I’m taking a break in the Decoding Pain series, but much more to come on that in upcoming weeks.
Today, I am inspired to talk about doing less and still getting it all done. Do those two concepts seem competitive instead of complimentary? Think again!
This is one of my favorite topics, which is why I decided to create the Do Less, Be More telecourse this month (details above). Let me tell you more about the intention behind this class, and why I so love this topic!
One of the underlying issues beneath both physical pain and weight issues is the practice of over-efforting. Yes, I just made up that word. I kind of like it, actually! It describes my past lifestyle and habits perfectly. I am certainly not a zen master, but I have learned a great deal about why I put more effort and energy into everything than is strictly necessary – and how to get better results by doing less.
Quickly, though, I want to define doing less. Most people probably think of doing less as actually having fewer activities, projects, and to-do’s in the schedule. To some extent, that is part of doing less. But doing less also means doing less unnecessary mental activity. Have you ever noticed just how much mental energy you exert on things that are actually quite simple? What is all that mental energy? Usually, it’s one of the following:
Planning Ruminating Worrying Reviewing Thinking
I’ve certainly found I spend enormous amounts of time engaged in those mental activities around quite simple and small issues in my life. This is making a mountain out of a molehill – but just in my own mind.
Thinking, planning, ruminating, worrying, and reviewing takes a lot of mental energy. Since we can’t disconnect the mind from the body, this means it takes up a lot of energy, in general, from your physical reserves. Things that seem simple are exhausting and overwhelming. Soon, your body lets you know via illness or pain that you’ve seriously depleted your reserves. You start looking for ways to feel better and up your energy (though this is often quite unconscious), whether via overeating, over-vegging, over-exercising, or other activities.
Without tools to decrease the amount of mental energy you’re exerting, you end up taking this mental habit into the rest of your life. You start to try harder. If something goes wrong, your first move is to work harder and do more. If you’re trying to lose weight, this might mean adding in more exercise, or working out harder. If you’re struggling with pain, you might try to do more mind-body work, or see more doctors/health practitioners. Yet, all this extra effort rarely pays off.
Every time I’ve moved into an over-efforting pattern, I’ve ended up more tired, more overwhelmed, and more frustrated. It usually creates some kind of issue in my physical body as well. It often makes whatever I’m trying to get done even harder, and I often don’t get the results I want.
We live in a culture of doing. We underestimate the power of less. We even think of “being” activities like meditation as things we need to add to our to DO list, and chastise ourselves for not getting it done.
Doing less and being more is not about your to-do list. It’s about your mind. It’s about your emotions. It’s about this moment, right now, and how much energy you’re putting forth. Does it match the amount of effort truly needed? Have you experimented to find out?
Doing less is a little more complicated than you realized, isn’t it? Not to worry – once you start experimenting, you’ll see what I’m talking about. If you want to know everything I know about making your life work with less energy and effort, join me next week for my Do Less, Be More telecourse. It’s going to be a blast, and what better time to learn these tools? Your holidays can be the perfect practice ground. (Can’t make the class time? No worries – calls will be recorded and sent to you. You still get live participation in the online support forum and the worksheets. This is one to-do that you can schedule at your leisure!)
Come chat with me on my new Facebook page! (Link below.)