Written by Pamela Tudor
We have worked hard all our lives, and now our retirements are threatened. Our investments are not what they should be, our job situations are shakier, our kids might be unemployed and need financial help. So what do we do? Work harder. Work longer. Worry more. Beat up on ourselves with shoulda’s coulda’s woulda’s.
How can we get out of the rut of more, harder, don’t stop, don’t let up? This is a hard habit to break; many of us have lived by these ‘rules’ for much of our lives. And this behavior is probably rooted in the legacy of the Puritans, who suffused American thought and behaviors with a credo of never stop working or you won’t get to heaven, and daily self-criticism about the sin of “laziness”. This ‘sin’ by the way, was committed by extremely hard working people.
I share with you one of my favorite quotes:
Worrying does not empty Tomorrow of its Trouble
It empties Today of its Strength
In the 21st century we know a lot more about human productivity and creativity. We know that people need down time, and internal “space”, in order to be at our best. Overworked, overstressed brains are not the ones making the best decisions. Activity doesn’t always correlate with good results. It’s an illusion that gives one a fleeting sense of accomplishing something. But is that something worth it? What are the results?
Ask yourself if your greatest productivity and creativity come from a stressed mind? Or one that keeps doing, doing, doing? Will taking a pause be that critical hour you missed for your breakthrough? More likely, taking a pause will refresh your psyche, and open up new horizons. Unless that pause is used for worrying and self-flagellation!
Let’s learn from the mistakes of the Puritans. Being kind to yourself not only is healthier in the largest sense, it sets a good example for your children and your co-workers. Take a pause, take a lunchtime yoga class, take a walk outside to watch the breeze in the trees. See what differences that makes over time.
Try this exercise for the next month:
Take lunch away from your desk every day. Take a walk during the lunch hour. Get near trees and flowers or a body of water if you can. See the effect it has on you.
Go home at a reasonable hour. Have dinner with your family or friends. Spend more time with the people you love during the work week.
Remember no one ever put on their epitaph “I wished I worked even more hours and was harder on myself”.
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