Finding Freedom in Today's World

Why does society reward us for busyness?

Sleepless nights spent working overtime followed by coffee-fueled mornings as you rush to your 8am meetings. You must be so valued at work!

Jam-packed social calendars filled with your schedule, your kid’s schedules, seeing old friends, squeezing in a family visit, volunteer events. Oops, I can’t make Friday work, I’m already double-booked. You must be so popular and fulfilled!

Being in a state of exhaustion has become chic in some circles, where the belief is that you’re not truly living unless you’re moving 100 miles per hour at all times. Sleep when you’re dead, right? I used to fall victim to this plenty as a professional woman in my mid late-twenties as I saw others preaching that your twenties are for adventure, working for a company, and building your own empire (all at the same time). I’ve read on multiple occasions that in order to be successful, you have to work a 9 to 5 and come home to work on your “side gig” from 5 to 9. I’ve gotten blank stares when I tell people that I don’t own my own business or I’m not studying for my graduate degree…in my free time.

All of this is hilarious to me because I’ve never been a slacker. I’ve always had motivation to do well and live my best life, but I suppose that’s where my goals start looking different. In today’s world, success no longer equates to living your best life possible. Success is now gauged on how much you're doing and how little free time you have, like you have some type of disease if you have to sit at home and do nothing.

But isn’t that the exact definition of having “free time?” If you’re free on Friday night, what does that mean? You’re free of obligations. Free of responsibilities. Just Free. What’s more freeing than that?

If I’m honest, free time is my favorite time, and sitting at home and doing nothing is one of my favorite things to do. I also like doing nothing with my family & doing nothing while sitting outside on the patio with a cup of coffee.

Doing nothing has brought me so much in life, including clarity around what I do when I’m not doing nothing.

Having free time is so rewarding, like a surprise bonus at the end of a game, yet people fight against it with all their might. Here are 3 common myths of having free time:

  1. I can’t be successful if I sit around and do nothing (FALSE – when practiced properly and at appropriate times, slowing down actually helps nurture long-term success. Taking a beat helps us relax and better understand ourselves and others, which will only help you.)

  2. I can’t slow down, I do my best work when I’m busy/stressed/under pressure (FALSE – you might work well under pressure, but we all work best when we’re at 100%. And we certainly aren’t at 100% if we run ourselves into the ground.)

  3. Having free time means I have to give up all the things I love doing (FALSE – you can find free time throughout the day. Like when you each lunch while scrolling through Instagram or when you're watching TV before bed. Cut these non-essential activities down by a few minutes and just be.)

Regardless of the benefits, most people can’t actually turn off when they’re done with everything they have to do. Our coworkers applaud us for checking email on the weekends. Our friends pat our packs when we show up to happy hour with bags under our eyes. We’ve been taught to over-commit and run on fumes and end up feeling like crap so we can show how dedicated we are to something. How silly is that?

What if we showed the same relentless dedication to our own well being, physically and mentally? What if instead of “always going” we were able to turn off for a little bit each day and truly enjoy that moment we have? What would happen if we took just a little less time doing and used it to think about what we’re doing (in that moment, that day, or in life)?

For starters, we’d be a heck of a lot happier. We’ve already talked in the series about how mindfulness can play into our sanity and lower our stress levels, but we’d also feel more connected and more in control. We’d better understand ourselves and our lives. We’d better understand those around us. And ultimately, we’d even have a better understanding of how to best spend our energy on the things that keep us busy, like our relationships, work, or even that masters degree.

It’s time to ditch the common myths around having free time and start prioritizing doing nothing.

Have a great week & flaunt your "free" :)

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