Dial it Down (Part 2)

"Dial it down (part 2) by Lisa Hess (Catholicmom.com)

Image credit: Pixabay.com (2016), CC0/PD

Last week, I shared three ways to use lists in our service, particularly in times of transition. This week, I have a few more ideas on finding the balance between frenzied and relaxed, but first I have something to share.

I was going through my inbox earlier this week (the numbers are declining, but not as quickly — or easily — as I’d like) when I stumbled across a piece called “The Hard Work of Being Lazy.

Boy, could I relate.

Here’s the portion of the article that was in the newsletter, but you can read the whole piece.

The Hard Work of Being ‘Lazy’

At times, perhaps without quite knowing why, we slip into a resolutely ‘lazy’ mood. We’re simply not able to do anything. All we have an appetite for, it seems, is to loll on the sofa.

In such states of mind, we’re rapidly liable to be stigmatized as profoundly (and incorrigibly) ‘lazy’ by friends or – more painfully – by our own conscience.

But, to consider the matter from another perspective, it might be that the real threat to our happiness and self-development lies not in our failure to be busy, but in the very opposite scenario: in our inability to be ‘lazy’ enough.

Outwardly idling does not have to mean that we are neglecting to be fruitful. Busy people evade a different order of undertaking. They are practically a hive of activity, yet they don’t get round to working out their real feelings about their work. They are lazy when it comes to understanding particular emotions about a partner or friend.

The next time we feel extremely lazy, we should imagine that perhaps a deep part of us is preparing to give birth to a big thought. As with a pregnancy, there is no point hurrying the process.

I love that last part — the idea that what we label laziness is merely preparation for the next big thing — a preparation that perhaps should not be rushed.

I was all set to be practical in this week’s post, and to focus on things like establishing a routine (so we get into the habit of being productive) and selecting and pursuing daily goals (so we can check things off the list), but this piece has made me reconsider (once again) whether or not productivity is always the best end goal.

So, with the idea that “laziness” is perhaps something more — and something to be valued — here are three (more) ways to dial it down.

Value down time. As it turns out, perhaps there’s more going on there than we think. At the very least, we’re recharging for what comes next. On those days when everything seems like an uphill journey, maybe hang back and stop pushing so hard.

Be aware of triggers. Can you pinpoint particular activities and/or times of day that trigger sluggishness? For me, it’s mid-afternoon. No matter how many years it’s been since I worked in an elementary school, my body still seems to be on that schedule. If I sit down in a comfy space between  2 pm and 4 pm, chances are good that a nap will be the next thing on my list. This is fine if I need the nap (and, as a night owl, many days I do), but if I want to avoid the nap, I need to avoid the trigger.

Be flexible. I struggle with this one. When I get into the zone, or have a long list prepared and I’m ready to dig in, I’m very resistant when another idea comes along, even if it’s a better idea. When I find myself being too rigid, I need to remind myself what my big picture priorities are. An endless checklist does not usually make the cut.

It’s no secret that balance is elusive; that’s why one there’s no one magical set of guidelines that helps us to achieve it. Only by tuning into ourselves instead of our lists can we take the steps to be both productive and peaceful, finding that sweet, sweet spot between frenzied and relaxed.

Copyright 2019 Lisa Hess


About Author

Lisa Lawmaster Hess has contributed articles to local, national and online publications, and blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, The Susquehanna Writers and here at Catholicmom.com. She is the author of two non-fiction books (Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce) and two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is a lecturer in psychology at York College and enjoys singing with the contemporary choir at her church.

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