Doing less does not mean being lazy, being a schlub, not being a contributing member of society, or living a small life.
I have a hypothesis. It came to me about 6 months ago. I’m now in the process of gathering evidence to support it, doing experiments in my own life to see if it’s true.
Here it is:
This is not a conversation about balance sheets and bottom lines. This is a conversation about living a life of depth and breadth. This is not about making more money or getting more done. This is about homing in on what’s important. This is about making space for the unexpected. This is about actually being here for your life.
This is about making a life, not just a living.
Today it is time to explore what doing less actually looks (and feels) like.
True confession: the idea of being still makes me twitch. But when I’m willing to be still in spite of the twitching, I hear things and feel things that I couldn’t hear or feel if I were constantly doing.
True confession number two: I’m quite remedial at this.
I’m sharing my process around this with you, though, because a) that’s just how I roll (thank you, Gemini moon – must communicate everything!) and b) I know I’m not the only person who wants to grow in the area of doing less and being more.
I’ve made a list of the ways I’m doing less these days. I’d love to hear your specific examples in the comments below.
It feels a bit ridiculous to need to make a list of ways to do less. But I’m a beginner at this. So I made a list. I’m posting this one up in my office to remind me to step away frequently. Perhaps you’d like to do the same.
Sitting with uncomfortable feelings: When I notice I’m feeling sad, angry, confused, depressed, irritated, anxious, or anything else uncomfortable, I practice sitting and feeling instead of doing something to distract myself. What does this actually mean? It means sitting down, closing my eyes, breathing into the feeling, and becoming curious about what that feeling actually feels like. Where do I feel it in my body? What is the sensation exactly? What message does it have for me? (Thank you, Barbara Stanny, for this exercise.)
Staring out the window: This one is pretty much what it sounds like. I take a break from what I’m doing and stare out the window for a while without doing anything else.
Drinking a cup of tea without doing anything else: I’ve recently switched from coffee to hot water with lemon and cayenne in the morning. (I still really miss coffee. I may go back. Not sure yet.) Some days I see what it feels like to sit and slowly drink the whole cup without reading, checking my phone, or doing anything else.
Simply sitting while waiting for appointments or for people to arrive: Instead of pulling out my phone or catching up on Star Tracks in People magazine, I’ve been exploring what it’s like to simply sit and wait in waiting rooms. Waiting rooms are for waiting. I’ve gotten curious about what waiting feels like.
Putting the phone on airplane mode: I try to put my phone on airplane mode by 9 pm and not take it off until 10 am or after. Some days this happens, some days it doesn’t. But I love the space it creates when it does happen. Some days I completely forget to turn it back into communication mode until lunch time or later. I remind myself that there are no blogger or vitamin emergencies and no one really needs to get ahold of me in real time.
Deciding not to rush: This requires resetting my habits and leaving earlier than I think I need to. Allowing myself more time than I think I’ll need to arrive somewhere or do a task feels really loving and spacious. To someone who’s been chronically five minutes late in the past, this one is a habit that’s tough to break—but worth it. Ask yourself: what payoff am I getting from rushing? Often we find we’re addicted to the rushing because it helps us avoid actually being with ourselves in the spaciousness of enough time.
Asking myself: Does this really need to be done? Does it need to be done by me? Whenever something comes across my plate, I use these questions. If the answer is no and no, I pass.
Your life will be lived more in the spaces between doing. Create more of those spaces and you’ll have more life to live.
What are your specific ways of doing less? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!
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