STOP Everything and Learn How to Relax

We are the busiest relaxers in history.

At the pinnacle of humankind’s development of work-easing machines, time-saving devices, life-prolonging medicine, and instant communication, we still have no free time. And we never will.

What free time we have is filled with television to watch and video games to play and e-mails to respond to and people to call and Facebook to update and instrument to practice and Reddit to upvote and concerts to attend and hobbies to learn texts to forward and gardens to tend and music to hear and books to read and movies to see and things to buy and food to cook and golf to play and blogs to write and we never slow down and we never catch our breath and we never step back and most importantly we never ever ever ever

STOP

and we wonder why we’re stressed and depressed and completely unrested, always waiting, always hoping that someday, someday soon, we’ll have a day where we really, truly, have nothing at all to do, but we hope and pray and wait with deluded minds and hearts for when that day finally arises, crawling out of our self-made mountains of appointments and commitments and hobbies and media and senseless, frivolous, time-eating drivel, we shriek in terror and bash its skull in with the new Blu-Ray release of that show that the critics really liked which we’ve been meaning to watch this weekend to see if it’s any good so we can recommend it to our friends before someone else does.

What’s that? You say that’s a run-on sentence? Look in the mirror: you have a run-on LIFE.

Now I know this post has a lot of words in it, and it’s starting to tug at the corners of your attention span, but please, PLEASE, feed your distractibility for only a moment with this adorable picture of a puppy and then stay with me.

You say you’re great at multitasking? Good. Now I have an even harder challenge for you: zerotasking.

Turn off your phone. Close your laptop. Unplug your TV. Get away from all the many many many things you could be filling your time with and do…nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Don’t think about all the other things you should be doing.

Don’t think about what you’re going to tell other people about this experience.

Don’t try to meditate.

Don’t try to think at all. If thoughts come unbidden to your mind, then give them audience, and if they drift away, don’t try to make them stay or pursue them.

Let life flow around you for a while, instead of through you.

This will be difficult. Time, even more than money, is the chief American deity. We fear being judged as time-wasters, so we bury it under pastimes and obligations, thinking any use of time is better than the risk of wasting it. This is simply not true. Without risking time, you can never accomplish anything.

After you have spent an hour or so doing absolutely nothing, go out and DO. Do, without wishing that you weren’t doing. Give yourself over completely to some great endeavor.

There are times for hobbies and movies and video games, of course. But if you watch a TV show because you have to see the ending or play video games because you must get a better score than everyone else, you’re missing the point. Do relaxing activities because you enjoy them, not out of duty or obligation.

Leave boring books unfinished.

Walk out in the middle of bad movies.

Burn your stamp collection if it’s more stress than stress-reliever.

If an activity doesn’t make you happy and it doesn’t make you better, then just

STOP

and find one that does.

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