Do Less Than You are Capable

Less than My Best

I've been practicing something for a couple years now:  not doing my best.  

Going for the bronze.  

Saying "No thanks"

Doing LESS than I am capable.  

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    It's crazy & exhilarating..like "cheating" adult-ing in some way. 

     It's also addictive, with surprising benefits... 

    Permission to Chill

    A couple things propelled me to practice doing less.

     

    FIRST:  A colleague.  

    Years ago, I had a dear colleague who lit up the office with warm energy and a true Southern spirit: relaxed, happy, enjoying whatever it is. The memory goes something like:  we started lunch at the same time.  I wolfed down whatever it was, trotted off to the drugstore, called my mom, grabbed a coffee, hit up the ATM, then came back to the office.  Just  around the time my colleague was...finishing her lunch.  I thought, wow, look at how great I am, getting all these things done... when all she did was EAT!  

    Wow, look how great I am, getting all these things done...

    But then, at my desk, I felt a little...off.  The line at the drugstore was long and slow - that's what I discussed with my mom.  The latte tasted burnt, which was annoying because it cost $4.  I worked up a sweat rushing back, and now I felt sticky.  Looking over at my colleague, I thought, hmmm, maybe she has the right idea.

     

    SECOND: Therapy.  

    When the twins were about one year old, I went to therapy for the first time.  One of the therapist's big insights: I was not stopping, even during "breaks."  First off, there were not a lot of breaks: no sleep at night, Jim traveling...I couldn't even get one minute in bathroom!  We hired Elissa - a beloved sitter still with our family - two mornings per week.  But y'all: I jam-packed those precious hours:  groceries, workouts, appointments, car repairs, bank, therapy (hello!), and maybe meet a friend for lunch.  Here's the kicker: especially if I did something "fun" like coffee with a friend, I would add in a bunch productive errands to "earn" that treat.  The result: I was still worn out, even after a morning "off."

    I was not stopping, even during “breaks”.

    My therapy homework:  use one of the Elissa mornings to do absolutely nothing productive.  Only what I want.  Only things that fuel my soul.  And just see.  She gave me PERMISSION TO CHILL. 

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    Examples of "Doing Less" Today

    • Complete one errand in a timeframe I typically complete four
    • Dine out with the kids on a school night 
    • Not sign up the kids for soccer this season
    • Add 30 minute buffers on front/back end of whatever
    • Do Yin Yoga

    As you can see, it's not about jumping to my worst, or totally giving up.  It's more about releasing the pressure gage.  

    Surprising Results

    I am way more interesting and nuanced than "my best" 

    No one keeps tabs on me (except me!)

    The phrase "be the person God intended you to be" resonates with this practice.  Unexpectedly, it shifted away from a practice of "doing less" [than my best] toward a practice of "connecting more" [with something deeper].

    Unexpectedly, it shifted away from a practice of “doing less” [than my best] toward a practice of “connecting more” [with something deeper].

    You can do it!

    I know, I know.  

    The above sounds good AND you agreeBUT _________________.   

    And that is why this yoga practice is here for you when you need it!  

    Thirty(ish) minutes of practicing doing less than your capabilities.  It's a baby step you won't regret.

    PS - Why is Yin Yoga a good practice for Doing Less?

    Yin encourages us to look at assumptions, and cherish the darker side of them.  

    For example, we tend to feel good about being:

    • efficient 
    • multitasking
    • productive

    But in practicing the opposites:

    • inefficient
    • single-focused
    • unproductive 

    We understand the darker sides of the original words:

    • efficient = hectic
    • multi-tasking = not fully experienced
    • productive = churn

    Though Yin, we can practice the "negative" words, and also incorporate their positive sides:  

    • inefficient = relaxed
    • single-focused = quality experience
    • unproductive = allows for "important not urgent" to surface 
    Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea.
    — Mikhail Lermontov
    Heather WiningerComment