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Posted by Michael Finkelstein | December 18th, 2017

Doing Less

One of the hallmarks of people who are not feeling as well as they’d like is described as the feeling of being overwhelmed. For some, this means not having the energy to do the things they want; and to others, this manifests as a drain on the muscles of motivation that are required to stay on top of all their responsibilities and commitments, whether that be at home, at work or in the world at large. Some people are sick outright, suffering from one chronic ailment or another. Not only are individuals feeling like this, but collectively, we are exhausted. Indeed, much of what we see in the world today, from the corruption to the chaos, is a result of this too; for the ability of the human stewards of this planet to maintain the necessary balance for all of life to thrive requires clarity of mind and the physical force, i.e. will, to follow the convictions and the principles of social justice, both essential for the greater good.

Making matters worse, though often emanating from a good place, is the advice of experts on how to get over the hump and on the downslope of a peaceful easy life where everything comes together in some utopian transformation. Ironically, the advice comes in the form of “shoulds” and “to dos,” suggesting, if not compelling us, to add more to our already full plates. And, if we don’t, of course, the consequences are dire…..more pain, more suffering. My wife and psycho-spiritual compass, Robin, uses the word Shilt to expound on this….the insidious combination of guilt and shame. Sure, we have responsibility to be helpful, to ourselves and humanity, but it matters where the motivation comes from, and, I would submit, it really matters if the efforting involved is counterproductive. In other words, if fear or anxiety commands our effort, it loses much of its value and can actually perpetuate the individual and collective dysfunction.

So, I’m postulating here that an alternative is to do less not more. To focus on fewer things not more. To start with and stick to identifying one’s personal purpose and passion as the single most important, perhaps the only, thing that is required. Some might call this “living in one’s truth.” I see it as the face of integrity, unique to each shareholder, but offering the most certain path to the recovery of our collective health and well-being. Using the body as a metaphor, a heart cell doesn’t need to worry about digestion. Similarly, if each of us didn’t worry so much about the roles other people have in this collective process, we’d each be freed up to be the best heart cell we could be. And, that’s the idea. Working smarter not harder.

This, of course, requires an embrace of community and the release, to some extent, of our tendency to remain hyper-focused on self. To the individual, though, the idea is to know oneself and to trust in a process that, while emerging, is still the weaker voice. But, I remain hopeful that we can do it and fully emerge from the oppression of tyranny and the self-serving interests of leadership that comes from the paradigm of limited resources and competition, promulgating products that sell us a “quicker fix.” No. This capitalistic opportunism is misleading us. Similarly, many of the gurus and supplement salesman, are selling us stuff. What we need is less, not more.

So, during this festive period, and with the New Year up ahead, a time people often reflect on the past in order to consider redirecting their course, I leave you with that thought of doing less; but, starting with a process of self-reflection as to what kind of cell you are. From there, consider how you make the best of that for the new year and beyond.

I wish you well. Indeed, I wish us all well.

As always,

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