Have you noticed that many people’s lives seem too busy? Do you find your free time has less relaxation and more errands, work and busyness? 

With the “super information age” has come the “super stress age.”  Instead of having more leisure time, it seems many people’s lives are so busy, they chronically feel tired or overwhelmed. I hear so many people say, “I can’t keep up with my life, it keeps getting busier and busier.” Sadly, what they are choosing to sacrifice, is the quality of their lives and relationships.

It is time we step back and look at what is happening to us. From the proliferation of espresso stands, cell phones and pagers, it seems that many people are pushing themselves to do more in less time and for less pay.

Many employees work 50 to 70 hour weeks while eating lunch at their desk. Even though they know that the pace is inhumane, very competent employees still fear that they aren’t good enough to keep their jobs.

Seeing a lot of counselors and healing professionals living life at a frenzied pace, tells me that there is a “doing epidemic” in America that is out of control. It has been proliferated by corporations that value profit over the well-being of their employees, and by consumers who link their self-esteem to their material, professional or social status.

Stopping The “Doing Sickness”

The way out of this "doing epidemic" is to see that it is not a personal failing, but that millions of Americans are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. If you feel pushed to your limits, there may be nothing wrong with you, except that you are subscribing to a lifestyle that doesn’t honor who you really are.

Many people think they are failures if they feel overwhelmed by the complexity and demands of their life. It takes courageous people who know that getting their life back starts with getting their life to reflect what their heart knows is true.

In order to hear our heart, we need time to listen.  It is best to have enough time to slow down enough to go deep inside of yourself. Try sitting in meditation or silence and connect with something deeper than the frantic thought-stream in your head.  Focusing on feeling your emotional heart is a great way to start. If you are willing to hear whatever your heart or inner knowing has to say, the answer can be immediate.

After you settle in, listen to your heart’s answer when you ask it, “is there anything I could let go of in my life to be happier?”  Feel free to form another question that might work better for you.

When you are through with that question, ask, “What can I do to live more as my true self? Listen and receive all that your heart has to say. Don’t automatically reject something because it feels impossible. Our fantasies and dreams hold the key that can liberate us from an unhappy life into a joyful and exciting adventure.

If you get an answer, it is very important that you act on the advice as soon as possible. You may not be able to do all your heart wants, but you can make steps toward it. For instance, if your heart says “You need a vacation,” but you can’t take one now, take a weekend day off. On your days off, when you first wake up, ask yourself what you really want to do and only do what feels good to you. Usually, our real wants are very simple: a walk, bath, massage, perhaps reading or puttering in the garden or workshop.

I have found when I get into chronic “scurry mode,” that it is time to take the cure as soon as possible. The amazing thing is that when I take quality time, many of the outer demands of my life disappear! One of the greatest things we can do to change our outer world is to nurture the connection to our greater self and allow it  to guide our lives.

Doing Nothing Can Be The Fasted Way To Get Something Done

A long time ago I was looking for a job. I was sending out a lot resumes and interviewing but I couldn’t find a good job. I realized I was tired and too far from my inner source so I decided to spend the next morning sitting in spirit. It was a powerful time in which I was reminded that the greatest way to create something is to embody that energy and feel it. If I want a job where I can be true to myself, then I have to align myself with my “higher” or truer self and live from that place.

I also got an inner prompt to send a letter asking if there were any job openings to a woman I had interviewed with but who ended up hiring someone else. I really resisted this thought because I didn’t want to seem pushy or stupid because this small company filled the opening a month earlier. Even though my ego resisted, I followed my deeper guidance and sent the letter.

A few days later, I received a phone call from the woman who told me she was stunned by the synchronicity of my letter arriving. She told me that another job had opened up in her department. She had started to place an ad in the paper and got a hunch that she didn’t need to advertise because the right candidate would contact her. She didn’t really believe the hunch but decided to wait a few days to place the ad. It turned out to be a great job and the woman also became a good friend of mine.

I don’t think I would have contacted that company if I hadn’t gone into a deeper state than my normal consciousness. The paradox is that “not doing” and letting go, is often the greatest thing we can do to have something happen. As the Bible says, “put the kingdom of heaven first and all other things will be added unto you.” Because connecting with my inner being was my priority, I got a job that all my outer doing couldn’t make happen.

Trusting Our True Selves As children, most of us were taught to value what our teachers, parents and peers said more than our own knowing. It’s easy to see it in teenagers who think that their life will be over if they can’t get a popular item of clothing or an invitation to the right party. It can even be easy to see it in our neighbors whose over-zealous competition for the greenest lawn is blocking them from seeing what is really important. Too many women and even teenagers are getting breast implants even knowing they could seriously damage their health. Seven year-old children are on diets and wearing makeup. It seems like the less security and wisdom we have inside, the more we buy and do on the outside.

