Addicted to being Busy

My friend Amy recently declared she is eliminating the following sentence from her daily routine: “I’m soooo busy!” She wants to do this because she realizes that she repeated the complaint every day, multiple times a day. I’m pretty sure she’s also caught herself uttering things like, “This day has been insane,” or “Can this day get any crazier??” and even, “I’m exhausted.”

What a brilliant idea and a great exercise in self-awareness. Isn’t it time to take “busy” off of its pedestal? Because what are we really saying when we complain, out loud, that our lives are filled to the brim with tasks and responsibilities? Maybe it’s that we matter, we are so needed that there’s not enough of us to go around, and that we are important.

sufism istanbul whirling dervishOkay. It’s nice to be needed and great to be valuable to your job, your family, your community. But we can accomplish many of these same things without the whirling dervish imagery.

Let’s be honest here. When we use words to describe our lives beginning with ‘busy’ and moving up the scale toward ‘hectic,’ ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘crazy,’ we aren’t painting a very pretty picture. In fact, by using heightened vocabulary we are adding another layer of stress to our day. Because even if our to-do list has been pretty manageable today, it’s almost a reflex to rate our day in terms of how productive we’ve been. The busier the better for many of us.

What if we could be happier and equally or more effective doing less? Here are a few thoughts on how we can make this happen.

  1. Let’s start with an awareness that busy isn’t necessarily better. Think of one or two people who you truly admire. Really…call them to mind… Do they run around like chickens with their heads cut off? Chances are they appear calm and in control while leading meaningful lives. It’s not just because they have an assistant to do the grunt work, it’s more likely they understand the heavy price of being too busy.
  1. The second step is to take a close look at your priorities. Your list may include nurturing your children, expanding your business, worshipping, meditating, volunteering for a cause dear to you, creating beautiful things, earning more money, or training for a marathon. What’s important here is that you get a clear handle on what matters most in your life. Focus  time and energy on those top several items, and then let the other things fall away or at least assume their appropriate place in your life.
  1. The third strategy is very simple. Learn to say no. Once you’ve established your priorities, this becomes MUCH easier. Try it. It’s amazingly freeing.
  1. beware the barrenness of a busy lifeAnd finally, the last step to lessen overwhelm and stress in mindfulness. As you tackle the inevitable tasks throughout your day, focus on what you’re doing in this moment. Banish thoughts of what else is on your list. Get this done and do it well before you allow your mind to jump ahead. Multitasking doesn’t work. And wouldn’t you rather end your day knowing you kicked butt on the four things you did, rather than doing a passable job on the complete to-do list?

Retrain your brain, reframe your thinking, revisit your priorities, and banish the busy!

 

MORE:

The New York Times, The ‘Busy’ Trap. June 30, 2012. by Tim Kreider.

Huffington Post, Let’s Stop the Glorification of Busy, March 23, 2014. by Guy Kawasaki.

 

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Wabi Sabi – Embrace Imperfection

wabi-sabi-pot3Wabi Sabi – I love the way the words sounds almost as much as the concept it represents – It’s a Japanese term (reminiscent of “wasabi”) that doesn’t translate neatly into English. It represents an aesthetic or worldview that celebrates the imperfect, the impermanent, and the incomplete. I like to think of it in terms of beauty, such as the uniqueness of slightly off-center ceramic bowl, or a still-vibrant flower whose petal edges are beginning to brown.

I constantly try to apply wabi sabi to my life and my coaching. It helps me to remember that there is value, beauty and immense worth in each of us, though none of us is perfect. It reminds me not to put my dreams on hold until I somehow reach that elusive goal of perfection. It allows me to live with myself when I gild the lily (last night’s pizza), lose my temper with my kids, or indulge in gossip. (I could go on and on.)

As a coach, I’ve chosen health and wellness as my niche not because I’ve got it all down cold, but because it’s something I’m passionate about. I love to get to the bottom of diet and fitness trends, try healthy recipes, and learn all I can about mindfulness, positive psychology and health. This blog is my vehicle to share what I learn with a broader audience so that we can all move towards a healthier lifestyle.

e57da547de4a1a76c6058c07aa091bd4You will never be disease-free, trim, fit, ageless, altruistic, balanced, AND have perfect blood pressure. Nor should you aspire to be, in my opinion. We’re all a work in progress. We must accept, or someday even relish our imperfections. Embrace wabi sabi. Meanwhile, focus on the specific things that have greatest meaning to you and work to be the best you can be in those areas.

