Try Giving Up All Hope

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Hope gets a great deal of good publicity. At face value, to hope indicates an intrepid spirit who is relentless in their pursuit of happiness. We are taught that it’s the one thing we will always have and to never give it up. It even floats.

It may come with a much shinier facade, but hope is actually just another form of resistance.

If you’re hoping for something new or better then what you are also doing is arguing with some aspect of your reality. Between you and full acceptance of the present moment lies hope.

To have hope is to say “no” to your life in some way.

To have hope makes it sound like you’ve gone and chosen a positive mindset, but it is actually desire drenched in expectation. “This should not be happening so something else better come along to make it far more acceptable.”

Hope is an attachment. “I need this to happen. If it doesn’t happen, that means my life is officially headed toward a downward spiral.”

Hope is like a prayer with a underlying conditional offer. “I hope this happens. (Because I’ll only be happy if it does.”

We humans love hoping for something better, in fact, we appear to be addicted to hope. Count how many times you refer to hope in a day. Then count how many times someone else does. The trick will be to not lose track.

We are constantly wanting our present to be different than it is and it’s doing nothing but adding to our suffering. The essence of stress is arguing with what is.

Hoping is a euphemism for worrying. It sounds better and it gets much better press. Hope is the socially accepted way to fret.

If you are into living with more ease, consider giving up all hope. End all hope. Give up hope for Lent. Let go of hope and choose to be completely at one with yourself, other people, and your circumstances. Love what is and see where that takes you.

Give up all hope and replace it with belief. Believe that the universe knows exactly what it’s doing and that it doesn’t make mistakes. Trust that no matter what happens, you are being lovingly guided along a path that has your very best interests in mind.

Toss hope aside and believe that there is always perfection unfolding.

Try being hopeless. Let the yearning, grasping, and reaching fall away.

Breathe deeply. Live in the mystery.

Dreaming is wonderful. Send out your big, beautiful intentions to the universe and then allow life to unfold. Rather than hope for this one, very particular outcome, stay completely open to when and how your thoughts will take shape.

Giving up hope is not giving up. Giving up hope is giving up the need to control. Giving up hope is an act of surrender that comes from an unwavering trust that all is coming – and a commitment to keep your mind and heart open to all the infinite possibilities of what “all” contains.

And then just think how much fun it will be to tell people that you are completely hopeless while wearing a big ol’ grin on your face.

Resistance Is Futile…and at the core of anything you are stressed out about.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

When the resistance is gone, so are the demons.” – Pema Chödrön, nun/author/Buddhist teacher

The last time I published a blog was last June. As a writer, that blog-post-per-capita figure is somewhat alarming.

The fact that I didn’t post a blog in the summer is not a big deal to me because I spent most of my waking hours in July and August finishing my first book. While plowing through revisions and formatting to make an early September publishing deadline, mama wasn’t exactly looking for other opportunities to express herself. By mid-August it was starting to feel like I was competing on a writer’s version of “The Amazing Race.” And you know what, I did it! I won! I had my brand new book in hand to sell at my first speaking engagement of the fall season! What a triumphant feat! What a glorious feeling!

What a way to drain my battery right before heading into a busy fall of speaking engagements.

It was more of a bottoming-out than a drain. I kind of hit the proverbial wall.

In early September I started to feel…not myself. I woke up most mornings terribly anxious. I couldn’t come up with an original idea for the stage or the page. I wasn’t excited about going back on tour. It was a deadly combination of not being able to and not wanting to continue doing the hard work that comes along with running your own business.

Week after week, I continued to feel “stuck” due to my malaise and anxiety. I desperately wanted to be the “go-getter” I normally am, but no dice. I tried to push my way out of the fog, but no clarity would come. I sat on the phone with my mother in disbelief. I fought against the reality that I went from publishing a book to finding it hard to read a book.

By mid-October I was so sick of feeling “stuck” that I started to think about quitting. I was traveling to a speaking engagement in Kingston all the while re-framing it into the first show of my farewell tour. As irony would have it, the show in Kingston was a great one and I had a blast on stage. Oh, Murphy. You and your crazy law.

