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­­­The Big, Scary Thing I Do Every Week

photo: Erik Abderhalden on flickr

photo: Erik Abderhalden on flickr

What’s the scariest thing you have to do?

Ask your boss for a raise? Clean your fridge?

Or how about speaking in public?! That’s always a popular option.

There are plenty of things that scare me, but there’s one activity I find particularly frightening. So much so, I tend to avoid it at all costs.

Check it out:

A while back, I wrote a blog post called Why Grown-Ups Need Time-Outs Too. The post was about the importance of taking quiet time in our hectic lives.

photo: Marko Javorac on flickr

photo: Marko Javorac on flickr

When I wrote my Time-Out post, I made a vow to start taking one afternoon a week off.

I am proud to say I kept that vow. Not only that, I topped it! I am now taking a whole day a week off.

What a concept.

I have to say, I’ve never done such a thing before. Oh sure, I would slip in some chill time every now and then. Or I’d get sick. That was how I usually managed to get some down time.

photo: Lindsey Turner on flickr

photo: Lindsey Turner on flickr

But I didn’t want to do that anymore.

The whole point of taking a day off was so I didn’t have to get sick in order to relax. And it’s been working out great.

There’s just one little problem.

I hate doing nothing.

I know, it’s sounds weird. And I know there are probably some of you out there who adore the act of sitting and staring into space.

I admire you. I hope to be like you when I grow up.

But I’m not there yet.

It’s not like I spend my whole day off doing nothing. My rules for my time off are that I get to do whatever I want. Usually, this means a lot of reading. And watching my favorite movies or TV shows. As I said in my first post, I’m an introvert, and my day off is a time for serious, introverted refueling.

But I also know it’s important to spend some time doing absolutely nothing.

photo: Dawn Huczek on flickr

photo: Dawn Huczek on flickr

The other six days of my week are filled with activity. Granted, it’s all activity I love, but it’s still act-ivity. Like, active. In the mode of do-ing.

Because of this, I’m finding it’s important to carve out space to simply be.

When I first started this blog, I wrote a post about the importance of doing nothing. I talked about how I struggle with this idea, how I resist this simple act.

That’s still true.

But now I have a designated time, every week, when I’m challenging myself to do just that.

It’s big, and it’s scary. But the rewards, so far, are enormous.

When I first started taking a whole day a week off, I found myself getting depressed. After all, what did I have to show for myself after a day off?

Nothing.

It made me realize that my self-esteem is based on what I accomplish.

photo: terren in Virginia on flickr

photo: terren in Virginia on flickr

Stepping off the doing track, even one day a week, forced me to find a source of self-esteem that’s not based in doing.

But the longer I do it, the easier it gets.

I’m finding that when I finish my day off and go back to doing, I feel a sense of spaciousness. As if my being is sneaking into my doing, making my doing more fun.

The part of me that can simply be knows that I’m okay even if I’m doing nothing. When I bring that consciousness to my doing, it paradoxically makes doing that much more fulfilling.

I’m finding that I still love getting things done, but the compulsion to do isn’t as strong. Given that I’m starting to unhitch my self-esteem from my doing, this makes sense.

But still I resist.

My days off are a luxurious retreat, spent lounging and reading and relaxing. I don’t even brush my teeth in the morning! (Though I do brush them at night. I have my limits.)

photo: Tamaki Sono on flickr

photo: Tamaki Sono on flickr

Yet even in the middle of this chillaxin’ paradise, I still resist the part of the day where I challenge myself to do nothing. Just sit. And breathe.

And I’m not talking about meditating. Meditation is structured, doing-oriented being time. I’m talking about doing nothing.

Yes, my life feels more spacious and fulfilling after my nothing time, but it’s still hard to commit to nothing.

So that’s where I am today.

I’ve made progress from one afternoon off to a whole day off. I’m appreciating being as well as doing. And I still struggle with the being.

It’s all part of the journey. And I’m happy to share it with you.

photo: Brett Jordan on flickr

photo: Brett Jordan on flickr

What’s your doing/being ratio? How do you chill out?

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27 Responses to ­­­The Big, Scary Thing I Do Every Week

  1. Barbara Clark February 19, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Really enjoyed reading this (and all your articles), as it has always been a challenge for me to do nothing. Yesterday I didn’t brush my teeth until 3pm!!!! Loved the way you put it “life feels so spacious and fulfilling after my nothing time”.

    • Z Egloff February 19, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      Hi Barbara,

      Congrats on the delayed teeth brushing!! :) And I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.

      The sense of spaciousness can be good to remember when there’s a resistence to doing nothing. It’s the “payback,” as it were. Though I, too, continue to resist. . . .

      XOZ

  2. Christopher February 19, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Not so scarey…a half hour…an hour? Fine. But a day is big… ohh my. Can I read a book?

    • Z Egloff February 19, 2013 at 10:18 am #

      Hello Christopher!

