What consumes your mind, controls your life. – Anonymous
I recently heard a interesting saying; “Rest is the new hustle.” This really got me thinking and I began to investigate this trend a little closer. It would seem that there are groups of people among us who have decided that the traditional work-until-your-health-gives-in-and-then-spend-all-the-money-you-worked-for-to-get-your-health-and-happiness-back approach is perhaps…after all…not the best we can do. They have begun to advocate for balance…balance between the grind, the ambition, the drive; and rest, health of mind and body, practicing gratitude and peace. I like this idea. It is however, far easier said than done. You see, as we all know, to survive in today’s society which is defined by hard work, and then even harder work, and burnout and health complaints and more…more…more-type thinking, finding balance between health, rest and peace, and then ambition, is very difficult, let’s face it. I know that even in my own life, this has been challenging and I had, like many people, sacrificed my health for my career, carried on working instead of resting my mind…this is how it is done, right? Maybe not. As people we must start asking ourselves whether it is not possible to find a little more balance. I mean surely there is a reason why the air-hostess specifically instructs you that in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, it is imperative that you place the oxygen-mask on yourself first before assisting your children or fellow passengers…I wonder why she’s so adamant on this point…oh yes…because otherwise you will suffocate, and be of very little use to anyone! So why do we not adopt this approach in our everyday lives? Is taking care of ourselves only important in the event of something a little serious, like say…AN AIRPLANE EMERGENCY!? I have begun to think that this is silly. So why do we not try harder to find balance between work, caring for others; and ourselves and our own needs? Ah yes…there is the beautiful lesson that we are taught from when we are young…to outright express what you need, to take a day or 5 to rest so that you do not burn out both mentally and physically, to say no to that party because you would rather sit in your pajamas and watch a movie, or enjoy your favorite sport…that is not only lazy, that is selfish…don’t you know? To this I say “balderdash”! People who strive to find this balance, and learn to express their needs, and realize that they are deserving of all the happiness and rest and pleasure that this life has to offer…those are the people who are happier, far calmer, and more well balanced than most. They are the one’s who realize that not putting on the oxygen-mask actually means that they would be depriving others of any assistance they can provide, for the simple reason that they would be too burnt out to even get out of bed. These are the people you see practicing gratitude (Oh, in case you thought this was some sort of new-aged-mambo-jumbo…studies show that people who practice gratitude and mindfulness are happier, and more at peace in their lives overall). These are the people you see with mala beads around their necks, practicing being mindful and taking time to care for their bodies and minds. They are also the people you hear about who are able to get up at dawn without feeling like they have been hit by a train; the people who take photo’s of the sunrise while doing yoga, and afterwards Instagram pictures of their Acai smoothie bowls before heading off to work a full day, and then cooking a healthy meal for their family before heading off to bed…you know…the ones we always refer to as “those” people. To be honest, I think “these” people are on to something. It seems that they have been tapping into some ancient life-force that is taught in all the ancient scriptures, and it seems that this life-force or abundance of health and energy is available to anyone who chooses to find it in balance. Of course, the curious mind I have always had decided give this “mambo-jumbo” a try, and for the past couple of months had I drastically changed my diet to a far healthier version of its former self, I had begun to seriously focus on meditation, I practice yoga and mindfulness in my daily life, I listen to my body and my mind and I rest when I am tired, while reminding myself that I am worthy and deserving of it…I even have a gratitude jar and mala beads to help make it easier! In honesty, it is hard to be in the midst of noise and hard work and still be calm in your heart. It takes practice, and there are days that are easy and days that more difficult than necessary, but it is the knowledge that all of it is okay. That you are learning to find balance and you are better for it by just trying. It is also important to remember that change never happens over-night, it is not a process of removing everything, but rather adding things to your life that you enjoy and that bring you balance and happiness, while always trying remind yourself that you are absolutely deserving of that oxygen-mask…you know, for any time the guilt pops up to say hello. I know, buying into the “taking-care-of-yourself” concept is difficult. It means making an argument against everything we have been taught about life and hard work…but then again, it was after all a semi-famous man called Albert Einstein who made the statement: “Insanity is defined by doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” So…for those of you willing to try a different way…here’s to you and your oxygen-mask!
P.s. Should you wish to try a balance-finding experience, may I suggest the happiness jar? Find a jar around the house, or go out and get something special that will be your happiness jar. At the end of each day, find 5 minutes of quiet time…while your partner is in the shower and the kids are safely tucked in bed. During this time try to reflect on one thing (if you can think of more, good on you!) that made you feel happy in that day, then write it down. (Any type of paper will do, even the back of last week’s grocery list if that’s what you have around you). There are no rules. What is the point of this exercise you ask? Well…it teaches you to be in the moment, thereby introducing you to the practice of mindfulness (which b.t.w is a form of meditation…look at you go!). It shows you what it feels like to practice gratitude, and it helps us to see that even in the midst of chaos and struggle, there are always moments of light…Happy jarring to you then!