When I got back from Kingston, my wee bit of success and enjoyment inspired me to change my mind about what I was going through. I chose to embrace the fact that I was “stuck”. I allowed myself to feel creatively uninspired and entrepreneurially static. I committed to doing my very best on stage and nothing else. I began to work with the fact that I was pausing (for whatever reason) and put my ambition on pause. I stopped resisting.

I decided to rest instead.

Yep, if I wasn’t getting ready for or doing a show, then I was at yoga class, out on the curling ice, hanging with my friends, or chilling out at home. I went with the flow of my path rather than against the grain. It felt so good.

This past fall, I was once again shown the power of surrender. The peace that is created when you put down your weapons and end the battle. The battle is often seen to be you against the world, but it is and always will be you against yourself.

Surrender takes place when you stop asking, “How is this happening?”, or “Why me?”, and you finally ask, “What will I make of it?”

Surrender can often be the shift in consciousness that brings you the ease you are dreaming of. Next time you are entrenched in the battle, wave the white flag and trust the path. Decide to live in the mystery during those times when you wish your life came with background music so you could understand what the hell is going on.

After a few weeks of viewing my “stillness” as my friend rather than my enemy, my spirits began to lift. In late November, I spoke at a women’s event that ended up to be one of the best performances of my life. More importantly, Stella got her groove back. My spark had returned. I was inspired to move forward with my work again.

I continued resting through the holiday season into the new year. A couple weeks ago, I returned to my work feeling myself again with all kinds of projects underway. I am more committed to being the messenger than ever before.

The next time the universe changes the tempo of my life or presents any other change in my circumstances, my intention is to play along. I so clearly see that the essence of suffering is arguing with what is.

For whatever reason, I was stopped in my tracks this fall and I was shown the suffering I cause for myself when I want my circumstances to be different than they are. The very essence of stress is arguing with what is – when you push something away – when you say “no” to what life is presenting to you.

When you let go of what you think your life is supposed to be and allow the path to unfold, the peace that is created within sets the stage for the next miracle.

 

 

 

The Balance Between Gratitude & Managing Expectations

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

After I sent out a tweet this morning, someone on Facebook commented on the message by saying, “Susan, you sound like you have such an amazing life.”

Yes, I certainly do. I love what I do for a living, I’ve got my health, I have a wonderful circle of friends, a great family, I’ve got money in my pocket, I like the colour of my hair, I’ve got a friend who loves me, I’ve got a house, I’ve got a car…

Tune into your abundance. You will see that you too lead an amazing life. Your version, not mine.

Yay gratitude. Stress cannot exist where there is gratitude. Go ahead and try to be aware of how good you’ve got it and freak out at the same time. Damn near impossible.

With all that gratitude going on, it’s also powerful for one’s spirit to manage your expectations about what life is and what it owes you. TRUTH: No one goes through this life without facing its challenges. If impermanence is the rule of this physical (3-D) world, then emotional and physical pain is the rule of the human experience.

Oh yes, life will hurt. You have and will pay dearly. You have and will feel alone. You have and will think that you can’t bear one more day of it.

It’s a good kind of hurt, though. Before you take that the wrong way, I’ll expand on that thought and say that the hurt has a mission. The pain is not here to squash you. It’s here to shake you awake. It’s here to widen your eyes. It’s here to throw a mirror in front of your face. It’s here to school you and that’ll learn ya.

As Indian philosopher and spiritual leader, Swami Vivekananda, once said, “The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.”

There is strength in knowing and seeing oneself clearly. There is strength in making new rules.

And with the awareness that each hurt is an opportunity to get stronger, evolve, and live a more awakened life, we experience pain, but we don’t experience suffering because we’ve come back around to what else?

Gratitude.

 

Accepting The Flux Of Life

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

I recently walked along the shores of Lake Huron with my mother. We were on a beach just north of the little town of Kincardine where her parents owned a cottage and she enjoyed many summers throughout her youth. Like other times before, we walked to the familiar point on the beach only to find that my mom’s old family cottage was no longer there.

The ol’ disappearing act strikes again. Something or someone exiting stage left.