      Let me clarify: I have yet to try a whole day of just Being. At this point, I am only allowing myself portions of my day off to attempt such a feat. But you’ve got me thinking: a whole day of nothing! Now I think I have to try it. Indeed, I sense another post coming! Though – it sounds scary! We’ll see. . . .

      XOZ

  3. Jo Lauer February 19, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    The closer I come to retirement, the more this becomes an issue for me. Sure, I can get through a weekend–sort of–with no plans. But I’m always glad when Monday comes around and I know what I’m going to be doing. Get that? Be-Doing. I seem to need a combination of both.

    Just be-ing? Yikes. Keep the posts coming. You have four more years (like Obama) to convince me that it’s do-able…correct that…be-able.

    • Z Egloff February 19, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      Hi Jo,

      I love this “be doing” phrase. I can definitely relate to this.

      Amit Goswami recommends that we do-be-do-be-do. There definitely needs to be a combination of the two. Though I have tended to lean on the Do more than the Be.

      I am grateful that I have Four More Years to entice you into the ways of the Be. I really do think it’s do-be-able! :)

      XOZ

  4. Alora February 19, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Wow! What a great post! It’s amazing how the more simple-sounding things are the ones that really crack us open and challenge us. And in the end they are the ones that matter. In this go-go-go world I think this post is AMAZING. Thank you for writing it!

    • Z Egloff February 19, 2013 at 11:13 am #

      Hi Alora,

      Groovy to see you here! I’m glad you liked the post. I really like the way you point out that it’s the seemingly simple things that are invariably the most life-changing. And that this is what really matters. Yes!

      XOZ

  5. squirrel February 19, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    hi z. happy tuesday! this post got me thinking about the challenges i experience in just sitting and being. i’m also very “do-ing”-oriented. i can’t remember the last time i sat and did nothing but breathe – when i do, it becomes a meditation or a time of actively thinking. when i feel complete, i move on to the next ACTIVity. but my down time has increased a great deal. i get to watch mindless tv or read or whatever. i’m uncertain if it is because i’ve gotten into the habit of it, or if my body and mind actually shut down out of necessity. i’m finding that i can only focus on a few things at a time anymore, which is a little disconcerting for me. i feel like i should be doing more, but i lack the energy and desire (and consequently feel more guilty about taking my down time). it is a strange balancing act for me.

    thanks for being you, z!
    xos

    • Z Egloff February 19, 2013 at 11:17 am #

      Hi S!

      HT 2 U too! :)

      I can relate to what you say. For me, there is definitely guilt about taking down time. WTF?! I know that our society conditions us to Do Do Do. But then, when we slow down, we see that there are all sorts of internal blocks to such Be-ing time. I’m glad that you’re taking more time to chill, though. A Be-ing Squirrel sounds good to me! Come to think of it, squirrels are always so busy, aren’t they? It’s not often you see a chillaxin’ squirrel. The time has come for Squirrels of the World to Simply Be! And so it Be!

      XOZ

      • squirrel February 19, 2013 at 11:51 am #

        and so it is! 😉

  6. Dinna February 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Wow….double Wow! I SERIOUSLY have to rethink what I’m saying when I respond to a simple question like “What’d ya do this weekend?”….. A response of nothing much is entirely NOT accurate. After reading your blog, I am DO-ing even when I think I’m not! I appreciate your insight!

    • Z Egloff February 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

      Hi Dinna!

      I know, right?! I think I’d like to get to the point that when someone asks me about what I did all weekend, I can say “Nothing” and totally mean it. Some day! :)

      XOZ

  7. Janet February 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    Hi Z,
    I consider myself a master at doing nothing, I could even teach a class on it…totally self-paced, of course, just send me a bunch of money and I will send you the syllabus!
    Love,
    Janet

    • Z Egloff February 20, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

      Hi Janet,

      LOL!

      I’m looking forward to taking your class. Let me write you a check.

      But wait, first I have to sit here a minute.

      I’ll get back to you. . . .

      XOZ

  8. Natasha February 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I am considering this act of doing nothing for the first time. It’s hard as I am always doing something however when I was in Mexico for two weeks, sometimes just sitting at the beach, staring and reading, I found myself at peace. What a concept. I hope to continue this as a practice as well. I guess it’s a practice. Maybe I’ll start with the morning once a week for a couple of hours and work my way into a day. Thank you Z for your post. It makes me want to do the same.

    • Z Egloff February 20, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

      Hi Natasha,

      Welcome to the land of the Goofballs! :)

      I like your description of your time in Mexico. It sounds awesome. And peaceful. Maybe that’s why some of us like vacations so much, as it’s the only time we can allow ourselves to let everything go and just be.

      Keep me posted on your Be-ing time!

      XOZ

  9. Barbara February 19, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    I had a forced week of doing nothing because I was sick. After reading your blog realized I would like to choose my nothing time instead of being forced into it. Thanks for sharing your views on this and gives me pause to think about my not doing time and how that relates to the self esteem.

