We often judge our lives by how busy and productive we are on a daily basis. There are jobs to be done, people to serve, reports to write or experiments to be run. We move faster and faster trying to leverage every last second of the day into a result. Then, one day we stop and reflect on what it all means. We have accomplished a great deal and yet may still feel a nagging sense of emptiness or exhaustion. Why?
Could it be that in our manic need to achieve we have forgotten ourselves in the process? Have we been running so fast that we forgotten to stop and and smell the roses along the way? It happens as part of living in our twenty first century world. A world of overload – information, expectation and speed.
Have we internalized the message that we are simply what we do, what we accomplish, or what we own? If so let’s mentally fast forward a few years. When all the doing and owning is achieved what is left? Do we think that simply our hard work and accomplishments will result in ultimate happiness? It takes way more than that to achieve lasting happiness.
Maybe there’s more to the story. Of course, we need to be productive in our lives and pay the bills, put bread on the table so to speak. Accomplishment gets our blood pumping but the challenge – the critical issue seems to be one of learning the importance of balance in our lives. Rarely do our parents – our earliest teachers point out the importance of it. Balance is a concept that is rarely learned early in life. But now is a new day – a chance to develop a healthier sense of self by practicing something that will serve us well for the rest of our lives.
It’s not easy to train ourselves to slow down and breathe deeply to absorb certain moments in our life. At first the practice may even be judged as either unproductive or at least an interruption in our ‘Achievement Schedule.’ Don’t be fooled – you need and even deserve it. The moments, for instance, when we take the time to visit with friends, engage in an activity, observe nature, or simply read a book for pure enjoyment are precisely what gives us greater texture and depth in our lives. We become deeper, more at peace and more gentle with ourselves and others. Life becomes more than simply getting from here to there as we learn to appreciate the moments, the stops or even detours along the way. We start to realize that we are more than simply the sum of our parts when we take time to step off the never ending treadmill of doing and move, even momentarily, into a place of pure being through reflection.
I’m not talking about taking an inordinate amount of time out of your daily schedule. Over the next few days try taking 10 or 15 minutes just for you. Inhale deeply and observe something about yourself or others more fully. Listen to your thoughts – really listen. What do you see or feel differently about after this short respite? What ‘Aha’ did you discover in the process? You have worked hard, achieved much, and helped a great deal. Now it’s time to give to yourself. The sooner you start this practice of daily reflection the happier and more balanced your life will become.
Have a great few days!