Ah, the flux of life.

As my mom and I walked back to the car, she was graceful as she flowed with the flux. Indeed there was sadness, but I could sense her flowing nonetheless. I saw the peacefulness that comes when one doesn’t attach to stuff always existing like old family cottages waiting for you to come look at it every few years.

No attachment to external circumstances because flux happens.

Look back on your life so far and it’s one shocking beach walk after another. The conditions of our lives in constant flux.

Ships coming in (at last!) and being lost at sea…without a paddle.

You were thin and then you weren’t and now you’re somewhere in between. Or the other way around.

You had lots of money. And then you didn’t.

Friends came. They stayed for as long as they are supposed to. Some friends left…some are still around…for now, anyway.

You were overwhelmed and scared. And then you could do it with your eyes shut. (flux can be positive too, by the way)

You owned a home. And then you were back to renting.

You had great hair and then your hair stylist moved far away and you’ve never quite gotten your lid back to looking that good.

You were in love. You were alone. You were in love again. (And so on…)

You were in charge. And then you were de-throned.

You had a booming business or career. And then you didn’t. And then you reinvented yourself.

You were hip, you were cool, you were happenin’. And then one day you found yourself watching Much Music and couldn’t identify one band or artist that was on the screen. And you feel really old at the mall now.

Oh, you want more flux? Night to Day. Winter to Summer. New Moon to Full Moon. High Tide to Low Tide. Flux is the nature of things.

With all this flux around us, it’s interesting how we think we can or should be able to avoid it. Flux just isn’t something that happens to me.

Show me a life with lovers, level of wealth, number of friends, worldly possessions, and professional endeavours that haven’t changed and I’ll show you a woman in North America who hasn’t heard of the book, “Fifty Shades Of Grey“.

And yet our suffering stems from the illusion that something or someone in our lives can or should possess staying power.

Staying power is a myth. Security is a myth. What outside of us is truly secure in this life? Tell me that one and I’ll send you a free copy of “Fifty Shades Of Grey“.

Our reaction to flux often reminds me of the reaction Canadians have at the glimpse of the first snow fall of the winter. Even though we are aware that winter is a reality about our climate, when we see those first few flakes falling to the ground, it catches us off guard each time. “Oh my God, it’s snowing! Come over here to the window, check it out!!!!” Cue the mad scramble for snow shovels, snow blowers, snow tires, and non-freezing windshield wiper fluid.

Let’s not be like Canadians and their annual tizzy about winter. Rather than asking ourselves, Will flux happen?  The question to ask ourselves is, When will flux happen?

The shock of and resistance to flux is stressing us out. Let’s end the war against flux. Let’s embrace that it’s lurking out there to stir things up when it’s necessary and bring on the peace.

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the flux of life.

(Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Loved that theme song.)

Big Love,

susan

 

 

 

 

5 Ways To Lighten Up About Other People

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

In-laws that make you want to scream. Colleagues that make you want to leave. Friends that don’t share. Neighbours that just don’t care. Parents that don’t get it. And lovers that always sweat it.

We want them to be different. We wish they would do things the way we would. We get fired up. We get let down.

Working with, living with, and co-existing with other human beings can be one of the aspects of life that challenges our peaceful state of mind the most.

Challenging yes. But suffering is optional.

Very optional.

It depends how you choose to view all the shenanigans.

Here are 5 shifts in consciousness that can help you lighten up about other people:

1. What ever is going on, it’s perfect. Years ago all us souls agreed to put on a human suit and came down to experience all kinds of adventures and learn a whole bunch of lessons. Whether you’re deeply involved, mildly affected, or merely observing, all events and situations are unfolding as a way to edge us souls  further along in our evolution. Because everyone is here on their own little missions, what we see each other do or get mucking around trying to do stuff together are the divine dramas that gives us yet another opportunity to remember who we really are (which is joy) and reclaim that true nature in the midst of all the challenges of being a human. We show up to figure out ways to find our way home. Be that source of light we showed up as. What ever it is about that person or what ever happened that has you all in a tizzy is perfect. For them and you. How do I know this? Because it’s happening.

