Looking Within to View the World
Day to day, life can become a deluge of endless tasks and things that need our attention. The harder we try and the more we do, the more that seems to need doing. Sometimes, life becomes a blur.
When we’re stuck in that sort of cycle, we don’t feel like we have the time to pause. After all, wasted time is time that could be better spent doing more things. Yes, a vacation would be nice but a working vacation at home, maybe I’d finally make a dint in the household chores. An afternoon off? Half an hour? Five minutes? No, I could probably throw in a load of laundry, check on my kid, and check my Facebook in that time.
The fact of the matter is that we live in a world that looks at the bottom line. Busyness is king. Notice I didn’t say production because that is an entirely different animal.
Production Versus Busyness
What’s the difference between busyness and production? You can look busy but you may not be all that productive. Actually, chances are if you are frantic, you aren’t being all that productive. You are running on autopilot, not really understanding what you are doing, making mistakes, and cutting corners. All said and done, you are making far more work for yourself and still not accomplishing your desired end.
Ultimately, productivity takes clarity. It requires that you look at what you are trying to accomplish, then find the best ways to accomplish that end. Then set those plans in motion. Often, that means letting go of the busy work (work that may look good but really does nothing) to focus on priorities.
Of course, the only way to accomplish clarity is to pause. To stop the mind for a moment and center yourself. To figure out what you want to accomplish, why, and how you’d go about doing so. You can time manage until the cows come home but if you are doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons, you’ll never see any results.
In the not so distant past, finding pause was built into our day to day life. Work was Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. Weekends were for family outings and worship. Then, each year, there would be the family vacation. Ideally, that was the expectation.
Before that, the seasons dictated our rest times. There were seasons of fierce activity and periods of rest. Celebrations, festivals, and get togethers.
These days, we have far more variety in the things we can do to find clarity. We can choose to meditate, pray, or contemplate. We can participate in do yoga, participate in sports, go hiking, or find ourselves in our art. Whatever works for us to help us regain ourselves and to remind us what is really important.
The big problem, I think, is that even when if and when we do these things we bring that busyness with us. Instead of quieting and softening into our deeper self, these activities merely become things on our to do list. In the end, instead of reducing our stress and providing clarity, they just add to the feeling that there’s never enough time.
In order to be effective, whatever we do to pause, to still ourselves, and to look within has to be done without an ulterior purpose. Paint to paint not to please others. Meditate to “be” with yourself rather than to show others what type of person you are.
If your mind continues its frantic chatter, you aren’t gaining clarity. If you’re thinking about the next thing on your list or feeling frazzled, you aren’t pausing. If, however, you come out of that activity feeling refreshed, clear headed, and ready to take on the world, you’ve found the key to clarity and in ultimately to productivity.