I sometimes wish I could be more like my dog.
My dog can do nothing and not feel a smidge of guilt about it. When my dog does nothing, which is probably a good 85-90% of his day, it is all that he does.
Zero. Nada. Zippo.
My precious pooch isn’t lying around feeling guilty that he should pick up all the toys he has strewn around the house. He isn’t obsessing over when his Daddy is going to take him for his next walk. He isn’t worried about how many holes he has dug in the backyard and whether we are going to discover them.
For him, there is only the blissful joy that comes from being firmly ingrained in the moment. He is mindful, not mind full.
And I’m totally jealous.
I am more mind full than mindful. I find it extremely difficult to do nothing and not feel guilty about it.
This past Saturday is a prime example. My mind and body needed me to just go with the flow of doing nothing, which for me means reading, a nana nap, watching re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy and the odd moment of staring blankly ahead while I completely zone out.
It proved easier said than done; I opened up the ‘I feel guilty’ box.
I was thinking about all the things, the far more productive and oh-so-important things, I could and should be doing with my time. Like blogging. Studying. Recipe creating. Doing my taxes.
Rest, relax and heal thy body wasn’t making the list. I had a serious case of the ‘I should’ syndrome: ‘I should’ do everything other than rest, relax and heal thy body; ‘I should’ do everything other than what I actually want to do (nothing!) and what is good for me to do (rest and relax). My little ‘should monster’ was in full swing. He (naturally he is male!) opened up my ‘I feel guilty’ box and was yodelling at full volume.
My internal dialogue went something like this:
I should really go and write that blog post for elephant journal.
I tried. Briefly. It was 5 minutes of staring at a blank computer screen. Sorry elephant!
I should go and study.
My butt stayed glued to the couch and I surfed social media.
I should set up the next month’s bills for payment. What about the insurance claim? Did Hubby arrange for the cars to be serviced? Crap I better ask him!
And on it went.
The only thing that didn’t make the ‘I should’ list was “I should do nothing and I won’t feel guilty about it!”
So really, what’s with all the guilt? Why do we feel less worthy if we sit around and do nothing all day?
We know that we need to relax. But we lead crazy, busy lives and are constantly fed messages that we should always do more, be more productive.
There are relaxation guilt triggers all around us (like social media), not just within us, if we choose to tune into them. The end result is that many of us feel we can’t laze around without the nagging feeling that we should be getting stuff done and crossing off items from our never-ending ‘To Do’ lists.
When are we going to truly believe that me time, downtime, however we want to coin the phrase, is not selfish?
That it is actually one of the best investments we can make in our long-term health and happiness.
Taking a break from our busy lives to focus on ourselves, to just be, shouldn’t harbour these feelings of guilt that so many of us experience.
There is one profound question one cannot help but to ask: Why do I feel guilty for taking time out to focus on me?
I often feel I can’t afford to take time off because there are so many other productive things I should be doing with my time. Other people may associate busyness with importance, making it hard to embrace anything less. The reason(s) are entirely personal.
But consider this for a minute: Is [insert whatever it is that is causing the guilts and encroaching on your nothing zone] so pressing that it absolutely must be done right now, or can it wait a few hours, a few days or even a few weeks?
By really examining our motives behind the ‘must-do-it-now’ mentality, we can often dispel the mind games that prop our guilt box open, give the little ‘should monster’ a voice and keep us from surrendering to the here and now.
Changing such an ingrained habit will have its challenges, but I’m confident that, with a little persistence and a gentle mind shift, the process will get easier with time—So that I can do nothing with guilt-free, joyful abandon.
Be more mindful, not mind full.
Just like my dog.
Now I want to hear from you! How do you ‘do nothing’ without inducing an attack of the guilts? Comment below!
Author: Bree Hogan
Editor: Caroline Beaton