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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