Everywhere I look (on the interwebs) everyone seem so damn motivated. Why is everyone so busy?
Maybe it’s just the virtual circles I travel in: online entrepreneurs, writers, coaches, digital program and product creators, and the like—they seem so driven.
One study shows the effect Facebook has on our perceptions of other people’s lives. The study results suggest that Facebook is a depressing landscape for most people. Spend a little time in the feed (or on Pinterest and Instagram), and it seems like everyone is living a charmed life of business victories, relationship bliss, and foodgasms on a daily basis. It’s tough for a mere mortal to keep up.
Further, the Facebook study contends that most people share their good news, with lots of gilding, and that they heavily edit the bad stuff. Disappointing news, less-than-angelic children, and a creep-of-a-spouse rarely land in our respective feeds.
For heavy Facebook users, the results are depressing. These users compare their seemingly lack-luster lives to those whose lives they imagine are more fun, successful, and satiating.
So we push.
Online entrepreneurs try to achieve the purported big money launches that the web superstars seem to do with ease. We follow we share, we kiss the virtual ground these Internet demi-gods tread—all in the hopes that our efforts, and some of their magic, will rub off on us.
We have created a monument to achievement.
In our zeal for success that resembles the success of others, we become disconnected from what it would look like for us.
We can mimic, we can copy, we can quest, but we can’t find authentic contentment in these pursuits. Our efforts are pale imitations of someone else’s path. A path strewn with the dreams of others will never fulfill us. And, as long as we stay caught up in the celebrity and sparkle of other people’s lives (however illusory), we will never know what it is that we want.
This multi-tasking late-nights-work-all-day-every-day madness has cut us off from our heart’s true desire. What do you want? What is your unique idea of success? Can you sit still long enough to find out?
As a remedy to this madness, I’m celebrating underachievement—and I invite you to join me.
To counter to the high-stress, high-achievement orientation of so many people that we see in the media, the online world, sports, etc. I propose a stepping back, a settling down, and a rejection of work-mania. And in its place, I suggest that we just be.
Stop doing for a while and just listen. Sit quietly without judgment and observe. What is this life you have, and how do you want to live it?
What would your life look like if you stopped comparing yourself to others?
Think back to when you were a child. What did you want to be? I wanted to be a paleontologist (I was told, at the ripe age of 5, that paleontologist is an unsuitable career choice for a girl), among other occupations. What stuck was writer-poet. And the dinosaur hunter in me? That’s the traveler, the lover of mysteries, and the armchair scientist fascinated with the origin of things.
So, what about you?
Did you want to be a cowboy, a mermaid, or a ukulele player? How can you use those early dreams to inform your life now? Maybe ukulele player is out, but your love of music is still high. Where can that love take you?
If you can stop long enough, get quiet enough, to hear that small inner voice, I bet you’d learn a lot about what makes you happy and what success would look like if you were living your own life instead of following in the footprints of others.
But how do you start, you ask?
By sitting still just five minutes a day. No pretzel positions, no mantras (unless you want one—email me—I’ll create one just for you), and no designer meditation togs. Just you, your cat (or dog), and a chair, rug, or zafu if you’re fancy.
A few tips and suggestions:
- Let anti-achieving be a celebration of being. There is no goal other than to be still and quiet.
- No judgment—who cares what goes through your mind, I sure don’t, and you don’t need to worry about it, either. Just observe whatever comes up. “Oh, donuts, okay, that’s interesting.”
- Five minutes is plenty of time to start your just being practice. You can build up to ten minutes when you’re ready. You’ll know when. You won’t need a guru to tell you when that time has come.
- Try your just being practice early in the morning within a few minutes after you wake. That way the brain hasn’t taken control, and it will be less of a struggle. If you can’t do that, sit in the afternoon, or evening. It doesn’t matter that much, just try to sit at about the same time each day. Your body and brain loves routines, and this is a good one.
Are you getting the picture? It’s not complicated. It’s so simple, this being practice. Deceptively simple. But you are ready; I feel it.
I’m celebrating being instead of doing. Won’t you join me?
[originally published Nov. 2013]