In this article Kate Griffiths explores why doing nothing can lead to a greater sense of well being. She argues that there are three things you can focus on that will enable you to have more spring in your step each day.
I was at my daughters’ ballet class last night and managed to connect in with a Mum I had not seen for a while who in part inspired this article. She said to me that she could not understand why she had no energy. There was not time to go into depth about her day but from what I know of her, she is a very active person, always on the go. If you feel listless or overwhelmed by the thought of Christmas then ask yourself these questions:
- How much sleep do you get on average a night?
- How often do you meditate or actively slow down?
- When was the last time you reviewed the fuel you put in your body?
This may seem counter-intuitive because when you look around you all you can see is people running around like ants keeping busy. Perhaps consciously or unconsciously they have bought into the maxim idle hands are the devil’s tools. Have you? Apparently Americans now toil for eight-and-a-half hours a week more than they did in 1979, and as we know the UK is never far behind the US in these kinds of trends. Those working in the field of resilience have shown that people need eight hours a sleep a night. Recent research in the US suggests that sleep detoxes the brain. Whilst this result needs independent verification, this is an amazing finding because it helps us to understand why we need a good night’s sleep. Compare that to the findings from a survey last year by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention which estimated that almost a third of working adults get six hours or less of sleep a night.
Whether or not you work in an office, I think it is highly likely that you have a smart phone and are plugged into at least one form of social media be that Google plus, Twitter or Facebook. Even if you don’t have a smart phone, you probably have an email account. Another survey last year by Good Technology, a provider of secure mobile systems for businesses, found that more than 80% of respondents continue to work after leaving the office, 69% cannot go to bed without checking their inbox and 38% routinely check their work e-mails over dinner.
If this is the world you live in, how can you make it work better for you. A study of HR managers by the University of Washington in 2012 says that mindfulness helps us experience less stress and increase focus when multitasking. I am now very conscious of the hours that I work. I find that if I don’t monitor that then I have a greater tendency to get irritable with those closest to me. This week for example I have had fewer work commitments and so I have actively incorporated “me” time into my week. The highlight of which will be having lunch tomorrow with someone I met recently so that we can deepen our connection. I also find that when I build mindfulness into my day then I have greater resilience to deal with the daily demands of my family and my business and I can enjoy them rather than finding them a chore.
Schumpeter wrote a great article for the Economist recently called in praise of laziness. In it he cited some well-known businessmen who have figured at the value of doing nothing. Apparently Bill Gates takes two weeks of thinking time a year in an isolated cottage he owns. Jack Welch used to spend an hour a day staring out the window. Building this into your day will help you get a sense of your daily activities and to determine whether they add value or not. I would also recommend that you start a list of things that you are going to stop doing. It is very liberating. The more conscious you are about your vision, the easier this will be to achieve.
You can increase the amount of energy you have by reviewing what you eat. As my work has developed, I have had greater access to raw food and now whenever I run one of my mindfulness days, I always make some kind of bliss balls for my clients. Chia seeds, which look a bit like poppy seeds, are a great energy booster. There is something in the aphorism we are what we eat. It can tricky. Let me share an example of something that I learnt recently. Many people now drink semi-skimmed or skimmed milk because of the reduced fat content however the soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are actually found in the cream and so it can be argued that drink whole milk i.e. blue top milk is healthier.
In essence it is all about decluttering so just as you regularly spring clean your house, so you need to spring clean our mental space. Start by reflecting on how you spend your day in other words the physical activities that fill your day. And if you include a regular breathing space/ form of meditation into your day, you will start to be come conscious of the habits that no longer serve you and the thoughts that are driving your actions. This is the first step to emotional decluttering which will give you the mental space and energy you need. This is the key to getting more sparkle which is just what you need as we come into one of the busiest times of the year – the run up to Christmas.
Kate Griffiths has worked as a change consultant and coach in a range of organisations for over twenty years. She now works primarily with conscious business owners and leaders that recognise the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining what the new ways of doing business look like. She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation. She also leads mindfulness workshops and leadership programmes for soulpreneurs.