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 one of the most important keys to generative living.
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!
Photo by Tommy Lee Walker on Unsplash