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The Fine Art of Doing Nothing

Sometimes it’s hard to be alone, especially alone with our own thoughts

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“…people never are alone now. We make them hate solitude; and we arrange their lives so that it’s almost impossible for them ever to have it.” ~ Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley

In this era, it’s becoming harder to be alone, especially alone with our own thoughts. Dr. Timothy Wilson, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia, along with other researchers conducted an experiment with student volunteers. The students were given two options: For 15 uninterrupted minutes they could do nothing.

Or, they could give themselves a small, electric shock. Roughly 67% of the men and 25% of the women in the experiment chose to give themselves small shocks, even though earlier, many had proclaimed that they would pay money not to endure such a shock.

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Anxious for Anything To Do

Why did they opt for the shock? They became increasingly anxious for anything to do over the course of the 15 minutes. Aha, you say! These were probably millennials for whom a 15-minute stretch of doing nothing is virtually impossible.

As it turns out, the participants consisted of adults recruited from a farmer’s market and from a church. They acted in much the same way that you might expect of millennials. They felt anxious and antsy when left alone for a 15-minute stretch with nothing else to do but be with themselves.

The question  for each of us is why is it becoming so hard to take a few moments throughout the day to simply do nothing? Have we become such a driven populace that we cannot even spare a few minutes for ourselves? Do we not recognize the peace of mind that we can experience when we’re not fully occupied every minute of the day?

Weaning Yourself

If you feel that you are constantly seeking to optimize every minute of the day, and perhaps are oversubscribed, over-informed, and overwhelmed, here are interlaced ideas that you can put into practice:

Start small. Rather than attempt a long stretch of doing simply nothing, see if you can last for 60 seconds or maybe 120 if you’re feeling brave. It’s best to attempt this after you finish a task, and feel good about your accomplishment. Marinade in your positive feelings.

Perhaps before you go to lunch or return from lunch, or before or after taking a break, why not allow yourself a little time to pause and, well, simply do nothing.

If you have a 15 minute break, where is it written that you can’t spend 60 seconds at your desk doing nothing, take a 13 minute break, then spend the last 60 seconds at your desk, again doing nothing.

Expand Your Ability

As you build more and more confidence in your ability to take some time out with no thoughts or activities in mind, strive for three to five minutes. If you arrive at work early, you could spend such time in your car with the radio off, not checking your cell phone, and not doing anything, other than simply sitting there.

At your workplace, maybe you can spend three minutes undetected in a conference room, corporate library, rooftop terrace, or elsewhere.

At home, where you have more flexibility, could you attempt a short weekend session? This should be no problem. During the weekday, it’s understandable that you seek to efficiently commute to and from work, although even on weeknights it might be possible for you to carve out a few minutes. Think of all the times you’ve been online, or you flick through the TV channels, and how aimless that can be.

Reinforce What Works

As time passes, giving yourself some stretches here and there where you don’t have to do anything can become reinforcing. You have the opportunity to take a deep breath. You get a chance to reflect, or to clear your mind. You have time to visualize.

Even if none of these things happen, you still get a chance to slow down. Any way you look at it, it’s a good proposition.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



 
 
 

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Life

With Representatives Like Kelly Daughtry, We Can Take Back America

Daughtry is a soft-spoken woman who gets things done

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When President Trump takes office next January 20th, he’s going to need a cadre of strong-willed Congressional representatives. It’s not enough to simply retake the White House, we need the foot soldiers with the unshakeable resolve to restore America.

In North Carolina’s 13th district, one candidate is firmly rooted in the values that made this country great, and will make it great again. Her name is Kelly Daughtry and, quite frankly, the nation needs many others like her.

Raised in rural North Carolina and the daughter of a U.S. veteran, farmer, lawyer, and entrepreneur, Daughtry has been a practicing lawyer for the past 25 years in Johnston County, where she makes her home. She’s been in the trenches and is not skittish about the slings and arrows that come with taking bold, conservative positions for what is right.

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Clear Positions on Vital Issues

Daughtry is exceedingly clear on where she stands and on what will improve the lives of American citizens. She is a vigorous supporter of law enforcement and decries ‘de-fund the police’ movements wherever they arise. She understands that, by and large, the men and women in law enforcement are dedicated, hardworking individuals who, in many instances, put their lives on the line.