2. No matter what, it’s not about you. We can save ourselves a great deal of suffering by not taking things personally and see it for what it is – a sacred part of their human experience. As much as we kind of dig thinking that that everything is about us, what humans do and think, exists out of what agenda their soul agreed to before they zipped up their human suit and pursued life down here on earth. It’s never about you, but it is always about them finding their way back home.

3. People are always doing their very best. Yes, despite what we expect of the world and what we think people “should” be doing, thinking, or saying, everyone is doing their best. We are all at different points in our missions so based on the information and the experiences they have gathered thus far, this is all they’ve got. You choose the rest.

4. It’s none of your business. Aside from when people are in danger, coming to the rescue doesn’t serve anyone involved well. What other people doing, thinking, and saying is between them and the universe. If you’ve got advice and know “what’s best”, resist the urge to try and fix someone and something that is already perfect.

5. You are here to love. We’ve been conditioned to think that we’re here to do a hell of a lot more, but to find ways to be a source of light in this world is why we come down here and attempt this human experience in the first place. If we can choose to just love each other without any attachment to any of the outcomes that come from their human experience, that is compassion. Acting as if one outcome is good and another is bad is judgement.

It’s all good, baby.

Big Love,

susan

 

 

Why Meditation Is Everything That It’s Cracked Up To Be

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

My mind has been swirling and my soul has been restless for the past few days. Not sure why, but I seem to be reviewing the past and fretting about the future – or better yet, trying desperately to predict the future. Ah, the life and times of an amateur fortune teller. It’s interesting that the pros only focus on the good stuff while we novices tend to like to sit there and scare the crap out of ourselves.

The swirling and restlessness will dissipate (it always does), but in the meantime, all I can do is catch myself drifting away and then bring my focus back to the present moment. It takes awareness. The same awareness that one requires to avoid flatulating in a yoga class. Can I get an Amen?

Make a shift. Be Here Now.

Stressful thoughts always (yes, always) stem from an attachment to the past or future. Think of something that’s stressing you out right now – I guarantee you that it’s something that has already happened or not yet happened. A woman who attended a workshop that I did a few weeks ago challenged me on that point and after she told me that her stressor was the current construction taking place on her street, I asked her if she was standing on her street amidst the construction right now. She smiled and gave me a thumbs up.

Make a shift. Be Here Now.

When it comes to peeling oneself off the ceiling, returning to the present moment is like jotting down a gratitude list – it’s one of those quick acts of consciousness that can return you to planet earth in an instant which is a fabulous thing when there are other earthlings who are counting on you.

This is why meditation is everything that it’s cracked up to be.

You can meditate anywhere, by the way. If you’re focusing on what’s going on right in front of you, you’re meditating. If you’re walking down the street and that’s where your attention is, you’re meditating. I find chanting and deep breath meditation agonizing and boring. If I need to sit down and write a to-do list, I go and meditate because that list will be done in seconds. I’ve tried meditation CDs – those things are great, because while I’m listening to it, I unload the dishwasher, pay my bills online, and tidy my office. I know, I know…

I like to meditate off the cuff. If I bring my attention back to the part of my life that is right in front of me, I can instantly feel the tension lift, the shoulders drop, and the ground beneath my feet. For how ever long I can stay here, I am connected back to who I really am which is not my thoughts.

Even though it’s effective as all get-out, being present/meditation can be challenging. We humans can so easily drift away in the past or the future. We’re drifters from way back. I’m sure you’ve been talking with someone and thirty seconds into the conversation you are gone – your attention and thoughts are somewhere else. As you are standing there appearing to be having a conversation, you can see their mouth moving…you can hear sounds…but, you’re wondering if you should go ahead with having that dinner party in a couple weeks or hold off until the new sofa arrives.

When you’re in the car, see if you’re in the car. I will often be driving home from somewhere and not one of my thoughts will pertain to the fact that I’m operating a heavy piece of machinery that’s in motion. I’ll pull into my driveway, park my car, sit back, and think to myself, “Now, how the hell did I get here? I hope everyone’s okay!” 

