What does a couch potato have in common with a workaholic?
Neither a workaholic or a couch potato understands the true value and benefit of well-spent leisure time. It may seem strange, but our modern culture really encourages these two extremes:
- Overworking, over “doing”, over-striving for goals that always live in the future
- Under-Doing, under-engagement in tangible acts of wholehearted living today
On the one hand we are brainwashed to think that our value lies primarily in what we do, and then in what material things we buy with the money we’ve earned doing more and more of what we do to earn it. On the other hand, we also easily fall into the inertia of passive forms of entertainment that disconnect us from the energy and joy of true living. Despite living in a most prosperous nation we have a very poor grasp of the importance of leisure time used wisely.
120 Episodes of Lost Are Calling...
I've been looking at this issue myself recently. My husband and I turned sixty this year. We are beginning to investigate / plan what life might look like in retirement a few years down the road. Do we know who we are without our work identities? Who will we be without that as a major focus? I cut back on work a year ago. The shift was more more disorienting than I realized! If I am not careful, I'm in danger of spending the free time gained watching 120 episodes of Lost! To my fellow baby boomers, I recommend reading How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free:Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor. We need to prepare for increased leisure time psychologically as well as financially! Interestingly, the principles mentioned in this book would benefit anyone at any time during a lifespan. Perhaps it should be read at the beginning of one's career.
The Seduction of Technology and the Problem of the Receding Carrot.
Technology, TV and computers are very seductive. They have great benefits, but can also suck the life out of our lives. (TV was not named "the plug-in drug for nothing.) Technology can disconnect us from living in the beautiful three dimensional world. It can keep us isolated and disconnected from the presence of lively, inspiring, joyful people. This is the fate of a couch potato. Constantly chasing achievement, dollars or affirmation through overwork is like chasing a carrot that keeps outdistancing and eluding us. This is the treadmill of the workaholic. We have to make conscious choices to reclaim our right and ability to live wholeheartedly.
The good news?
- It’s energizing and fun when we do. It’s as simple as making the time to go to a local theater production with real-live actors from your community. Taking a pottery class. Organizing a potluck. It’s as enjoyable as driving into the country to see the fall leaves and smell wood smoke.
The Couch Potato / Workaholic Challenge
At the beginning of the week look at your schedule. (I recommend using a weekly planner, even for the unemployed.) Block out areas of time for balanced, wholehearted living:
- Work, taking care of business, taking care of laundry, etc.
- Exercise, Embody Thyself
- Social Connection / playful relationships / community service
- Benefits of Hands-on creativity
- Silence, solitude, spiritual nourishment
If it's not scheduled, it's not serious.
(Need a reality check? Take the quick Blivet Challenge Quiz here.) Find out what is happening this week in your community. Farmers Market? Art Show? Musicals? Lectures? Sign up for the catalogs and alerts from all your local art centers, colleges, libraries, health centers, etc. Check out other possibilities for creative getaways on this Pinterest Board. Send away for the catalogs. Will you send yourself to summer camp next summer?