My 2019 New Year’s Resolution was to be more relaxed. 2020 thought that was a terrible idea and came up with all kinds of reasons why I shouldn’t relax, and yet still, I do.
Relaxing is essential for our health and relationships. When we are tightly wound, we don’t sleep as well, we aren’t as kind and we can’t be thoughtful about how to take care. When we can’t relax, everything feels urgent, important and we can’t make decisions about what matters to us.
When we relax, we are less stressed and more present. When we relax, we can make decisions from what’s within us instead of what’s around us.
How to Relax: the secret to feeling better, knowing what matters and getting your life back.
There are many methods and strategies to relax … breathe, sit still, read a book, take a bath, say no, meditate (the list goes on and on) but there is one secret to living a more relaxed life, to becoming relaxed.
The secret is less.
Care about less.
At a 2019 conference, Author, Elizabeth Gilbert shared this story, The great mythologist, Joseph Campbell, who spent his entire life studying the religions of the world, was asked, “What is the definition of sacred?” and “How do human beings make something sacred?” He responded, “It’s the simplest thing in the entire world, and you do not need a priest for it, anybody can do it. Here’s how humans make something sacred: You draw a circle around it and you say everything inside this circle is holy. It’s sacred because you said so. That is called a boundary, and a boundary is not a wall. A boundary is not something that you hide behind. A boundary is a golden circle that you draw around the things that matter to you, and you say everything inside this circle is sacred. If you treat it with respect, you are allowed to come in, but take your shoes off and bow because you are coming into the center of holiness here. And if it’s not, and it’s outside, then what do we say? We say, “I do not care.”
This is a reminder that we simply cannot care about everything and everyone.
The way we dilute our time, energy and hearts trying to do it all is a disservice all the way around. We are burnt out, stressed out, worried and nothing gets our full attention. When everything matters, nothing does.
If you think that it’s selfish to care about fewer things, consider intention vs. impact. We have tremendous intention by caring about everything, worrying about it all and if we have any strength left, attempting to to do something about everything.
Intention is nice but it is impact that makes a difference. We can have greater impact on our personal health, the happiness of our families and communities and moving the needle on projects and passions we care about when we do less.
When it comes to the circle you create, Gilbert says, “You get to decide what is sacred. The sacred thing inside the circle can be your time, your creativity, your loved ones, your privacy, your recovery, your values, your mental health, your activism, your joy, your very heart and soul. You yourself can stand at the center of a scared circle that you drew around YOUR VERY OWN BEING, and say,”Everything inside this circle is holy.” Not because you think you’re better than anyone else, but because you have humbly accepted stewardship over the divine and mysterious gift of the universe that is YOU.”
Doing it all is simply too much.
We can’t care about all the email, all the projects, all the school papers, all the Zoom calls, all the requests, feedback, invitations, screaming politicians, headlines and future concerns. It’s simply too much.
Instead, from a very relaxed place, we wish them all well and come back to our sacred circle.
Relaxing is a practice. Even though I live with less, and do less and care less in so many ways, I still get overwhelmed. I lose sight of what matters. I watch too much news or worry about something that is completely out of my control. I forget that it’s not my job to answer every single email in my inbox. When I notice that I am overwhelmed, I turn to more less. I keep coming back to less.
Forget balance, it’s time for priority.
Choose less and consider impact over intention.
We know how to relax but if we want to be relaxed, we must draw our circles and create a place for love and rest.