When you’re in the shower in the morning, check and see if you’re in the shower. How many times are you already at that meeting, having that conversation with, sending that email, or doing something on your to-do list? Right now, I want you to consider how many times you have showered with the people you work with. I can always tell when I’ve drifted away in the shower because I’ll suddenly come back to the present moment and realize that I have no idea if I’ve put the conditioner in my hair yet. There’s a true reality check. Some mornings I’m sure my hair get an extra dose of conditioning.

I even find it challenging to be in the present moment when I’m away on vacation. Even though I’m relaxing on the beach or shopping in a big, cosmopolitan city, I’ll start drifting away. Maybe during my next holiday I’ll send postcards that say, “Having a great time! Wish I was here!” Sigh…

It’s certainly a challenge and it does take awareness, but the gifts of meditation (on a CD or off the cuff) are varied and numerous.

It’s rather appropriate that the word, present, has more than one meaning, wouldn’t you agree?

Big Love,

susan

 

The Difference Between Pain And Suffering

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Yes, there is a big difference between pain and suffering. They seem to be two words that describe the same experience, but I beg to well, differ.

I have a friend who has a mother who is extremely fractured. This woman has forgotten who she really is (I wrote another post about that very concept) and grown-up expectations, fears, judgements have led her far away from “home”. With that said, my friend’s mother doesn’t have anything to do with his brother, his brother’s wife, and their two beautiful little boys. I’m not exactly sure what happened in the past (that’s how big and nasty the incident was), but this guy’s mother decided to cut off all contact and hasn’t seen her one son (and his family) in many years.

Ain’t “love” grand?

My friend and his brother (and the rest of the family, most likely) feel pain because of this great divide within their family.

When life hands you challenges like my friend’s family situation, you have a shot at peace, empowerment, and light when you remember one important thing…

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

Pain is both physical and emotional. When we humans get hurt, we feel pain. Life has many inevitable challenges that are painful. Giving birth. Broken Limbs. Headaches. Heartaches. Sorrow.

Suffering on the other hand, is our gig. We choose if and when we suffer.

My friend and his family don’t necessarily have to add suffering on top of their pain.

When we wish life’s challenges were different or gone altogether, we amplify our pain.

When we expect someone or something to be different, we amplify our pain.

When we make the challenges into something more dramatic than it truly is, we amplify our pain.

When we place judgement on ourselves or other people, we amplify our pain.

When we take things personally (rather than remember all things are connected to the journey/evolution of the other person), we amplify our pain.

Suffering is pain multiplied by resistance. 

When pain comes along in life, and it will. Hold it close. Hear it’s whispers. Hear it’s lessons. Hear it’s call for you to accept what is so the pain doesn’t get any worse.

Be present.

See it only for what it is.

Choose compassion.

Remember that often you are witnessing the adventures of someone else’s human experience…it’s not really about you at all, darlin’.

Yes, pain is a part of life. Your physical and emotional being will indeed get a bit beat up now and again, but your soul is always quite content with the hijinks…it’s been well-planed, well-timed, and comes with great purpose, after all. Even when a mother loses her way and is far away from “home”.

Big Love,

susan

 

The 3 A’s That Can Change Everything (And Make You A Yoga Master)

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

I was in yoga class recently and that day the teacher started off by stating the focus of our practice. She said three words: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation.

It might appear that the main objectives of yoga are mastering each pose, achieving perfect balance, demonstrating Incredible Hulk-like strength, and rocking out olympian-style endurance, however, the point of yoga has very little to do with WHAT YOU DO, but rather, WHO YOU ARE. Are you focused on the present moment? Are you choosing to embrace and enjoy the effort? Are you being easy on yourself?

Maintaining a peaceful mindset throughout the challenges of the practice is the point of yoga.

And I believe, the point of life.

How does one manage to be peaceful in the face of challenges? Attention. Acceptance. Appreciation.

