When was the last time you just sat, alone, in the quiet? No phone, no tv, no tech of any kind.
No one but just you.
I’m waiting, so you can think…
I can’t remember the last time that I really did nothing. Wasn’t reading or praying or trying to work something out in my mind. It’s hard to just let everything go and not have stress. That’s just how we Americans usually function.
There’s research and some hard evidence that the harried, frenzied, frazzled and worn-out lives many of us lead are costing us more than we can imagine. The price is withdrawn from our bank accounts, relationships, and businesses, and therefore affects every aspect of our lives.
In a recent interview I heard with Juliet Funt, the founder of White Space at Work, she revealed compelling evidence that these overwhelmed lifestyles we live lead to incredibly disconnected and unproductive lives. This is concerning but not surprising. One of the top 3 needs we hear from couples on a regular basis is,
“I want to be more connected, on a deeper level
with my spouse, but life is just so non-stop.”
Many cultures promote the “do more/be more” work ethic which often looks like:
- Being laser focused on your children
- Every family member having numerous outside opportunities to do sports, hobbies, volunteer, etc.
- Providing more for your family than you were given as a child (money, luxury, vacations, and more)
In other words, the one thing or many things we keep doing to be and stay connected and present are actually driving us farther apart.
This causes disconnect and distance between the people we love the most.
According to Funt, white space is defined as thinking time or a strategic pause.
“We’re too busy to be less busy.” -Funt
Most of our lives are made up of LOW VALUE TASKS many that don’t really need to be done. Or said another way, they are tasks that don’t serve the bigger purposes of our lives. Now I can’t determine what those Low Value Tasks are for you, only you can do that, but our readers tell us that they define BIGGER PURPOSES as:
- Staying Connected – Not losing track of family and friends that aren’t in our everyday lives.
- Being a Good Spouse, Parent, or Grandparent – Here again, you have to define “good” but no matter what the definition, it will take space to be that person.
- Being Truly Present – Being focused on what someone is saying AND feeling, not thinking about the text you need to send or the chore that’s not getting done.
We all know one or two great listeners. They are the people we talk with who make us feel important, and they are truly interested in what we have to say. The first person that comes to my mind is Anne. She always, always has a smile and shows intentionality toward me when we’re together. I feel heard, accepted and refreshed even when I’m just with her for a few minutes.
There’s a current group of authors and leaders who teach that the overwhelmed life is one of lost opportunity. That more is NOT better. And the only thing we really possess is the moment we have right now – this minute! Here are some thoughts by Best Selling Author, Greg McKeown.
“What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance?
What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering,
meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?”
“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”
“Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all,
to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the
things that really matter.”
Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Juliet Funt says that we typically don’t know when we’re becoming less sharp and effective because we are surrounded with and dosed by the…
- Dopamine hits we get from the phone pings of social media
- Barrage of email on our laptops
- Caffeine buzz that’s become a wake up till we go to bed habit
These and other stimulants play a huge roll in the life of,
“I never slow down long enough to know I’m exhausted.”
She also teaches that these are the four thieves that steal our space – not bad things in their own right, but they become thieves when pushed further and further.
Drive – turned to Overdrive (keeping everyone so busy they aren’t healthy)
Excellence – turned to Perfectionism (pushing past the point of value to a diminishing return on time invested)
Information – turned to Overload (how much do you really need to know to move forward)
Activity – turned to Frenzy (never having the time to carry on a meaningful conversation)
The result of any one of these thieves is: TIRED – BUSY – SHALLOW. Being tired, busy, and shallow does not promote healthy relationships.
- We pretend to be present with our significant people although we really have nothing left to give.
- We miss time with loved ones because we’re in pursuit one of the 4 THIEVES.
- Time for these connections is lost forever. We can never get back lost opportunities to be present in a meaningful way with someone we treasure.
- Overdrive – Is there anything I can let go of?
- Perfectionism – When is good enough, good enough?
- Overload – What do I truly need to know?
- Frenzy – Who or what deserves my attention?
Can the pursuit of better, deeper, and more connected relationships make your life a more satisfying life? YES! However the question you must ask yourself is…
What can you give up in pursuit of
deeper more connected relationships?
Let me challenge you to give white space a try.
Even just 5 minutes a day – by yourself – to think.
Let us know about your pursuit of white space in the comment section below. Shutting down your brain for 5 minutes to “just be” can be a hard thing to do in the hurried lives we lead. Let’s practice together.