What is the pace of your life?

This morning, I confess, I’m feeling a little ‘meh’. Please don’t worry about me or feel sorry for me, I’m sure it will pass, and I don’t think we can all feel on top of our game all the time.

But the day is beautiful today, the weather is gorgeous, so I decided to go for a little walk before I wrote this blog, before I started my work. I headed to the beach and walked along the sand, and listened to the waves.

I’d love to tell you that I had an amazing revelation while I was there. That the earth shook or that I started to sing for joy, or that I saw a pod of dolphins, or even a whale. But none of that happened. I just walked on the sand and listened to the waves and felt the sun on my back (and in my eyes walking the other way of course), and it was good.

I smiled at people walking the other way. They smiled back at me. I had a lovely short catch up with some good friends who were enjoying a coffee to start their morning.

Then after half an hour I headed back home, back to the washing and the cleaning, the writing and the marketing.

The thing I am so very grateful for this morning is that my life is now being lived at a walking pace. I am no longer running from appointment to appointment. I am not living at a sprint. I have the space to take the opportunity that the perfect weather afforded and to have a morning walk on the beach. I’m grateful that I don’t need to wait for this kind of weather to occur on the weekend – that’s a bit chancy in Tasmania.

I know I am supremely privileged and blessed. But today I don’t want to feel guilty about that. Today I just want to feel grateful for a bit more space in my life and for the chance to walk.

And I encourage you, if you’re able, to remove just a few things from your schedule this week to allow your life to slow to a walking pace too.

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

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Rest

This week I’ve been reading a book called Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. I had heard it highly recommended on a podcast so I toddled along to the library and placed myself on the hold list and got hold of a copy. I was number 2 on the list for this book, not number 60 like I am for a book called Educated by Tara Westover. You might get a book report on that one too but you’re going to be waiting a while.

Anyway, Rest is one of those books that looks at the science behind resting – fMRIs and studies of various student groups, and all that kind of stuff. It also looks at the lives of great achievers through history – great politicians, authors, artists, and scientists – and shows us how they incorporated rest into their lives, encouraging us to do the same.

When Alex talks about rest, he’s talking about sleeping well at night, napping, walking, vigorous exercise (like marathons, or rock climbing), and immersive hobbies (like chess or building an 18 ft robot giraffe). All of these are aspects of rest and help renew our minds so that we can work better and more creatively.

He nowhere mentions watching TV or movies or surfing social media as aspects of rest.

When Moz and I were first married we lived in a little granny flat out the back of a friend’s house. For the first few months we had no television. (And no computer. Almost no one had a computer back then. It’s really crazy to think about that.)

We didn’t miss it very much at all. We read, we chatted, visited with friends. It wasn’t a problem most of the time. But there were some days I remember coming home and really wanting to sit and stare and be entertained. So I think that TV has its place in the list of restful activities.

But I also think TV-watching has a very limited ability to refresh us. It is so easy to keep watching, keep flicking to the next Netflix show, when it would be much better for us to either sleep, or walk, or read. Any of those things would be ultimately more refreshing. I can spend a day watching TV and be more exhausted at the end than I was at the beginning.

Social media is similar. I love to just scroll through my feed when I’m feeling tired. But the scroll can become never-ending and you can end up more tired than when you started. And more disturbed and emotionally unwell too, depending on the content that comes up.

It’s important for our brains to feel boredom. To spend a little bit of time not being entertained. The flickering low-level entertainment of TV and social media is a short-term gain but a long-term loss for our well-being. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, I’m not saying anything new. But maybe it’s important to check what we are doing when we’re trying to rest, and see whether it actually helps us to feel rested or not.

It’s easy to read Rest and to add a checklist of new activities that you now have to tick off in order to achieve greatness. To feel pressure to add more of these ‘restful activities’ to your week. But I’m sure that’s not what Alex Pang intended.

Instead, if you’re feeling like you should be working more and more and harder and harder to get things done so that you will achieve what you are made for, this book will give you good scientific and historical evidence that making time to rest is essential for good work. And it will give you some good suggestions for what this rest could look like.

Rest, after all, is included in our instruction manual. Let’s include it in our lives.

 

Are you missing some of my blog posts? Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.