I’m really looking forward to 2019, it feels like a year of change and I’m hoping the energy and work so many of us put into 2018 will come to fruition. In celebration of the new year I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions. I’m going to fight the urge to be doing more.
Well, maybe one. Less striving, more being.
It’s hard to do when we already have such busy lives and still feel as though we ‘should’ be doing more. More work, more hands-on parenting, more cooking, cleaning, studying, the list is endless. It’s the “doing” trap we’ve heard so much about. We rush from one project to the other wondering when we are going to feel satisfied with what we’ve achieved. And of course doing more leads to wanting to do more until we have literally, neurologically, trained our brains to work that way.
“Doing more” can become a habit
This means that it becomes harder and harder to rest without feeling anxious – as though you’re missing something or have forgotten something important. Restlessness, frustration, or a lack of motivation can creep in making it hard to start new things, and reducing the sense of accomplishment when we finish.
So I’m going to try something else. I’m going to replace ”I should’ every time it comes up with a couple of slow deep breaths. Sounds basic I know, but that little pause gives me a bit of distance from my thoughts and emotions, some clarity, instantly. When I check back in, often that voice of urgency and anxiety around the “I should do more” is a lot harder to hear. It’s a small thing I know, but hey, baby steps and repetition eventually become new neural pathways. It’s like a rest for your brain.
Why it works
Brief periods of rest are really beneficial for many physiological reasons and are also essential for good mental health. In the same way that we feel rested and rejuvenated after a holiday, our brain feels refreshed and able to think more clearly if we can give ourselves time to check in and take a few deep breaths or pauses during the day.
In a similar way, your regular yoga practice is a way to bring your attention, moment by moment into your body, fostering a feeling of connection that extends to your family, friends and workmates. When we feel connected with others we are more open to positive emotions like compassion, gratitude and happiness that bring meaning and joy to our lives.
These positive emotions are the antidote to striving, and are deeply gratifying. So, I wish you no New Year’s Resolutions, less thinking and nothing to do.