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The Whole Other Level. We all want to get there, but where do you start? Are you so overwhelmed that you feel like throwing in the towel?
In the August series, Not Feeling It, we’re talking about what to do when you’re feeling burned out. If you’re feeling too exhausted to take on big challenges, it could be time for a vacation.
Here’s some good news – taking a break may be more than ok. New York Times writer Jane Brody explores the growing problem of input overload in “Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children”. She interviews clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair who explains, “We’re throwing screens at children all day long, giving them distractions rather than teaching them to self-soothe, to calm themselves down.”
Her observation was born out of a conversation with a grandfather who drove the family carpool. You would think he would be relieved by a lack of constant chatter, but it was just the opposite. He was disturbed by his grandchildren’s fascination with electronics. He sadly said, “There’s no conversation anymore.”
Unfortunately he’s not alone. Dr. Steiner Adair observes, “If kids are allowed to play “Candy Crush” on the way to school, the car ride will be quiet, and that’s not what kids need. They need time to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share them with parents, who can provide reassurance.”
Time to daydream is good advice, no matter what your age. Sitting and letting your mind wander sounds like a frivolous activity, but daydreaming is more than fantasy. It is an opportunity to let go of whatever has been running you. In the process of getting a new vision for the future, turbulent fears, resentments and regrets can be sorted and put to rest.
In the Oscar-winning picture “Birdman”, Michael Keaton plays the anxiety-ridden star of a Broadway show. He’s nervous for good reason. As the writer, director and leading man, he has a lot riding on his comeback. However, the show has yet to come together within days of the opening, and he reluctantly dismisses a cast member.
He’s thrilled when a famous, experienced actor played by Edward Norton becomes available. Or he thinks he’s thrilled. Once the egotistical replacement begins to question the story as well as the structure of the play, the star goes crazy. Norton’s character is surprisingly indifferent to the protests. He casually dismisses every complaint. “Previews are where we learn what the play is about.”
Take the counter-intuitive route this week and give yourself an evening or two to sit and daydream. Like “Birdman”, those closed doors may be showing you what something is all about. The structure you need to build your future will probably come from planning, not pushing, and planning requires open space. A barrage of noise and clutter are the enemies of lasting transformation, which often begins in a whisper of grace. Love your downtime – it might take you to the Whole Other Level.