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Be finished with finishing

So often we do to get things done. In fact most of our days are spent getting through one activity or task after another. It seems as though the doing is ceaseless, except perhaps for a few moments at the end of our day or week. Why do we live in the constant cycle of doing? It as if we are all trying to get somewhere. A place where we can rest, relax and be at ease. We think that we might arrive there if we can just get done all of the stuff we feel like we have to do. Such is the case that most of us are not enjoying much of our doing, but rather wanting to simply get it over with so we can move onto doing the next thing that we don’t enjoy. All so that hopefully, at some point, we can get to an activity we like or simply just rest.

In a culture where we value productivity more than enjoyment, connection or presence, and perceive non-activity as laziness, we are set up to live as doing machines. The foundation for our dominant train of thought is how much or how many. When we go to our jobs we don’t get praised or promoted for our non-productivity or for our presence, but rather for how much we get done. We don’t get paid for how much we enjoy what we are doing, but rather only for the job done. While the culture creates this container for us, it is still us that values productivity more than enjoyment of what we are doing, and we continue to insist that perhaps we will arrive somewhere better at some future time.

As a result of this we are fairly disconnected from own impulses, urges to move and natural rhythms. You might call this intuition, but really it’s just listening and following your inner rhythms rather than your conditioned response to things. We constantly feel like we need “know something out there” because we can’t hear our own inner knowing. We seek for safety and certainty inside of situations or circumstances rather than within our own selves. So like any good and reliable machine we produce. We meet all of the outer expectations from bosses, friends and family members. We live up to all the marks the best we can and do whatever we perceive we need to do in order to be ok. With this we often ignore, repress, or deny our own rhythms of activity and non-activity. We feel stressed, not necessarily because of the situation, but because of our own disregard for listening to what feels good to us. We fear we won’t be taken care of, supported, or have all of our physical, emotional or social needs met if we don’t answer to the doing machine. We reserve relaxation for the few moments in our life where we don’t perceive threat. Then we call this being human. I’m not sure about you, but I think being human can be better than this.


Courageously choose joy

What would it take for you to do all you do through enjoyment, and never simply to get something done again? How would you have to think or structure your life differently? What if the purpose of activity is not to finish it, but rather to actively participate with the doing of it? What if you did not allow yourself to do something unless you were in a state of enjoyment about the doing? This is what it would be like to enjoy life rather than do life. It’s pretty much guaranteed that the activity of life will never come to a halting stop, but what can is how we engage with activity and what we value in terms of productivity and presence. There are no hard and fast rules here. It’s all about creating your experience of life how you want to be rather than the way it currently seems to be set up.

Many live as if there isn’t enough time. Like we can’t, or won’t be able to do all the things we need or want to in the time allotted. What if you create a new story for yourself that there is enough time for everything. Beyond that, what if rather than focusing on time altogether and what will or won’t be done inside of that time, you focus on enjoying whatever is occurring now. What if you stop should-ing and hav-ing yourself, and dismantle all of your resistance to enjoyment. Yes believe it or not most people resist enjoyment, but gladly accept suffering through things to get them done. It’s not logical, but it is normalized.

You might realize that you have some pretty hardcore beliefs in there that you are supposed to do stuff at whatever cost it is to your own enjoyment. That to enjoy life is a luxury rather than a must. But what if you made it must? What if you realized that enjoyment is not luxury, but rather it’s the value or standard you firmly ground your feet in and make it more important than productivity and getting things done. What if you don’t force yourself to do things that you don’t feel like doing, and what if you made it ok to rest and be, without guilt or fear, rather than always be engaged in activity? See it’s really your choice even if you think it’s not.

You might be wondering, won’t there be “consequences” for your actions, or more particularly for your non-actions? There will most definitely be effects, however they may not be as negative as you conjure them up to be in your mind. You might discover and fully embrace resting and enjoying, without judging it as lazy or making it mean something about your worth as a human being, which is something that not many people are successful at achieving (pun intended). Also as you let go of the pressure you place on yourself to do many of things you do or think you should do, you may find that you want to do some of those things, and in that way they become desirable and enjoyable rather than tasks to get done. This is all to come to the knowing that your ok-ness, worth, validation, approval, permission to feel good about yourself, security and safety is not dependent on your actions or non-actions. This frees you to do only from and through enjoyment. To longer be manipulated by your own or other’s stories about what you must do. Believe it or not, doing only from enjoyment takes tremendous courage, even though it’s the most natural way of living, which points to the fact that we live quite unnaturally. Be courageous and do only from enjoyment.

Dr. Amanda Love

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