Attention. Bring your attention to the present moment. This requires major awareness as we humans tend to review the past and fret about the unknown future. Catch yourself in the act and choose to BE HERE NOW. Beyond being in the moment, attention is about paying close attention to how you view and think about the events, situations, and people that enter your life. It is our perceptions and thoughts that create our experiences. See if you can catch yourself in the act when attaching to expectations (how things/people SHOULD be), making the past into a dramatic story that could be turned into a made-for-TV-movie, making grand predictions of the future (and it ain’t pretty y’all!), judging yourself or others, and any other mind-chatter that gets in the way of shining your bright light.

Get all up in your business constantly. Question everything you think or say. Make sure it’s kind, loving, or at the very least, TRUE.

Acceptance. How much of your suffering comes from arguing with reality? Accepting everything is much, much easier said than done, right? So you may need a bit more than noble intentions. Accepting things and people for precisely what they are stems from your BELIEFS. What do you believe about this human experience? Do you believe  that we are spiritual beings down here on earth with the sole purpose of evolving? Do you believe that all events, situations, and people come with great purpose to edge you along in your evolution? Do you believe that everything and everyone that comes your way is just one more opportunity from the universe to be kind and to shine that bright light of yours?

Answers to those questions often determines one’s ability to accept (and be peaceful) when big changes happen at work, a relationship comes to an end, or when the cursor on your computer screen simply refuses to move no matter how much play with your mouse. Ommmmmmmmmm…shanti.

Appreciation. Even I cringe a bit on stage when I say to my audiences, “choose an attitude of gratitude“. Did you or did you not just gag a little when you read that phrase? But choose an attitude of gratitude, damn it. Love to hate it but do it. Why? Because suffering cannot exist where there is gratitude. Take stock of what you got, baby. Nothing brings one down quite like a mental review of what’s missing, what’s wrong, and how many things suck. It’s amazing how spirits lift and vibrations rise when you choose to focus on how good you’ve got it, how much you do have, and how many things truly are going well. Now, the most powerful gratitude list includes the stuff that challenged you the most…caused you pain, made you crazy, and took you to the proverbial edge because I BELIEVE  those experiences are the ones that have awakened you the most.

Because every thought has a chemical equivalent, these 3 A’s can change your health.

Because your mindset directly influences your performance and success (and not the other way around), these 3 A’s can change the work that you do.

Because your true nature is JOY, these 3 A’s can help you remember and reclaim it. Rock it out no matter what.

Because yoga is all about WHO YOU ARE in the face of challenges, these 3 A’s will make you a master no matter how many times you fall over.

Namaste,

susan

 

 

How Consciousness Can (and most likely will) Solve The Other Energy Crisis

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Maybe once or twice you’ve uttered the phrase, “I just don’t have the energy I used to.

Recently someone said to me, “The energy I had when I was young is long gone now.” The poor thing sounded like her energy was the other thing that thug took when he snagged her purse.

We talk about our energy like it inevitably dwindles with age much like our cares about what other people think.

Aging is inevitable, but there’s nothing inevitable about your rate of aging…or your energy levels.

You’re very much in charge.

You create your experience.

You want more energy? Wake up. Pay attention to your thoughts. Live and work with a higher level of consciousness.

Stressful mind-chatter eats up your energy like it just got outta jail.

Need more proof in that pudding? Cut to that night (or those nights) that you lied in bed with your eyes wide open…’cause you were stressing about something and that mind-chatter was keeping you up until dawn like a brand new lover. But you’re not that good kinda tired. Sigh…

Change your mindset, change your energy levels.

There’s proof of that too. Think about the times in your life when you were one rocking’ ball of energy. What were you up to? Yes, you were away on a holiday…you were on vacation! Oh yeah, baby…you felt like you were twenty-five again, didn’t you? There you were, walking miles and miles of a sandy beach each morning for a week! There you were, marching up and down the streets of a major cosmopolitan city shopping for eight to ten hours straight! “No, we can’t stop for lunch! Let’s keep going!” Oh there you were, trudging up and down the cobblestone lanes of those little European towns like a champion!

And then you got back to work. You could hardly muster up the chutzpa to go to the bathroom. As you were gathering the strength to stand up from your chair, it suddenly became too much and you decided to hold it and go at lunch because you were headed in that direction then anyway.

Oh, how the mighty had fallen.