Similarly, Daughtry supports the U.S. military and our veterans. She knows that nations around the world with rogue leadership wish to do us great harm, and that we must maintain a strong military at all times. Not coincidentally, a strong military is the best prescription for peace.

On the border issue, Daughtry recognizes that the Biden Administration is firmly committed to swamping our country with illegal aliens. Why? Because the U.S. Census count doesn’t focus on U.S. citizenship, only the number of residents per county and state.

Hence, Democrats can gain a 20-seat advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives by continuing to flood our nation. This ploy is precisely why Biden and company have brought lawsuits against border states seeking to protect themselves.

The drugs, the crime — the murders — and the bursting budgets of towns and states trying to cope with the onslaught of illegals should never have happened in the first place. Daughtry knows what needs to be done, and done immediately.

Reversing Biden’s Reckless Agenda

Daughtry will go to work on restoring our nation, dismantling Joe Biden’s reckless agenda for America. She understands that Biden’s policies towards China in particular, and the bribes he has taken, have been nothing less than devastating for hard-working Americans and for our national security.

Most notably, she is firmly opposed to the Chinese Communist Party and their representatives who are seeking to buy farmland throughout North Carolina as well as every other place in the United States.

Biden’s out-of-control spending has particularly hurt North Carolinians. Farmers have taken the brunt of the punishment. The unending inflation that we’ve faced for 38 months also has dealt a crushing blow to North Carolina small business owners and families in general. One of Daughtry’s first agenda items will be to help steer our country back towards fiscal sanity, which in turn will have a direct impact on the cost of groceries and gasoline.

Americans First

Like President Trump, Daughtry understands the importance of putting Americans first and of safeguarding or voting procedures, elections, and indeed what it means to be an American citizen. Of note, she has no misconceptions about the differences between men and women and will work to stop the malarkey that the Left imposes on us every day, with their “56” types of genders.

Daughtry is a soft-spoken woman and in her quiet way, gets things done. If Donald Trump had an army of Kelly Daughtrys, the country would be on firm footing in relatively short order. She knows what hard-working Americans want and need, and is exactly the type of politician that North Carolina must send to Washington D.C.

It is not an exaggeration to say that in Wake, Harnett, Johnson, and Wayne counties in North Carolina, as well as the entire state and entire country, the 2024 election will be the most important in our lifetimes. This has been said about other elections at other times, but considering the damage that the Democrats have wrought on America, the time is now to reclaim our great nation and, with the likes of Kelly Daughtry, we can.

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Life

Provocative Questions to Get You Moving

What would make you pause and think about what’s really important?

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Suppose I asked you four questions to make you pause, think about what’s really important, perhaps take some action steps, and get you moving in a positive direction. What might I ask?

Here are four such questions:

* What would you do if you truly only had six months to live?

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* What would you read if you could only pick six books for the rest of your life?

* If you could return to any age what would it be?

* If you could live anywhere other than here, where would it be?

 

By way of example, here is each question with my own answers to help stimulate your thinking:

What would I do if I truly only had six months to live? I would visit everyone who ever mattered to me one more time; visit all my childhood haunts; visit three or four tourist destinations in the world that I’ve wanted to see; eat like an incredible pig; parcel out my assets carefully and accordingly, safeguard my daughter’s financial future and well-being to the best of my abilities; and donate many items to charity.

If I could only read six books for the rest of my life, they would probably be The Timetables of History, Childhood’s End, The Call of the Wild, The One Hundred, From Dawn to Decadence, and The Culture of Celebrity. Runners-up would be The Demon-Haunted World, Crime and Punishment, Moby Dick, MacBeth, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and The World of Our Fathers

If I could be any age what would I be: 38, because at that age I had the optimal mix of capabilities and faculties, unbounded potential, and unbridled enthusiasm. My career as an author was beginning to bloom and amazingly I hadn’t yet been on my first of 45 cruises.

If I could live anywhere other than here, where would it be and why aren’t I there? The places I could settle include Asheville, NC; Austin, TX; Monterrey, CA; Sausalito, CA; Tucson, AZ; Las Vegas, NV; Vancouver, British Columbia; London, England; Paris, France; Vevey, Switzerland; Montreux, Switzerland; Bruges, Belgium; Helsinki, Finland; Gothenburg, Sweden; Stockholm, Sweden, and any place where it is spring, birds are chirping, and large lakes invite you to swim.

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