Beauty in Stillness
When I was a kid, my parents enrolled me into sports year-round. In the fall I was playing soccer, winter basketball, spring was baseball and soccer, and in the summer I went to soccer camps.
There was a method to this madness. Truth is, I was a pretty mischievous kid and easily found trouble if my time wasn’t filled (even with all these sports, I still managed to drive my parents crazy 😆).
The sports let me spend my energy productively, and aside from filling my time, I learned about setting goals, how to deal with disappointment, discipline, how to get along with others, how to show respect, and how to follow directions.
I took this same “be busy” attitude into my teenage years and early adulthood. It served me well. But it wasn’t until I was a little older, wiser maybe, that I started to reflect upon this “fill my time” culture and realized that, despite its upsides, it has some pretty troubling downsides as well.
Doing nothing and just “being” is a valid, arguably more productive use of time.
Perhaps it’s an American thing, or a Western Culture concept, but it seems like we dislike “idle time”. We fill it with tasks, activities, apps, and projects.
There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. Everyone needs something to keep them mentally sharp. But what about those times in your life when you don’t have anything planned?
Instead of filling that time, or stressing about an expectation to do something, what if you left that time empty instead, giving yourself permission to not do anything?
I have learned to do this over the past few months, and while it’s not always easy, I think it has been a net positive for my mental well-being. When I am not thinking about “future land”, I am forced to live in the present. I have the opportunity to appreciate the ones I am with, and to fully capture the little moments. I am fully appreciating the gift of time.
Don’t make plans for just one day.
Have you ever tried not to plan out a day and then to live that day with a present mindset? It’s harder than you think!
Look, I get it, planning our days and weeks makes us feel like we are productive, and feeling productive makes us feel good. I’m not implying that being busy is a bad way to live your life. However, it just can’t be the only way to live.
You may find something else difficult about not making plans for one day: it won’t stop other people from trying to fill your day with plans! This can actually be a little overwhelming, but remember that you are in control of your time. Put up a boundary and stick to it.
Live in the current moment with your “no plan” day. If you’re tired, take a nap. If you’re bored, read a book for a bit. Go for a walk. Get a little exercise if you feel up for it. Finally, spend some time just sitting. Reflect and/or meditate. Just be at peace.
You don’t have to be alone during this time. Enjoy the company of others. Have a meal with friends or family. Play with your kids. Embrace the beauty of living with intention and in the moment.
Most importantly: don’t stress about the future because that isn’t guaranteed anyhow. And don’t dwell on the past because what’s done is done.
Just be present and grateful for the time that you have. You will find that without all of that extra weight on your mind, you will have more energy when you return to your planning ways!
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