Labor and Rest

I’ve observed over the years that people tend to be happiest when they are being productive. That said, the balance between labor and rest is one that strikes me as particularly important.

This balance is an elusive one as most people who are productive tend to be “go-getters” or “Type A” personalities, famous for their achievements and infamous for their inability to rest. They get the job done at all costs, despite what others do to support or detract from their goals.

On the other extreme are those who achieve little to nothing because of an overemphasis on rest. This is the “couch potato” who lives life vicariously, with little to nothing to report at the end of an uneventful life.

In my mind the ideal lies somewhere betwixt the two. Not to be confused with the “play hard, word hard” mentality, the reasoned approach to labor and rest comes as the result of a sensitivity to what is most fitting from one moment to the next.

It is very easy to get caught up in a drive pattern where you lose sight of the rest stops. Missing the opportunities to come to rest, you eventually run out of gas or fall asleep at the wheel, typically at an inopportune time. So where’s the balance point?

To begin with, you are wise to look at life as a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself according to the necessities of the moment. Circumstances may require that you go for broke in a situation or in your life, but even those whose lives require a more-or-less constant sprint can find rest along the way. Don’t miss the opportunities. You’ll regret it later.

Second, it is helpful to remember how to rest. You can still be doing something while taking rest. Rest is rarely just doing nothing, in fact, the majority of rest comes as you lose yourself in something you are doing. Seen this way, rest is not necessarily the absence of work. In fact, many people labor more when they are on vacation or trying to relax than they are when they are at work.

I, for example, find the daily opportunity to concentrate my thinking on inspirational themes tremendously restful, despite the fact that it is a daily responsibility. Rest comes not as a result of carving out “more time for me,” rather, it comes as you are engaged in purposeful, generative or creative activity.

Rest may be a day off, a conscious breath or two or listening when you would normally speak. Rest allows you to recharge your batteries, and everyone, I repeat everyone, has numerous opportunities throughout the day to rest no matter how hard he or she labors.

Your ability to identify points of rest in your day will extend your life, multiply your effectiveness and deepen your appreciation for the world around you.

Rest up and have a great Labor Day!

14 thoughts on “Labor and Rest

  1. Kam

    Awesome post! I recently started incorporating some restorative yoga poses into my regular stretching routine – restorative yoga utilizes passive poses to open the body up. It is amazing how regenerative it is to do something ‘actively’ passive even for a minute or two. Thanks for your thoughts today!


  2. Reina

    I took the time to be still and rest under a tree a few days ago. This I can say I never do! I found that once I had quited down that there was so much going on around me. I could actually hear the wings of a cardinal as they sliced through the air as it flew. It was not a long span of time, but the time was beyond valuable and left me with a sense of renewal and peace that is still with me today. What a wonderful post to remind us that renewal and rest can look different for everyone!


  3. Kai

    Gregg Hake’s Blog is both restful and energizing on a daily basis. It’s been a real boon to my sanity, creativity and productivity. Thanks for making a difference in this reader’s experience!


  4. Mitch

    Glad I caught your post early enough to make the most of the holiday. It is so true about people returning from vacations more exhausted. Reminds me of the quote about those who “labor in vain…”


  5. Estelle

    Thanks Gregg. Today’s post, along with your recent themes of mindfulness and appreciation for the spirit of life lend themselves to a total makeover in my experience of what rest is and where the opportunities for it may be going to waste throughout the day.


  6. ceraluce

    I’m sure many will agree with me that your “rest time” in the form of creating daily inspiration posts is much appreciated. When our hearts are genuinely interested in and actively contributing to the well-being of our fellows, that does create the stage for a perfect balance of activity and regeneration. Thanks for your daily cues on how to do this!


  7. DeeDee

    Thank you for the reminder that even a small moment of focusing on the in and the out breath can bring a much needed balance to one’s experience.


  8. Chris Lentz

    It really hits home about getting caught up in a drive pattern and losing sight of the rest stops. It has led to unnecessary “burn outs” where I am not available mentally or physically at a critical time. Many have suffered at my hands for this – kids, spouse, co-workers, creative projects… So the question “Where’s the balance point?” is one I take to heart this morning, and you’ve given several keys here as to how I can identify where I’ve been missing my opportunities.


  9. Foxglove

    Yeah, it’s all about how you use your daily/weekly/monthly allotment of energy – and it’s interesting to see even how what you eat influences this too. And what you take in, in the form of things that stimulate your mind and emotions. Keep the balance, and balance will keep you! Happy Labor Day my friend


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