~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #139
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“When we take the right to rest, when we make rest fulfilling, and when we practice rest through our days and years, we also make our lives richer and more fulfilling.” —Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done when You Work Less
Charles Darwin partook in regular 10 miles walks, Alice Munro walked three miles each day, Winston Churchill engaged in painting, Lin-Manual Miranda took his dog each Sunday for walks through the parks in New York City, J.R.R. Tolkien and Ray Bradbury took daily afternoon naps, workers at Bletchley Park during WWII chose chess as a favorite pastime and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court Elena Kagan boxes regularly with her personal trainer.
Initially when the word ‘rest’ is mentioned, we may think of sitting on the sofa, flipping through channels, but the difference between mindless rest and deliberate rest is that it “enables productivity”. When we truly rest, our minds are not actually stagnant. In actuality, we are enabling them to do what they need to do, work through, dispose of, find and reach understandings and connections that when we are active at work, it is unable to do completely.
The difference between mindless and deliberate rest is what you are feeding your brain. Sitting down and watching a thoughtful, engaging film can absolutely be deliberate rest. It may offer ideas and insights that eventually help us make connections we didn’t see prior to viewing of the film; the key is to feed our minds well. Give it quality fuel and quality results have the possibility of being produced, even while we sleep.
Recently, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s new book Rest was released, and contained inside the covers is a wealth of research, seemingly infinite anecdotes from historical and current individuals that reveal the power of deliberate rest being incorporated into our daily lives. Throughout today’s post, I will be sharing many different quotes, and unless otherwise attributed, they are pulled from the pages of Rest.
As we begin 2017 and we look to the future we wish to build for ourselves, it may appear as though we have much to do in order to accomplish what we have placed on our list of resolutions or goals. But in order to be successful in whichever destination we pursue, the concept of quality over quantity guides the way. How is that possible? How can we do less and actually attain more? By tossing what the zeitgeist portrays as the “right way” to achieve success out with 2016.
“Today, we treat being stressed and overworked as a badge of honor, a sign of seriousness and commitment; but this is a recent phenomenon, and it inverts traditional ideas of how leaders and professions should behave under pressure. For most of history, leaders were supposed to appear calm and unhurried; success began with self-mastery and self-control.”
~For more in-depth discussion on each of the points discussed below, be sure to tune in to the podcast.
1. Helps to organize your life
2. Cultivates calm in your life
4. Increases your confidence
5. Increases emotional intelligence and engagement
6. More time is given as boundaries are made firm and clear
8. Live a long, healthy, invigorating life
9. Helps you live a simply luxurious life
“It creates a life that’s rewarding while it’s lived, a life that has purpose and pleasure, work and reward, in equal measure. And that life feels complete and well-spent at the end.”
How to welcome deliberate rest into your life:
1. Make rest a priority
“Taking rest seriously also helps bring more of your life into clearer focus.”
2. Spend only 4-5 hours each day doing strenuous work
3. Establish a consist morning routine
“My morning is all about stilling the outside world so my mind can soar.” —Scott Adams, the illustrator and creator of the comic strip Dilbert
4. Set clear boundaries between work and rest
“A day that starts with work creates rest that can be enjoyed without guilt. When you start early, the rest you take is the rest you’ve earned.”
5. Take regular walks
6. Nap regularly and nap well
“The most obvious benefits of napping is that it increases alertness and decreases fatigue . . . but regular naps have other benefits . . . improve memory . . . [and] consolidate things you’ve just learned.”
7. Enjoy a regular, deep night’s sleep
8. Detach and take that vacation
9. Exercise regularly
“At first, researchers mainly investigated the benefits of exercise for healthy aging, but studies now show that for people of any age, gender, or athletic ability, exercise can increase brain power, boost intelligence, and provide the stamina and psychological resilience necessary to do creative work.”
10. Cultivate a hobby you love and that challenges you
Perhaps when you read #2 on the list above, you said to yourself, nope, that will never happen, not in my world, not in the job I have to do every day to earn my paycheck. And on the surface, you are absolutely correct. But what if you could look at the job you go to each day and redesign your day? What if you could schedule your day so that you did tend to the most strenuous demands at the beginning and then schedule meetings, projects and activities toward the tail-end that allowed you to not tax your mind directly as much?
Understandably, what job you do and for whom you work and the expectations will play a significant role. What I appreciated upon reading Rest is that it validated what I already felt regarding the productivity of my work. When I worked at my best, when I felt my most exhausted, it gave me a reason as to why. It helped me understand my mind, my body and the benefits of what I am doing and what I need to make sure I continue to do and what I can begin to let go of as it no longer serves me or the quality of life I am trying to cultivate.
Saying no to what no longer serves the simply luxurious life you are building becomes easier when we have science to explain what works best, but we also have to understand what type of life we want to build, and when we know that and believe it to our core, the saying of “no” and the incorporation of deliberate rest into our lives becomes far easier. And that is when our lives begin to truly blossom.
We don’t have to look busy to gain approval. The gift of living well is that our lives often will look paradoxical: How can she/they/he live such a life and not be exhausted/stressed and have time to enjoy, play and partake in the pleasures as well? But the reality is, it is indeed possible when we choose to live consciously and thoughtfully.
“A life that focuses on what matters most, makes time for rest, and declines unnecessary distractions may look simple on the outside, but from the inside it is rich and fulfilling.”
Deliberate rest paired with deliberate work is a partnership: “One provides the means to live, the other gives meaning to life”.
“When we treat rest as work’s equal and partner, recognize it as a playground for the creative mind and springboard for new ideas, and it as an activity that we can practice and improve, we elevate rest into something that can help calm our days, organize our lives, give us more time and help us achieve more while working less.”
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Image: Vogue UK