Let me start with the understatement of the century: Life is busy. This we know. Busy brings with it success, opportunity, reward. Busy is our fight for freedom. But, all too often busy also brings frustration, overwhelm and burnout.
Right now, I'm not revealing anything you and the rest of the world don't already know. And we know it's a problem. You only need to look at the growing popularity of minimalism too see we are longing to break the cycle of busy.
So now we speak of of following our passion, of intentional living, and of balancing our lives, but even that brings with it a weight.
So if self-awareness and balance are possible antidotes for our busy lives, why we are still unfulfilled?
Maybe we have forgotten how to just be.
Does every moment really need to be filled with intent and purpose? Does everything in our lives need to have meaning, be useful or add value to our lives?
In a word, no.
We have forgotten, that there is merit in doing nothing. Merit in just being.
But what is just being? Some of us are buried so far under our passion and purpose to remember what it's like to just be. Let me remind you.
Being is in those mundane moments where you stare out the window. It was once called day-dreaming.
It's those few minutes waiting in line. Sitting on the train. Walking to the car-park. Waiting for your lunch date to arrive. And in those few minutes you lay in a fuzzy state somewhere between sleep and awake.
We are programmed to use every spare second of time with purpose. We feel every moment should be productive in one way or another. Whether it be organizing something, attending to business or work. We seem to think these stolen moment should be used to fill our cup, and intentionally bring inner peace to our lives. When a small window of space opens up in our schedule, we rush to fill it with something productive.
But what if we didn't?
What if we allowed ourselves five minutes of nothing. Five minutes just to be. And by 'being' I don't mean clicking onto your social media network of choice or turning on Netflix.
What if instead you just went outside. Sat in the sunshine. Actually let the warmth permeate your body. What if you listened for the sounds of the earth. Not just the obvious, but the sounds that are there behind the noise of the world. The birds chirping, the wind rustle the leaves on the ground, the dog barking in the distance.
What if you concentrated on the sound of your breath and let it calm you and your racing mind.
What if you sat at your desk and closed your eyes for a minute and did the same? Could you? Or would you feel guilty? Even though the phone call you finished up left you with five minutes to spare, would you still feel the need to fill that space with something 'meaningful'? Something intentional, something productive? Or could you just be?
Time is such a precious commodity. We are rushing around every day to fit more into our lives. To make the most of every moment. To live like there was no tomorrow. To dance like no one is watching. To die with no regrets. And even though we may well be following our passion and striving for a simpler life, we still can't seem to quiet our world. Not even for five minutes.
We have forgotten the fine art, of just being.
If we sit alone, doing nothing we worry that we are seen as lonely. Depressed even. Or at worst, lazy and unproductive. And we feel guilty for doing so.
The truth is, that five minutes of nothing could do more for you than that hour you spent meditating. Or that ten minutes you spent working on your to-do list.
So the next time you finish up a meeting early, or find yourself waiting in the doctors surgery, don't rush to fill the void. Do nothing. Allow yourself to be. To breathe. To calm. It just might be the best five minutes of your day.
Jodi Gibson is a copywriter, blogger and fiction author who is currently working on her first novel. She lives in regional Victoria, Australia and spends her days wrangling words, kids, pets and a husband, while trying to avoid being side-tracked by social media and Ferrero Rochers. You can find Jodi at www.jfgibson.com.au