Last weekend I was visiting my new favourite spot, the farmers market, situated just a short bicycle ride from my new house. I had some yummy goodies in my basket, and the lady smiled at me behind the counter. “That’ll be €21,21. Oh how nice, that’s an angelic number!” Lately I have been seeing numbers everywhere, so at home I had to google the significance of this latest addition, the number 2121.
According to this numeric message I was headed for a period of peace and quiet. I had to laugh. Then why have I felt so damn busy all the time?
Trying to hurry yourself to peace
Earlier that weekend I had spent some time recounting dreams and plans for the future with a dear friend. Mostly I crave time. Time that feels like it will never end, time that feels peaceful, time to spend sitting around doing nothing. Time spent looking at people who were doing nothing, like a guy at the Farmers market we were observing while sipping coffee. “Look at him, he’s just sitting.” said my friend with a voice full of awe and admiration. “We should be more like this guy!” we decided.
Time for me equals freedom to fill it any way I want. And right now I want to spend it with my son, I want to take care of my self physically and mentally, I want to be able to work from home and to have that balance without compromising my paycheck.
My method to reach this domestic bliss seemed to include hurrying, extra work (to save up money to afford to slow down), and stressing about how little time there was to do everything I needed in order to reach my goal. This ended up in me running from one activity to another, always in a rush, and it never seemed to ease up. A classic hamster wheel phenomena. I am well aware that you cannot suffer your way to happiness, but I seem to think it’s perfectly reasonable to hurry myself to peace.
I was no better than the corporate souls who I sometimes want to save from themselves. The ones who work 12 hour days, say they will retire at 50 to live the life, but eventually never do because we all know what happens to someday’s.
So why was I thinking I could stress and hurry just to find my magical sweet spot in the future? Because if I really wanted peace, working from home and more time, I needed to create that into my every day, starting NOW.
What is bringing you stress?
I started observing my days in more detail. What was it specifically that gave me the feeling of stress, hurry and lack of time? I noticed that actually none of the activities I have in my life cause me stress. But this is key – I need to focus on those activities one at a time. Not just physically, but also mentally. If I only gave myself one activity to focus on, like cooking, playing with my son, cleaning or sitting in a train, my life was actually pretty good.
But too often I didn’t just focus on the task at hand. My mind was continuously thinking about the next 2-3 activities coming up, which made me feel stress about not being fast enough. Time was running out in my mind, I could never catch up and I could never simply rest. I would sit in the train thinking I should already be at the daycare, I would be at the daycare thinking how I should be home already. I would try to cook dinner while watching my son and entertaining my guest, wondering why my energy levels were drained. My brain was fried and I needed to learn a different way of being.
I’m a do-aholic so the natural thought for me was to do less. But as I learned, I only need to reduce the mental hamster wheel I have going on, and that will already bring a huge level of peace into my life. I should not try to be a circus act of performing 7 things at the same time, because I simply cannot. Nobody can. So when I’m cooking, I’m simply cooking. Full focus on the task of cooking. When I’m sitting in the train on my way to work, being fully in the train with my book, with my journal, and not fretting how I should or could be at the office already. Maybe I can walk a little bit slower giving myself the message that there is time.
My goodness, is this Mindfulness?
I made a pact with myself to take this seriously, because it is important. I don’t want to live in constant stress and worry, I don’t want to spend my precious moments on earth anxious, because in the end, it will all be alright.
The Relax Revolution
Last Saturday I went to see my long-time favourite author and creative being Elizabeth Gilbert in Utrecht (the Netherlands), and her message was this: let us start a revolution, let us do something so radical that it is unheard of! Let us be RELAXED as women. The entire audience of 2000 women (and 2 men), laughed. It seemed so impossible that we all laughed! Because isn’t it, impossible?
Gilbert said that the most relaxed person holds the most power in the room. In any room. And I believe she had a point when she said that only when we are relaxed and calm do we really know what to do. Only when we are relaxed can we make the right steps into the right direction. We hear our own essence, our higher self, and we can make the right moves forward. I know for me this holds true. When I’m pressured, stressed and wound up, I am not really the best version of me. I don’t hear my inner guidance, I don’t see any outcomes, I just keep on spinning on the wheel wanting to go faster and faster, wondering why I’m not getting anywhere.
So I’m starting my own revolution. And it starts by me just sitting in the train, not wishing to be anywhere else.
Because I’m not.