Is it okay to go easy on ourselves?
Gosh! I am writing after a considerable gap. Certainly, not a good feeling, trust me. I call myself a writer. A writer who has written articles, blogs, poems, product descriptions and a gazillion of words since childhood. Having mentioned this, should I accept the gap? Should I take it in my stride? Should I still call myself a writer? After all, a passionate writer pens one thing or another almost every day. Isn’t it? Otherwise, does one even qualify to use the mighty word ‘writer’ while introducing self to the world?
Before I embark on my new article, I urge you to declutter your mind and pause every thought. I know, I know, it’s difficult but give it a try. I am sure you’re going to enjoy this read more if you do so.
This topic may appear ‘casual’. But, my motive is to explore our existence a little bit and a couple of things associated with it.
Let’s get drenched in light of different viewpoints together.
We are told to be serious, be passionate, be watchful of our actions our routine our dreams and our steps. We live in a world where starting from social media channels like facebook, Instagram to other online and offline channels, all communication mediums want us to be on our toes as much as possible. They keep sharing tips and tricks so that we can beat the competition, so that we manage to stay ahead of everybody, so that we ultimately conquer the world (as though the world is supposed to be conquered by people like us).
Amidst this chaos, is it then, really okay to go easy on ourselves?
Let’s dive deeper and try to build an understanding.
We mostly live away from nature these days. Air, water, sunlight, trees, flowers, we seldom take time out to experience each of these. We are habituated to surrounding ourselves with the latest technology which mostly comprises gadgets such as smartphones, laptops, smartwatches, Smart tvs etc. We own things we don’t use for months and these things generally cover a lot of space in our houses. However, nobody would deny the fact that gadgets have made our lives easier and they save our time too.
I witness a tussle though. This tussle begins at the dawn and continues till midnight when I crave some rest. The tussle that I am going to delve into is something that we all share.
The great tussle of the “Screen time” and “Me time”.
The vagaries of our movements are such that we don’t evaluate why we are doing what we are doing peacefully. For instance, watching useless videos on YouTube for hours, creating posts we would not like to see the next day, forwarding messages that we feel are good but don’t make sense to most people, browsing the internet endlessly and there’s a lot more that we intentionally, unintentionally keep doing or repeating throughout the day.
Let’s identify the main problem now. The problem is, we tend to stay away from ‘quality’ as it asks for our time, effort and patience.
As we have access to so many channels on which we can immediately publish a piece sans a series of contemplations, we end up satisfying ourselves by clicking the ‘Post’ or ‘Publish’ button. We post anything that’s ready to be consumed by a bigger audience spread across the globe, rendering a sense of achievement and completion to us, making us happy as a result. No questions, no judgement, we experience absolute freedom when we hit that ‘Post’ or ‘Publish’ button when we are online.
Some of the world famous social media channels got killer designs to keep us hooked. And, since we stay hooked for hours and hours (thanks to the pandemic), we hardly notice what all essential items we are missing out on or what all we are consciously avoiding.
Our ‘screen’ time is much more than our ‘me’ time. ‘Me’ time is subjective, you would agree. I have a slightly different take on ‘me’ time though. I feel ‘me’ time should be more about healing self and experiencing things which compliment our body and mind both. ‘Me’ time shouldn’t be about consuming trash frequently. I strongly feel we can figure out what books, articles, topics make more sense, are more reliable, more helpful.
‘Me’ time however mean hundred other things as well. It could mean ‘sound sleep’, it could also mean ‘avoiding actions that may induce anxiety’, it could even mean ‘taking deep breaths’. Your version of ‘me’ time could be very different from how I conceive it which is normal. Nothing scary or unusual about it.
Internet got thousands of articles and videos on different subjects covering ‘How’, ‘What’ and ‘Why’ to help us understand their application in our daily lives. I have read several such articles and watched hundreds of videos thinking those can help build my personality. They did the opposite instead. Starting from grammatical errors to the sentence structure to the on-screen act, that seemingly helpful information apparently, started deteriorating my personality, my language. I thank myself for acknowledging this bitter truth. Anyway, I think we know quite a lot about our online activities. Knowing is good, but swift movement towards solutions is what truly matters.
Is it possible to remove all the clutter from our minds, our routine to experience something worthwhile as often as possible?
The answer is, Yes! It is possible. But, to attain work-life balance, we need to align ourselves with some high impact, thoughtful actions which could support us in the long run. No, I am not going to share a plan with you or anything similar. All you need to do is, finish reading this article to get to the ultimate understanding. The term ‘ultimate understanding’ is more towards the application of practical ideas to do things wisely in our daily lives.
