Don’t go through another day or year focusing on the nonessentials and call it living. No one on their death bed will ever wish that they had finished the laundry by noon on Saturday, May 19, 2018.
Peace, love & light,