Photo Credit: Sascha Kohlmann
“Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.” – Abraham H. Maslow
In thinking about what it means to slow down and be lazy in the long summer days, I wanted to make a case for inspiring people to get motivated, overcoming procrastination, taking action to create a better life and getting started NOW. One of the reasons people hire a Life Coach is to hold them accountable to take concrete action-oriented steps to move towards their goals and dreams. In a fast-paced, achievement-driven society, the people who get ahead are those who are diligent, hard working and energetic; not those who are idle, sluggish, slothful or resistant to exertion.
Yet, in all of the daily frenzy of a modern life, people are not only mentally unfocused and physically exhausted, but also have forgotten why they are doing so much running around in the first place. People spend a good deal of time doing, and very little time relaxing, stopping or simply being. I believe that in order to be truly happy and successful, you must learn to unplug and create a more rhythmic life that balances work with resting the body, mind and spirit.
Sounds simple, yet, how do you really reduce your speed? First, be aware of the signs indicating a respite is needed. Recurring or obsessive thoughts, being stuck on a problem that’s not getting resolved, experiencing creative blocks, scheduling or planning every moment, lacking in joy, getting physically sick or run down, or feeling depressed and lethargic are all indicators that you need to slow down. Second, be aware of the reasons keeping you from taking time off. Get rid of the silly excuses and make a choice to take care of yourself first. And finally, replace old patterns with new ways of unplugging. Since everyone needs something different, listed below are some specific suggestions.
Ways to Unplug and Be Lazy:
Work Take a break from your desk and/or telephone and be “unreachable” for 15 minutes. Walk outside, read something for fun, or go to a coffee shop. If you don’t already do this, go out for lunch. Leave your office messy (on occasion.) And, use all of your vacation time, even if you stay home and do nothing.
Money Give yourself a break from constantly watching the stock market or your bank account balances. Create a reserve, and set aside “fun” money. If you do the bill paying, ask your spouse to do it or hire an assistant.
Body Wellness Make your movements slow and deliberate; saunter instead of rushing. Choose slower activities such as yoga or walking. Engage in nurturing activities such as baths or massages. Eat in silence and savor every bite. Turn off the alarm clock, especially on the weekends.
Friends & Family Take time off from being the planner, organizer or hostess by allowing others to take the lead. Set boundaries, when needed. Schedule a “Pajama Day” with the family. Imitate your children’s playful patterns.
Romantic Partners Let go of old resentments and bad habits. Take a break from “nit-picking” and overlook your mate’s shortcomings, even if it’s just for a day. Make a date by staying in and inviting your partner to be lazy with you.
Spiritual Growth Cultivate an inner laziness to create peace and calm. Stop fretting and worrying. Let yourself fall asleep when you pray or meditate. Enact the Sabbath as a day of rest. Trust God or your Higher Power. Be comfortable with and ask for alone time. Journal. Be in the moment. Daydream.
Playtime Plan nothing and see what you feel like doing; follow your energy. Choose low-maintenance playmates. Select activities that require you to slow down: float in a pool, take a blanket to the park, lie in a hammock, spend time in nature, get lost in a romantic novel, watch movies in bed, play board games, read poetry or listen to music.
Home Take a day off from chores and let your house get messy for a few days. Hire a housekeeper. Simplify, de-clutter and create comfortable places to relax in your home. Create technology-free zones.
In his book Sabbath, Wayne Muller writes, “Sabbath is a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity.” By being lazy, you can get re-energized for the necessary work and create space to honor a period of rest that will restore you to your essential greatness.
An Exercise that Gives You Permission to Halt:
1. From the above list, choose three areas to renew yourself. Determine your easiest ways to rest and rejuvenate.
2. Schedule relaxed, carefree, lazy and unstructured time off. When will you take a break… today? This week? This month?
3. Decide if you will slow down with or without another person. Who will be lazy with you?
4. Make a written commitment to yourself to be lazy.
Ready to start living an amazingly authentic life?
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