Beauty of the Bowl

What’s not to like about a complete meal that’s easy to throw together, satisfying, robustly healthy and delicious? A popular trend in plant-based eating is “The Bowl.”  It’s one of the most versatile meals, requiring no recipe. It’s simply the bounty from the farmers markets mixed in with leftovers from last night, dressed up with greens, and tossed with a little flavor.

Below are a bunch of ideas on the types of nourishing foods that work well as elements in your favorite bowl. Mix it up! Try new things! The beauty of the bowl is that it’s a low-fuss meal because it’s all about what you have on hand.

Super Food Bowls

Photo from The Vintage Mixer

Grains
Wheat berries
Quinoa
Brown / Black or Wild Rice
Whole Wheat Pasta
Lentils

Legumes
Cannellini beans
Black beans
Chick Peas / regular or roasted
Edamame

Fruit and Vegetables / raw, steamed, roasted
Cucumbers
Snap Peas
Brussel Sprouts
Carrots
Red Pepper/ raw or roasted
Beets
Sweet Potatoes
Zucchini
Butternut Squash
Tomatoes
Jicama

Coconut Dragon Bowl

photo from The Tolerant Vegan

Greens
Micro greens
Baby Arugula
Baby Kale
Romaine Lettuce
Spinach

Nuts
Pumpkin Seeds
Walnuts
Pecans
Sesame Seeds
Cashews
Pistachio

Dressings
Tamari
Dash of hot sauce
Vinaigrette
Hummus

Here are a few links to some of my favorite cooking blogs that have inspired my love of Big Bowls!

Oh She Glows!
– and check out this post for the fantastic Lightened Up Tahini-Lemon Dressing
Sprouted Kitchen
The Tolerant Vegan
The Vintage Mixer

 

Clutter and Weight Gain – There’s a Connection

Have Nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautifulDo you spend a lot of time looking for misplaced items? Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff piled on your countertops or inbox. You may hesitate to invite friends over because you’re embarrassed by the state of your life, I mean house. Being chronically disorganized can be a huge source of frustration. Clutter turns your home (and office) into a stressor instead of a safe haven.

You may not realize that clutter and carrying extra weight are often connected. For starters, the stress of being disorganized can lead to emotional eating. Food is a distraction from the organizational tasks we’re avoiding. If we are feeling crummy about the state of our kitchen, how can a cookie or two make us feel any worse?

Clutter can also be a sign that we have a hard time parting with THINGS. For some people, stuff carries a lot of sentimental meaning, so it’s tough to give it away. These feelings are linked to our attitude towards food. Do you clean your plate even if you’re already full? Do you turn to food for its emotional power rather than it’s nutritional content?

Professional organizers know that disorganization isn’t simply a space problem. Buying more storage bins is not the answer for someone who’s chronically disorganized.  When we decide to get serious about decluttering and maintaining our space, that commitment will spill over into our self-care. Taking time to tend to our home shows that we value it, just as making time to prepare good food, exercise, get plenty of sleep, demonstrates that we recognize our own worth. We recognize that our health and happiness are important.

In a NY Times article A Clutter Too Deep for Bins and Shelves, professional organizer Lynne Johnson noted she often sees efforts for weight loss and getting organized go hand in hand. “I think someone decides, ‘I’m not going to live like this anymore. I’m not going to hold on to my stuff, I’m not going to hold on to my weight,’” she said. “I don’t know that one comes before the other. It’s part of that same life-change decision.”

Smarts and Stamina Online ProgramI too see this phenomenon among my coaching clients who want to lose weight. This idea of an underlying connection between different aspects of self-care fascinates me. In fact, it’s the central idea behind my upcoming workshop that helps participants explore the interconnection between sleep, food, mood and exercise in their own lives. In the course of the six-weeks, we learn that if you have an obstinate problem in one part of your life, tackle a related area. In this case, if you’re having a tough time losing weight, confront your clutter with a commitment to letting things go that you no longer need.