Most New Year’s resolutions are about making ourselves better. And we translate that into a goal or an activity – Something that you are going to do.
I am going to suggest that we resolve to do less. Yes, do a lot more nothing. Goof off. A new years’ “Rest”olution.
I am talking about something different than wasting time / passing time / killing time (we sure have a lot of expressions about that). This is about intentionally creating downtime to rest, imagine and dream. To explore your inner self and let ideas percolate. In silence, let the mind wander and wonder.
It is a mind recess. Let it play. No judging, brooding or analysis.
Now in my life as an artist, it can seem like I have a lot of down time with reduced employment hours and more painting hours. And I sometimes feel compelled to be more productive and more income producing. As if making art is not enough or is devoid of ambition.
The web is full of videos and advice about how to be more efficient and make more money. I have received recent emails and newsletters about productivity tips. (How to create and follow Productive Systems, mind sets and hey, wake up an hour earlier!)
But trying those and failing or being drawn into those thoughts, comparisons about not being as successful or productive as others was not making me any more satisfied.
Art should be about enjoyment. And the “more” paradigm does not trigger satisfaction in me.
There is an Alan Lightman essay called “Prisoner of the wired world” in which he talks about our obsession with speed and an accompanying impatience, an overload of info and stimulation with an increased pace of life. And thus a loss of silence with too much background noise and a loss of privacy.
Centuries ago, technology was associated with improving the quality of life and the human condition. Now it is an end in itself and we have been conditioned to be obsessed with consumption and wealth.
He says to allow yourself to “waste” time and Nourish your inner self.
In 1930, John Maynard Keynes famously predicted that within a century, economic growth would mean that we would be working no more than 15 hours per week . In fact, goods and services produced per hour has doubled since 1950 but we work more hours (instead of using productivity to allow more free time.) So there should be a way to have more “me” time.
Here is a new book positing that you get more done when you rest. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/12/books/review/arianna-huffington-rest-alex-soojung-kim-pang.html?em_pos=large&emc=edit_bk_20161216&nl=bookreview&nlid=74235980
(Although if rest becomes an item on our to-do list and we use it only to become more efficient, I think we miss the point.)
Oliver Burkeman says the better you get at managing time, the less of it you feel that you have. (See https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/22/why-time-management-is-ruining-our-lives.)
He points out that you don’t get creativity for free and quotes Tom DeMarco “You need people to be able to sit back, put their feet up, and think.”
So let’s resolve to slow down and stay in the present. More reading and exploring, more pondering and more rest.
“Maxine” cartoon by John Wagner
Girl daydream: JGI/JAMIE GRILL/GETTY
Wander mind photo: Michael C. Corballis
Goofy is property of Disney