When we built our house in Durham ten years ago, I asked the builder if I could make a special request. He was very accommodating. He said he had heard it all. “Can you install a switch to turn off the doorbell?” That he had not heard. His response, “Why would you want that?!”
I explained that we had lived in the Philippines for twelve years and every evening when I headed to bed, I would climb up on the stool and detach the two exposed wires so that the doorbell would be rendered ineffective. I could get uninterrupted sleep and wake up refreshed for the next day’s opportunities and demands. Now we were moving into an under-resourced neighborhood in Durham and I knew we could get requests for assistance at any time of day or night.
Sometimes you need to know when it’s time to turn off the doorbell.
Of course, the builder had no problem installing a switch for the doorbell (for an added fee :)), but I realized that this is an apt metaphor for me.
In Brené Brown’s “10 Guideposts for Whole-hearted Living”, #7 leaps off the page: “Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.”
Apparently, I am not alone. Research indicates that in the United States, we’ve come to associate being busy with being very important.
The antidote? First, you must own it. That, in itself, is a process…sometimes a painful one. For me, it took not only some inner reflection (check out my blog, Are You Missing Too Many Recesses?), but also the helpful critique of a caring colleague (check out my blog, Chasing the carrot at the end of the stick…or…?).
Next, according to Brené Brown, you must cultivate play and rest. When I think of play, I think of kids, don’t you? But play can and should be part of all of our lives. According to Dr. Stuart Brown, Founder of the National Institute of Play, there are seven properties of play that are present through all stages of life. According to Stuart, play is about rest and rejuvenation. It shapes our brain, is essential to our health, and helps foster joy, creativity and innovation. Our obsession with productivity can even lead to the belief that sleep is a waste of time. YIKES!
I know that when I hit over-drive, I get overwhelmed. I tend to get blinders on and become a much-less-kind person to my family, friends, and co-workers. For some, this sense of overwhelm can lead to escapism through endless screen time…or a deep sense of dissatisfaction with life in general…or heightened anxiety…or even depression.
This month, I am purposing to play more. I am scheduling times to play board games with friends, take a hike with my husband, and take my granddaughter to the local park. What will you do?
As Brené Brown shares, “To rest and play does not mean you are lazy, weak or unproductive; it means that you value your health, want to take care of yourself and experience the present.”