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(Post #4 in the Daring Greatly series, inspired by and in response to Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly:  How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.)

“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is ‘I didn’t get enough sleep.’ The next one is ‘I don’t have enough time.’”

– Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money (as quoted by Brené Brown on page 25 of Daring Greatly.)

I’ve managed to write three posts inspired by Daring Greatly before even getting to Chapter One, and it’s not looking like my pace is set to quicken. Every time I sit to read, I get through only a handful of pages before I feel unignorably compelled again to write. Which is a lovely feeling that I plan to ride as long as it lasts

Chapter One of Daring Greatly is all about scarcity and the way it relates to vulnerability.   I’ll have more to say on that in a future post, but today I’d like to speak a bit about the messages we say to ourselves and to others about what we think we don’t have or get enough of. The quote above struck me so deeply, as we are all familiar, to a greater or lesser degree, with those thoughts of not getting enough sleep or having enough time. But I hadn’t really considered before the psychological ramifications of starting the day that way, what it means for the soul to begin the day at an articulated deficit.

And then I began to question my own deficits, realizing that it wasn’t actually sleep and time and the like that I was missing in a day, but instead what these things represented, what their lack meant I was also lacking.

It’s not the time, but what I would do with it that counts. Not the sleep, but how I’d show up in the day if I were well-rested.

So when I say that I didn’t get enough sleep, what I’m really saying is that I don’t feel enough clarity and energy to be as present and participatory in this day as I’d like.   And maybe that I’d feel more pampered and cared for if I got to sleep in. So instead of going on and on to myself and/or others about all the sleep I did not get and how incredibly tired I am, I might consider finding ways in my day to feel those things I’m not feeling enough of today. Maybe I can give myself a five-minute dance party to shake myself awake, or a mini stretch session to ease myself into the day. I could treat myself to a latte instead of a coffee or wear some cozy cashmere socks and a soft pretty scarf to boost my spirits and feel special and comforted. And I would be placing my emphasis on adding goodness in instead of dwelling on a lack, which pretty much everybody I admire, in one form or another, agrees is a good thing.

Similarly, when I say I don’t have enough time, it’s not actually time that I want at all. I want to feel connected to others, and when I’m overwhelmed with tasks it’s difficult to feel that connection, to find and foster it.

I want to feel beautiful and in the presence of beauty, but when I’m over-scheduled, there is little occasion to linger, to let beauty unfold, to polish myself up.

When I’m over-committed and ever-rushing, it seems as if there’s no space for feeling and building a peaceful hum and meditative calm, for therapeutic exhalations and exquisite dreamy lounging, for communing and grooving with the seat of my soul cradled in my core. When I’m pulled in too many directions, I hunger to feel like I spend my time on the things that matter most to me, not what others need or want from me. I crave feeling unencumbered, authentic, and living in harmony with my goals and desires.

Instead of perpetuating stress by harping on my degree of busyness, perhaps instead I can make a point to take each moment head on, to look each person I interact with in the eye and pause, to fully engage with them for the short time we are in contact, and to really pay attention to my surroundings so that I might notice what’s sitting in plain sight to treasure. Maybe you can do this too.

Because the time is being spent anyway, you know.

There’s no harm in filling it with itself, letting it be lush and ripe with itself as you cup it tenderly in your palm and breathe it in.

My own biggest worry regarding this is that engaging fully with the people in my day will actually take too much time, which sounds absurd, but does have a sort of validity. I find that when I bring it with people in full engagement mode, it often draws them out. Which is awesome, except when you only have a minute but you’ve just opened the portal of communication. If you’re like me, you feel bad for seeming to invite someone in only to slam the door shut. But you also might feel resentful that you’ve got to go but the person just keeps going through the portal, rooting you down by continuing to chat you up.

The solution is not to avoid such interactions, but instead to develop a trust in your ability to set a boundary and end an exchange when you need to, without guilt or feeling vulnerable to the whims of the world. And if it seems like a tough thing to do, just think of how nice it will be to shed the armor of busyness and skip lightly through your day amidst so many more personal connections.

As men’s life coach and all-around truth-speaker Mike Hrostoski said in this blogpost:  “Stop worshiping busy.”

We don’t need to define our worth by the filled minutes of our day. And we don’t need to emphasize those filled minutes to let others know why we can’t do something that they want us to do. You are worthy as is, regardless of how much you do in a day, and you are not obliged to fulfill anyone’s request, no matter how much time you technically do or don’t have available. It’s all about choice. You have so many choices in a day to make, so many opportunities to affect and create the goings-on of your life.

What choices will you make today?

Today, I choose a day filled with connection and joy, aha moments and play, hugs & kisses and slow-spreading smiles, sweet smells, whole-body laughs, and love, love, love.