    • Z Egloff February 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      Hi Barbara,

      Yes! I can relate to what you’re saying.

      For SO long, the only time I allowed myself to chill and do “nothing” was when I was sick. It’s been a real eye-opener to realize that I can allow this time even when I’m feeing well! When I first starting doing this, I would sometimes feel sick on my days off, simply because my body was so used to the two things going together! Luckily, I’m out of that habit now.

      Have fun doing nothing! :)

      XOZ

  10. Karen February 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

    What a terrific post and comments. And what a compelling topic.

    I’ve tried every trick in the book over the years to get myself to become less driven, more relaxed — which I guess is what we’re talking about here. Myself didn’t seem to move in that direction without, as you mention, sickness.

    Anywho, I eventually stopped trying to work from this be vs. do platform. I sort of took that out of the equation and made it about (drumroll, please) simply finding better-feeling thoughts. As I gradually moved up the emotional scale, I found that I didn’t need to figure out my be-do ratio anymore. It started improving on its own in response to my improved vibrational set-point.

    Consistently finding better-feeling thoughts has been for me a panacea — every aspect of life has improved in response to this habit (learned from Abraham-Hicks). As long as I keep pointed in the direction of finding thoughts that cause me to feel emotionally good, everything else seems to (well, most of the time) fall into place.

    Thankis, Z, for another insightful and clever post.

    • Z Egloff February 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      Hi Karen,

      As always, I appreciate your thoughtful and informative comments.

      I love that there are so many paths in this spiritual gig. I also love knowing that your work with Abraham=Hicks and the better-feeling thoughts has allowed every aspect of your life to improve. It doesn’t get any better than that. Except it does, because everything keeps getting better and better! :)

      I have also greatly benefitted from working with Abe – the downstream metaphor is the one that’s especially served me – and I love that you add their work to this discussion. Yay!

      XOZ

  11. Wy February 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    Ok, the hygienist in me screamed “Ick!!! BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!!”. Sorry. I had to let her out.

    XO
    Wy

    • Z Egloff February 21, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      Hi Wy!

      Melissa warned me that admitting that I skip my morning teeth-brushing on my day off might be disturbing to some! Just trying to keep things interesting. 😉

      XOZ

  12. Molly February 25, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    I could really relate to this post because I am also a consummate do-er, also an introvert, also someone whose self esteem comes from a sense of accomplishment. It is nearly impossible for me to truly relax at home. The best I can do is spend time in the garden, but there again, I’m busy getting something done.

    The only way I can truly revel in doing nothing is to take myself off to a nearby hot springs. I spend a couple of nights and there is nothing for me to do there except soak in the pools, stare at the trees and maybe read a book or magazine. I also find I am able to sleep much more restfully because I am able to truly calm down. I used to go once a year but am now trying to go 2 or 3 times.

    I find it very important, having this kind of time. One would think that doing nothing would be easy, but for we who need to feel productive to feel good about ourselves it’s actually very hard to make ourselves stop. Thanks for acknowledging this paradox.

    • Z Egloff February 26, 2013 at 10:00 am #

      Hi Molly,

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

      I appreciate your sharing about your experience with this idea of doing nothing. Your struggles with it sound SO much like mine.

      I really like how you have worked with your tendencies along these lines, and have found a way to chill out that works for you. Indeed, I am taking what you say to heart – I think that a similar strategy will be in my future.

      For our honeymoon, Melissa and I went to Tassajara Hot Springs, and I found that, after a few days there, I was able to really drop into a sense of peace. You remind me of the power of this. Thank you!

      XOZ

  13. Whitefire March 3, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Oh oh, thank you Z (and Jo Lauer) The idea of spaciousness the day after your chill day and Jo talking about being and doing, using the phrase, “I know what I’m going to be doing.”. I just saw the words “I AM doing” in my mind and got all suped up! The I AM is doing much more so, when I take that relax and chill day to just Be. And that means, no matter what I am doing I take the one day to relax, revitalize, and yes, like you Z, do my introvert fill-up-at-the-pump thing.I just forgot and you Z doodles are just the reminder I needed.

    When I had a regular job job, it was easier to mark my calendar. In my former life as a massage therapist, I would mark my day off, and if someone wanted me on that day, I’d say, “Sorry that day is booked, how about…” Did I worry about not finding another time? NO!

    I have been house hunting and redefining my job thing, so I let that day off go! Thanks to you all, I am no longer chasing my tail but allowing the I AM to do the work. I feel better already. Thank yooou Z

    • Z Egloff March 5, 2013 at 11:39 am #

      Hi Whitefire,

      Yay! I am so glad that this post is allowing your to reclaim that time and space for yourself. It can certainly be more of a challenge when there has been a schedule change.

      For me, I went from working in an office to working at home. Suddenly, there was a lot more “working” going on, and it was harder to find time and space for myself. Taking a whole day off provides an awesome barrier and boundary for chill time, allowing me to simply BE.

      Keep me posted on how it’s going for you!

      XOZ

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