Feel all the time in a rush? Stressful being late to pick up kids while stuck in traffic? The weekends restless running between grocery shopping, driving kids to sports, cooking, and housework? You are definitely among millions.
Our society has conditioned us since we are kids, that doing nothing is not good, if not “evil”! Hard work and effort seem to be a norm for “good and successful people”.
Afraid of stopping?
When I stopped working I was afraid of having less success. For years, I was trying my best to perform higher than the expectations. Working in the evening to prepare for a workshop in two days? Scheduled back to back meetings for the whole week? Everyone seems to do it!
Even on Sundays, our household planning was full of sightseeing and activities for kids. It seemed that if we didn’t do anything, the whole family would feel an “emptiness”!
You might relate to some of the above. Yes, it seems that the “work/rest” balance has been largely lost in our society. Many of us are caught into the endless modern life rhythm.
Life and work have been optimized in such a way that we fall into burnout, in the midst of unsolved fatigue and chronic stress.
We are not “lazy” enough!
If you are struggling with burnout, like me, maybe you are not “lazy” enough!
Indeed, a lazy person can be a hard worker. But the work should be a follow of impulse, than an obligation. It should be an expression of his or her being.
Work should be undertaken out of choice, and relieved with rest and relaxation.
Think about your job today. If on a beautiful Monday, suddenly you feel tired or not inspired, will you call your boss to say you’re staying at home for good?
I am afraid that it might not the way you will earn your end of the month!
However, happiness does seem to go with the possibility to work when you want. And rest when you want!
Joseph Emet, in his book “Finding the blue sky” wrote that “who are ‘constitutionally’ happy instinctively make room for both. The rest of us need to learn to do this if we are not going to join the legions who suffer from exhaustion and burnout”.
You will say, and I got it, that the way our society is organized today does not seem to allow this.
How about a “lazy day” per week?
I went to a retreat with the Plum Village in 2018. It’s a meditation retreat founded by Thich Nhat Hanh. His works were for me a never-ending inspiring source of self-healing and profound energy.
He made born a great concept: The “Lazy day”. “A Lazy Day is a day for us to be truly with the day without any scheduled activities. We just let the day unfold naturally, timelessly” (Plum Village)
Thich Nhat Hanh writes: “When we lose ourselves in activities we diminish our quality of being. We do ourselves a disservice. It’s important to preserve ourselves, to maintain our freshness and good humour, our joy, and compassion.”
In a retreat, definitely it is easier to be “lazy”. Back to our real world, it is harder. We all get caught by our responsibility. But “difficult”does not mean “impossible”.
What I did was to define a day of the week, where I tried my best to be “lazy”, to “be” than to “do”.
From “doing” to “being”
On “lazy day”, you might not schedule activities. Instead, take all the time to mindfully prepare a breakfast. Take time to eat also mindfully and with gratitude. Help your kids do the same. Ensure you have a space of quiet time to accomplish some meditation or a meditative walk to be in touch with your being.
If you need to do some grocery shopping, do it in a relaxing way in an open-air market nearby by bicycle for example. Find out the way to make it the most relaxing possible. Give yourself the ability to take a break.
Don’t lose hope: I can work when I want!
Yes, and on a Monday, or a Tuesday, or whatever day, I want to work only when I feel joy and enthusiasm.
Does it sound a dream? Certainly, in traditional business. But not anymore in the digital economy. With online business for example, everyone can work from every where, when he or she wants.
The society and economy are changing fast. I truly believe one day everyone will be able to work only when they want, and with true passions. As said Thich Nhat Hanh, we can this way “maintain our freshness and good humour, our joy and compassion”.
So yes, as a burnout generation, you and me have never had it so hard to rest, to stop, and to be “lazy”. Don’t wait, fix a lazy day per week and try it out! And remember to follow it through!