We hardly know how to ‘detox’.
We need to learn to go easy on ourselves. See, this isn’t something that I am talking about or dwelling upon for the first time. Many spiritual leaders, entrepreneurs, even politicians have talked about ‘me’ time, how to relax, detach selves from different types of worldly things. They have meticulously shared a lot of tips with millions of people worldwide and they frequently do so. You can easily find their videos on YouTube.
Sadhguru on his website called isha puts forth, “The moment we utter the word “meditation,” there are all kinds of misconceptions about it. First of all the English word “meditation” doesn’t mean anything in the sense, if you close your eyes and sit, in English we call it “meditation.” You can sit with your eyes closed and do many things. There are many dimensions. You can do japa, tapa, dharana, dhyana, samadhi, shoonya. Or you might have just mastered the art of sleeping in vertical postures! You cannot do meditation but you can become meditative. Meditation is a certain quality. It is not a certain act. If you cultivate your body, your mind, your energies and your emotions to a certain level of maturity, meditation will naturally happen. It is just like if you keep the soil fertile, if you give it the necessary manure and water and if the right kind of seed is there, it will grow and bloom into flowers and fruits.”
Similarly, ‘going easy on ourselves’ isn’t something that we can do or achieve by closing our eyes, sitting quietly in a room. No. We can go easy on ourselves only when we stop welcoming guilt when we consciously decide to drop something at a particular point.
We can prioritize two things today and keep 10 things for tomorrow. We are being told, reminded of the consequences so much so that every time we drop a task to just breathe or chill, we find ourselves surrounded by guilt. We start feeling as if we did not achieve big. We end up feeling bad about dropping a couple of tasks, the ones which do not really support our growth. A few of us must have been in situations where we were invited to be a part of a particular seminar or a talk which was not meant to be attended by us in the first place, owing to our hectic schedule. Still, we ended up feeling low. Why?
Do you know ‘multi-tasking’ is the boss that invites bigger problems like ‘stress’ for quick catch ups and also attacks our emotional intelligence with a grin? Look around you, observe closely. People who smile and laugh are very less in number. We are asked to multi-task and are also expected to personify perfection. This is the root cause of most of our problems.
Andrew Merle, who is a Contributing Writer at Atlassian (Atlassian develops products for software developers, project managers and other software development teams) published an article last year that beautifully shared the data-backed answer to an age-old question. The question is — How many hours is the ideal number of hours you should work per week? He writes and I quote, “Research tells us that productivity falls sharply after 50 hours per week, and drops off a cliff after 55 hours. Additionally, not taking at least one full day off per week leads to lower hourly output overall.
Research also reveals the damage to our physical health that overwork can cause. A study from the World Health Organization (WHO) found that working an average of 55 hours or more each week increases your risk of stroke by 35 percent and your risk of dying from heart disease by 17 percent, compared to averaging a 35–40 hour workweek.
Time management expert Laura Vanderkam (part of the same article) conducted a study to determine how the number of hours you work each day affects how much time you think you have.
Of the 900 people included in the study, the average employee worked 8.3 hours per day. And the results showed that there was only a one-hour difference between the workers who felt like they had a lot of time and those who felt time-pressured. Those who felt like they had the least time overall worked 8.6 hours, whereas those who felt like they had the most time worked just one hour less, or 7.6 hours.
So to not feel starved for time, aim for a 7.6 hour workday. That would equate to a 38-hour workweek. If you want to achieve the perfect blend of productivity, happiness, and time affluence, a more realistic goal is to work slightly below 40 hours per week.
The research shows that even shaving an hour or two off of the standard 40-hour workweek can have huge benefits, both at work and at home.
Less than 10% of workers are able to achieve that schedule. A good goal is to be one of those people.” Unquote.
I am choosing to go easy on myself more often. We may encounter a few difficulties at the beginning but it is doable. Let’s start sharing our problems, our priorities clearly with people around us. Let’s prioritize only those tasks which may affect us directly or demand fruition. Let’s build a healthy environment wherein more and more people are able to learn and apply new skills to elevate various systems at work as well as at home. Let’s focus more on our health, avoid screen after a point to make sure our mind is not unnecessarily occupied. Let’s workout, smile more, explore good food, places, cultures, read good books like ‘Ikigai’ and spend quality time with self and people we love because our well-being matters.