by Joyce Landry
Summer is in full swing – have you relaxed yet?
I was drawn to two recent articles in the New York Times recently – one in the business section and one in the travel section – both saying essentially the same thing: We, as a society, are having a hard time winding down. And this applies especially to our vacations!
The articles included several recommendations – like ditching the smart phone, relishing the anticipation of a holiday, or reading a book called The Importance of Being Lazy: In Praise of Play, Leisure, and Vacation by the professor of business ethics at Loyola University, Al Gini. But these days, some people are even more stressed by the mere thought of disconnecting, and stuck in an endless loop called “weisure” – blurring the boundaries between work and leisure.
To get a glimpse of what life was like before 24-hour connections, go see the movie Moonlight Kingdom. The opening scene shows three children sitting on the floor of their living room, quietly playing checkers while listening to a phonograph playing classical music. Without a word, the filmmaker conveys that this is not 2012. This film, set in slower paced 1965, captured my attention in more ways than one – it was quirky, it was sweet, and more than anything, it was evocative because it portrayed a gentler time of a bygone era. Perhaps….
I would rather choose to think there is something we can do about this – something we can individually change about our perspective that will alter our experience with time. And surprise, surprise, the answer just might come from Google!
About a year ago, I read an article about Google’s employees being offered a course on meditation – and being encouraged to build this skill for the purpose of reducing stress, increasing well-being, heightening focus and creativity, becoming more optimistic and resilient, and just being more successful.
Google’s own in-house guru, Chade-Meng Tan (who’s title is Jolly Good Fellow), just finished his book about Google’s experiment with mindfulness meditation, called Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace). With tons of praise from mindfulness masters – like the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, and Jon Kabat-Zinn – it provides a path (with fun graphics) towards becoming more thoughtful. And yes, settling our monkey minds that result from too much stimulus will allow us to experience time as vast and plentiful.
As a long-time meditator, it did not surprise me to see that one of the disciplines suggested in this book is to reconnect with nature. Simply walking slowly, taking in the sound of birds, and appreciating your environment can have a profound affect on your well-being. Water plays a big part in this too.
One of my favorite pastimes on cruise ships is to find a quiet place near the railing while the ship is at sea – to just gaze into the vast expanse of water and watch the horizon. It’s amazingly soothing, and possibly, one of the biggest reasons why people enjoy cruising – even if they are not fully conscious of this. In fact, one of our clients, a major technology company, likes having their meetings on a ship because it’s a built-in environment for relaxation, and relaxed minds are more open and creative.
I’ll end with an easy-to-follow tip from Search Inside Yourself. When you feel all stressed out and squeezed for time, do these three things:
And I’ll add a 4th… dream about being at sea.