It’s frustrating to not have the energy you want for work…hell, for life! I don’t know about you, but I find it very frustrating when I make it to the end of the week…it’s Friday night…and there I am at home asleep on the couch by nine o’clock. That’s sexy.

Thankfully we can access more energy by quieting our minds, focusing on the present moment, and choosing more peaceful thoughts that aren’t nearly as hungry as the stressful kind.

Change your mindset, change your energy levels.

Consciousness can help you party on a Friday night like rock star. Just be aware of how you are seeing the world and thinking about the world.

Choose thoughts that help you RISE and SHINE.

Maybe you DO have the energy you used to. Maybe it’s all in your head.

Big love,

susan

Is Productivity A Virtue?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Do you believe you are what you do? Is your self-worth hinged on whether you accomplish your to-do list?

As our ego is our self-identity based on external things such as possessions and achievements, it often leads us to believe that we are what we do. And out of that main belief comes thoughts like “I should be busy….all the time.” “If the house is clean, the errands are done, and the emails have been sent, then I’m a good person worthy of love.

Have you ever uttered such thoughts or ones like that in your head? Lord knows I have.

There’s a popular bumper-sticker that says, “Jesus is coming, look busy!” The number one rule in comedy is that it’s funny because it’s true. The truth is, if word got out that son of God was dropping by, I think most people would heads down it and throw in a few grunts for extra measure.

Admittedly, in the past, I have chosen to do laundry over going out to see a movie with friends, so I can avoid hearing my ego whisper with disdain, “There you go being lazy again – good people get jobs done first and only relax if there’s time left over.” Oh yes, there have been many times that I chose to do something productive over spending time relaxing, rejuvenating, or playing so I didn’t have to spend my entire day obsessing about what I should have be doing. Have you ever suffered from a bad case of the shoulds? You finally make time to relax or have fun and then you spend the whole time feeling bad – there you are trying to JUST BE and shoulding yourself. God bless us – we try desperately to enjoy yourselves but so often we just end up in a state of self-loathing because our almighty to-do list isn’t going to-do itself.

As the CEO of Yahoo, Carol Bartz, once said at Maria Shriver’s annual women’s conference, Let’s be very clear – the issue isn’t about balance, it’s guilt.” Can I get an Amen?

Here are some secret thoughts that you may or may not have had that indicate a belief that be busy makes you a good person…

If I’m not busy, others will think I’m lazy.” (most of the time people are too busy and too busy thinking about themselves to really care what you’re up to)

The busier I am, the cooler I am.” (do you ever get the feeling that some people are just showing off?)

I don’t know how not to be busy.” (and you’re too busy to figure it out)

Hey, everybody else is busy.” (it’s like the peer pressure to wear Ralph Lauren button-downs, Bass penny loafers, and acid wash jeans all over again…sigh…)

If you are busy due to thinking it’s some kind of virtuous act and makes you a better person,  please consider that being busy is nothing more than being busy. Being busy doesn’t create self-worth, however, it can create fatigue that can compromise the quality of your life. Please consider that times of stillness, laughter, and play are actually essential if you want to be truly productive and achieve quality in your work.

Think of your energy much like a bank account. Being productive and being busy are the withdrawals. Rest and play are the deposits. Have you ever experienced  over-draft???

You may have had the fleeting or not-so-fleeting thought that being busy equals success. Well, if being busy leads you to lying spread-eagle on the floor gasping for air, can you really call that success? I mean, come on, isn’t it a real bummer when you finally make it to the end of a busy week – it’s Friday night – and there you are at home fast asleep on the couch by nine o’clock? Yeah, that’s sexy.

Do you want to have more rest, relaxation and fun in your life? It’s not really about better time management and making charts, it’s about having the courage to turn your back on a voice that has made you believe that productivity is virtuous like being honest and being generous.

It’s about creating a loving, supportive voice within yourself that allows you joy.

You won’t be as busy if you silence that chatter in your head that has made you believe that relaxing and having fun is right up there with lying and telling those kids with those UNICEF boxes at Hallowe’en to buzz off because you’re keeping our pennies for yourself, damn it.

Big Love,

susan