Every now and then, I enjoy a good episode of Dr. Phil. Recently, a rerun with a guest, Dr. Robinson, caught my attention. Dr. Robinson said, according to his research, stay-at-home moms have close to 30-40 hours’ worth of leisure time each week. Naturally, the women on the stage were quick to differ. But Dr. Robinson’s study defined leisure to include activities such as:
- Organizational: Volunteering, clubs, church
- Entertainment/Social: Events, movies, parties
- Recreation: Sports, hobbies, travel
- Communication: Media, conversation, reading
The Oxford dictionary defines Leisure as the use of free time for enjoyment. Therefore, Dr. Robinson’s categorical list of “leisure time” is an accurate representation of leisure activities. His list includes activities that people participate in for enjoyment.
Dr. Robinson also states that we like being busy. I concur that many people view being busy as an accomplishment. The “supermom” is idolized as someone women wish to be. “How does she do it all?” everyone wonders. This desire to be busy is not exclusive to moms, though; women of every status feel a pressure to do it all. In addition, men are just as guilty of loading their schedules to fit it all in.
We see many bloggers, Instagram influencers, and people on other social media platforms promoting images and stories of perfection. The projection is unattainable, yet we still try. We choose “busy”. We don’t say “no” to invitations when we know our schedule is already heavily booked. We don’t say “no” to kids’ interests and drive them to multiple extracurricular activities at night after working all day. Plus somewhere in there is laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. Now, I’m not saying to stop any of these things, I’m simply asking you to recognize them as choices. But, mindfulness and happiness is all about slowing down and being grateful for what you have in the present. And, to someone who has, perhaps inadvertently, chosen “busy”, this is appealing.
I often struggle with the advocacy movements across the world. On one hand, I believe that each person deserves a voice. On the other hand, promoting issues at such a large scale sometimes puts ideas in people’s head that otherwise wouldn’t be there. For example, anxiety. Argue with me if I’m wrong, but it seems super trendy, or even the norm, to “have anxiety” right now. The incorrect use of the term belittles those who have a debilitating daily struggle with it.
Mindfulness, yoga, and meditation have become a trendy remedy. Yoga is more than just taking a daily class at your local gym, meditation is deeper than a five-minute audio file on an app, and mindfulness is more than just being aware of your surroundings. In a world where self-gratification is instantaneous, meditation and yoga are life-long practices that you will benefit from more over time. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we know that we can change our mindset due to neuroplasticity. It takes 21 days of constant practice and intense focus to change or form a new habit. This is not a quick fix.
Sometimes “a painting is more than just the sum of its parts,” as Juli’s father in Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen says. These practices have so much more depth to them and are part of a larger picture. As if these Eastern practices are the Westerner’s band aid.
Yet, they’re still effective despite a surface level or superficial application of them. Also, you do need to start somewhere. This, perhaps, is what seems to appeal to the masses. It feels good to take five minutes each day to reflect. It feels good to stretch your body and build strength. It feels good to be present in your daily life. However, it can be argued that by adding one or more of these practices into your daily schedule you are simply adding to your busy.
Adding these practices is fine, I practice yoga and meditation as well, but it needs to be paired with a change of lifestyle which, if I am being honest, is something I am still working on. We are always a work in progress. I believe if you are feeling the stress of a busy life, you should remove some busy, Simplify aspects of your life like meal planning and recurring events such as birthdays. Gift yourself the opportunity to have moments within your day to pause and be grateful. In my opinion, this is what made Marie Kondo so popular – simplicity. Do you agree?