The Art of De-Hustling
Normalizing rest in a world of hustlers
I used to feel guilty when I rested. Ok, honestly – I still do a lot of the time. But I’m working on it. If I took an afternoon to just chill, sit at home and watch TV or read a book, I couldn’t really enjoy it. Because almost as soon as I began, guilt would creep in.
“You should be doing something.”
“You’re not going to make anything of yourself if you don’t DO anything.”
Woah. Those were the things that were going through my head and I had no idea. I remember mentioning this to a coach I was working with, kind of in passing, and she stopped me.
“That’s not really normal,” she said.
I tried to justify it by chalking it up to my great work ethic and the fact that I’m really good at creating things in my life. Things aren’t just going to come to me: I have to work for them.
But when I started to look at this more, I realized how unhealthy it was:
How our society has put immense value on what we can DO or what we have to OFFER, on how hard we can HUSTLE and how PRODUCTIVE we can be.
For me, this pressure along with a lifelong anxiety I have always had that “time is running out”, manifested itself as the inability to relax. I literally could not rest without feeling guilt. If I ever got sick and was so laid out that all I could do was lie on the couch, un-moving, it came as a sort of relief. Because it was mandatory rest that I surely needed, and I had no choice in the matter.
When my body stopped working properly, however, I had to make some adjustments.
After countless doctor’s appointments trying to figure out what was wrong, I began an adrenal reset: the process of re-balancing my adrenal glands, whose function is to produce hormones that help the body control blood sugar, regulate blood pressure and to react to major stressors like illness and injury.
Part of this re-balancing, which was prescribed to me, was to lie with hot water bottles under me, where my adrenal glands were, and just rest. A tall order for someone like me, but it had been prescribed to me from a counsellor, so being the hard worker that I was, I was going to be productive at resting.
That was a few years ago, and since then, I have made a major effort to rest more. This includes listening to my body and taking rest days when it asks for it. If ever I feel guilt creeping in, I remind myself that rest is integral to productivity. It’s integral to my happiness and my life force. Is it really challenging for me? Most days, yes. But it's also gotten easier. Especially when I see the good it does for me.
The idea that rest is laziness is simply fear based. It comes from a place of lack; a place in us that believes that we are not enough just as we are.
It’s something a lot of people feel, at some place within them, and it can play out in different ways: this is just one of them. This idea that we must be doing something to have value in this world is simply not true. It’s what causes people to get on a path and GO GO GO without really knowing where they’re going, because they never looked up and took a moment to look around and see where they were. It’s treading water for the sake of making waves: and it’s not really getting them anywhere. It may be giving them a temporary sense of purpose, but that goes as soon as they stop.
We all have purpose; that’s a given. But sometimes it takes taking a break, taking a breath, looking around to feel into what that deepest, most innate purpose is. And spoiler alert: this can change, too. So, if you don't stop and check in regularly, chances are you are off course.
Taking rest and making it a priority can be challenging, especially when trying to explain it to a world still living for the idealistic American dream. I remember talking to a girlfriend who is also a creative about our careers and our projects at the time. I explained to her that I was just focusing on resting. She couldn’t quite grasp it, mostly because it just wasn't where she was at at that time. We were talking about how important it was to make priorities because sometimes, as a creative, we have a lot on our plates and it’s hard to figure out the next move.
“But, you’ve got to have a priority, even if there are other things going on, too.”
I explained that my priority was rest. Full stop.
She tried explaining it to me a few more times before the conversation continued in other directions. I'm not sure she understood exactly what I meant, but that's ok.
It’s a bold move in a world who values action. But it’s my belief that action is most efficient when it comes from a state of ease and peace, which only comes from taking proper rest. In my experience, it's a lot easier to get excited and be productive when I myself am feeling excited and full, rested and alive.
So, I’m going to continue to become a champion of rest. It will likely be a lifetime of perfecting the act (for myself, mostly). But I’m committed and I’m naming it as my art: the art of de-hustling.