As a child, I never liked naps. I just knew I would miss something exciting. My life has been filled with a privileged array of arts and cultural, leisure and sporting, education and adventures activities. My challenge has been determining when “enough was enough.”
During a recent stay in Crestone, CO, the phrase “Do less. Be More” kept running through my head. A week earlier a friend had confided, “I already have more friends than I have time for.” As lovely as that is, her statement illustrates how easy it can be to fill our days.
Two years ago, a mysterious “health hiccup” stopped me in my tracks. I went from having an inscrutable to-do list to a nearly blank page. I allowed myself one – just one – activity a day that was outside what many refer to the “activities of daily living.” A bike ride, perhaps, or coffee or a walk with a friend. No big gatherings. What I noticed is that I chose “active” endeavors that involved my direct participation over passive things like watching a YouTube video or attending a sporting event or concert.
To enhance my health, it was suggested that I limit my “screen time.” I was never really ruled by my phone or laptop, however, becoming even more intentional with the use of these devices helped me understand how easily I can be sucked in. Some days I do a fantastic job of checking email, social media and voicemail only in the morning, at lunch and in the evening. Some Sundays I am successful in my resolve to avoid email and social media altogether. And, other days, especially when I’m away from “my people,” I notice how tempting it is for me to hop online.
A few of the things I’ve been learning during these two years of experimentation are:
- to listen closely to my body, mind, Spirit and emotions,
- to honor my preference for small gatherings in natural settings,
- to say “no” more gracefully, authentically, and without guilt,
- to pursue MY interests and passions first,
- to enjoy the fullness of spacious periods of quiet and solitude.
I’m up to a maximum of three activities a day outside the “daily living” category. I’ve found it helps to have a specific number of activities so that I have to consciously choose which two or three activities I’ll engage in on a given day. My current “less crowded life” feels fuller and more satisfying than my past life of “the dizzying pace.” I also sense my lifestyle is not only better for me, it’s better for the planet, too.
A “health hiccup” isn’t required to slow down and notice what truly matters to you in this moment. Does creating more spaciousness in your life appeal to you? When you sit quietly or walk in nature, do any messages “come” to you? Do you feel called to heed any of these messages right now? How might you adapt your life in small or large ways just to see what happens? What might you discover through your experiments?