Sunday, February 22, 2015

why don't we relax?

It seems to me that we live in a world that celebrates DOING. "What do you DO for a living?" or "What did you DO today?" or "Whatcha DOIN'?" or "What are you DOING tonight?" The assumption is that you must be DOING something, and the asker wonders if you could fit in another thing to do, in the middle or whatever else you're doing. Yikes!

How did we get to this place where WHAT WE DO is more important than WHO WE ARE? Truthfully there is a part of the that wants to write my dissertation on this topic. Certainly the industrial age helped promote the "work ethic"; but that's more about working well, rather than working all the time. However this is not the place to begin my dissertation. Instead, I want to focus on what relaxing has done for me personally. I like this quote:

Oh, I hate those words "should," "ought to," "must." I went to a seminar once where the speaker encouraged us not to "SHOULD" on ourselves! When the rubber hits the road (like when pain derailed my "doing"), it surprised me how few of the "should" I actually had to do. If I didn't do them, and they didn't get done, the world didn't end. It was fine. How much do we force ourselves to do more, when it's truly not necessary?

It took a great change of perspective for me to switch from being proud of my accomplishments to being proud of myself. Part of this came from my experiences in my former home church. The Pastor there would consistently praise those people who were "at the church every time the doors were open." The message I got was that I was worthy of praise if I came to the church building all the time. For a short time, I considered working there - for surely, those folks would be worthy of praise. As our congregation grew, and our activities expanded, pretty soon the church was open all the time. And then I began to realize that it was impossible to meet the standard of attending "every time the doors were open." This is not a criticism of my church, but of myself: to realize that I am worthy, whether I show up to the church once a week, twice, 4 times, 6 times... the number isn't important. What's important is that I AM a part of the church.

At my work, more and more time was required of me to earn the same salary. We talked about "work-life balance" but the reality was that work intruded into my personal life. I wanted to be a good employee, and that often required working at home at night and on the weekend. But, I lost the balance where I could just stop working and BE.

So, in the next few blogs I'm going to explore ways and ideas about relaxing that may be new to you. They were certainly new to me just a few short years ago. I've lived most of my life believing that my WORK was what earned me praise, my ACCOMPLISHMENTS made me a good person, my CONTRIBUTIONS showed the real me. Nonsense! Who I AM is the real me, regardless of WHAT I DO.

Now, certainly, out of our hearts come our words, deeds, and actions. So the external stuff we DO does reflect a part of who we are. But, for me, I had to separate the two ideas so that I could turn off the DOING in order to learn to just BE. Just BE. Just BE. Ahhh......

Look at the table below. Which person would you rather be?
It seems to me that the best of both worlds can exist when we both BE and DO. I think Americans in general are very good at DOING, but not so great at BEING. Let's work on both!

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