How Doing Nothing Brought Me Everything

“Never mistake motion for action.” ~~ Ernest Hemingway

Discover effortlessness - take a coffee break!Life is full of paradoxes. The more you give, the more you receive.  Love your enemies. Let go to get what you want. And …. doing less accomplishes more?

How can that be?

Many of us are taught that extreme effort — exertion, hard work, elbow grease, sweat — is the only way to get what you want in life. While there is nothing inherently wrong with applying these concepts to your action,  if you feel like this type of action is required yet your stomach sinks when you think about it, maybe it’s time to consider a new approach to “getting things done.”  Changing the mindset you bring to activity can reduce stress, increase well-being and cause an avalanche of good things to flow into your life.

I know, because I experienced it first-hand.

Years ago, I asked some  friends to help me move from one apartment to another. By this stage of my life, I’d spent years in demanding jobs that paid very little, trying to manage unmanageable personal to-do lists, unable to live up to the unattainable standards I’d set for myself. I was in constant motion, but never seemed to get anywhere.  I thought that if I wasn’t progressing or attaining my dreams, I must not be working hard enough, so I increased my efforts. By the time this move came along, I was a complete burnt-to-a-crisp stressed-out mess and it didn’t occur to me that there was anything wrong with that.

“We all need time to enjoy being alive without an agenda of getting something done.”
~~ Deborah King

Discover effortless living - relax!On moving day, my friends, gentlemen all, would not let me lift even a pillow. They un-assembled bookcases, lifted heavy furniture, hefted boxes, packed everything onto the moving van, and unpacked and re-assembled everything at the other end. I stood in the middle of my new, sparkling apartment, everything in place, amidst order and harmony, and realized in that moment there was nothing that needed to be done — I was free to …. do nothing!! I had never experienced such lightness, such ease, such fun, even, while moving – something that until now had been an agonizing, exhausting chore.  The relief and gratitude I felt was incredible, and lasted for months.

During this period of non-resistance — of feeling good every day, of feeling like life was an easy, effortless, joyful ride — relationships, money & incredible opportunities came my way without any effort on my part. It was a blissful time. I started to understand that feeling good brought miracles into my life. I realized I could change my life permanently and in spectacular ways — by doing less.

If you want things in your life that aren’t coming, if attaining your dreams feels like a struggle, consider doing less instead of more. Doing less opens you up. Doing less restores your balance. Doing less is an act of self-love.

Here are some ways to bring some more effortlessness into your life:

  • Give up guilt. When you consider doing less, if your first reaction is to feel guilt, shame, or another form of self-condemnation, please consider letting that go in order to reap the benefits of effortlessness. Accept yourself as worthy of taking needed rest. Simply ignoring your to-do list and then feeling bad about it is not the the aim. The aim is to consciously choose to treat yourself gently and kindly, and not only to be OK with that, but to embrace it.
  • Never, ever, ever, ever criticize yourself. Seriously! Never, ever. Criticizing yourself creates mental strain, and it’s counter-productive — instead of motivating you, it deflates you. If a team of personal assistants could not accomplish what you have on your to-do list today, then Houston? We have a problem. Consider choosing a handful of priorities to accomplish every day, let the rest go, and congratulate yourself for being so wise.
  • Record your accomplishments. Instead of looking at all the things on your to-do list that did not get done, consider making a list at the end of your day of the things you did do.  You will be amazed at how much you get done in a day! Taking a shower counts. Making meals for other people counts.  Straightening up the coffee area at work counts. Write it all down! And then pat yourself on the back!
  • Ask for help. If you are overwhelmed, make a list of specific tasks others can do that will give you some relief. And then, ask! Ask your husband to do the grocery shopping. Ask a family member to pick up your kids from school.  Ask a friend to babysit. And then use that time to give yourself what you’ve formerly been denying — like a few hours alone, a girls’ night out, a  leisurely stroll in the park.
  • Say “no” more often. This doesn’t only apply to saying “no” when  others ask for your time or attention. Notice when you assign yourself new projects, and consider whether doing them is really necessary. Do you really need to research one more diet program? Do you really need to drive across town for that particular brand of toothpaste when another brand at the store nearby will do for now?  Do you really need to do onemorething and then fly out the door, late again? I didn’t think so!
  • Hire assistance. How much is your time worth? Do you absolutely dread doing certain tasks?  Hire someone to do them. You’ll be surprised how affordable it is to outsource some of your tasks, and the peace of mind it brings is invaluable.
  • Practice bodacious self-care. Put yourself first. You count too. Schedule time in your day, every day, for self-care activities — and do what you enjoy. Whether it’s having a quiet cup of tea and staring out the window, or engaging in mixed martial arts at the gym, if it feeds your soul, do it.
  • Ask the Universe for help and believe you’ll get it. The better you feel, the more aligned you are with your  joyful Spirit, the more the Universe can support you with synchronistic events and plain ol’ miracles. Try living in that space and see what happens!

As the saying goes, you’re a human being, not a human doing. When you give yourself the gift of living more effortlessly by doing less, you’ll find — paradoxically – that you’re more productive and can actually accomplish more. But more important, you’ll bring yourself back into balance and rediscover your joy.