Just because a lot of people are doing it, doesn’t make it right. Somebody has to say “enough!” It is time to realize that “more is not always better.”

Research has shown that employees taking two breaks a day, out-perform those who don’t take any breaks.  If you don’t take breaks at work or in life, you will work harder, but get less done.

Animals in cages that don’t get enough contact often chew on themselves. People who aren’t living their lives from their true passion can suffer from excessive eating, TV watching or shopping.  Like eating cotton candy, which doesn’t satisfy hunger, neither do our “doing pastimes” quench the hunger for a real connection with ourselves and life. It is amazing to watch some people in the mall with their eyes glazed over, buying things on automatic pilot to numb their sense of emptiness or anxiety. 

Chronic TV watching is a particularly seductive habit because it gives a person the illusion that they are living. The time they spend absorbed in TV’s “pseudo-life,” is time they aren’t living their own life. Being in TV’s addictive trance, robs us of our dreams of producing a creative work or making a living doing what we love.  It’s important to be gentle with ourselves and have down time. Watching TV is certainly better than many other habits.

Many of us were raised with the idea that if you can’t do something well, don’t do it all.  The way to freedom and doing what we love is … to do what we love. If you like to sing, paint, write or want to make money in a new way, begin to do it in your spare time. Don’t think too far ahead about what it would take to make some income from it, or you may scare yourself out of moving forward at all. Take it one step at a time. Start small, write articles instead of a book. Be happy to write one song or craft one object. It defeats progress to focus on what you haven’t done yet. Praise yourself if you do one thing. Doing one thing is a lot better than doing nothing. Feeling good about what you have accomplished is the fuel that will keep you moving forward.

A lot of people just can’t see how they could find an hour a day, to do what feeds their soul. Do you get a sense of how sad this is and how dangerous our way of life is becoming? Many people in the most affluent country in the world find they have less leisure time as the years go by!

Parents especially need to be careful because they think they should give everything to their children. Often parents say, “I can’t do what I really want until my child is older.”

One of the most important things we teach our children is how to be happy. If you don’t take care of yourself, your children can grow up with all kinds of complexes like believing that love means sacrificing your own happiness.

One thing you can do to get out of the “no-time” zone, is to share honestly with those around you about how you feel. When workers realize it isn’t that they aren’t competent, but that their company is asking too much, they will band together to make changes.

When enough parents realize that they are too tired to do anything but sleep in their spare time, maybe they’ll start baby-sitting pools so they can help each other to get a real break.

When enough people realize that they don’t have the quality of life they want, maybe they’ll take stock of their life. Ask yourself what do you want your life to be about? Is it acquiring possessions, being in debt and putting on weight in front of the TV, because you are too exhausted to do anything else? Or would you rather be laughing, playing and feeling good, spending quality time with those you love?

The choice is truly yours, but it may mean standing up against the “doing sickness” of our times. Maybe it is time to realize that you want to bring sanity, love, and a quality way of being back into your life and the lives of those you love.

You have no idea how many people’s lives your way of being will touch. People can feel it when someone walks into the room that “has something.”  People are hungry for a way out. And the way out is as simple as following your own heart. Each of us knows the truth of what will make us happy.

How to Get Your Life Back

To get yourself back on track to living the life YOU choose, consider taking a break from all activities that aren’t vital for your livelihood or don’t feed your soul. Make a list of the activities and experiences that deeply nurture you. It might be being in nature or working on hobbies. If you are a parent, try to find a babysitter while you give yourself at least four hours a week to do only what you really want to do. You will find that the extra energy and joy you have to give to your children will more than compensate them for your time off.

If you want quality relationships in your life, you have to bring quality energy into them. Once a week, plan to spend at least two hours doing something fun with each of your family members. This is one of the most powerful things you can do to ensure the health, happiness and longevity of your relationships. And an extra bonus will be, that you will be supporting those around you to do the same. Isn’t helping each other to have the life we truly want, a big part of why we are here?

So, if you see your loved ones with a cell phone glued to their ear, moving at lightening speed, slow them down for a hug and a reminder, that there is more to life than work and making money and getting things done.

As more of us wake up to see we are in the same boat, we will help each other to row it to a saner lifestyle. Our lives will reflect who we really are, what we know is important, and what we really came here to do. A lovely paradox is, that honoring who we really are, is one of the greatest things we can do to make this world a better place to live in.  

© 1999

Valerie Stuart offers sessions in Presence, a direct connection to the truth of who you are.  Go beyond problem-solving into living from your true being.  She specializes in healing, lifework, relationship, spiritual issues and working with diet to heal disease.  More info at the Private Sessions tab at www.livinginpresence.com

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Take Back Your Life
By Valerie Stuart