Do you remember, as a child, your mother walking into your bedroom, and in a sing song way, greeting you with “rise and shine?” Well, I certainly do. (Even if I am uncertain about whether it actually happened, or if I borrowed the memory from American TV) Something about that phrase is just so uplifting. It seems to promise that the day will be full of sunshine and positivity. All you have to do is wake up and it will all be waiting for you.
Fast forward 30 years, and the phrase has been significantly altered. Instead of being told to shine, Grind is the order of the day! The sweet and uplifting message has been bastardised and now it speaks of aggression, drudgery and toil. Certainly not something I want to wake up to every morning.
Yes, yes, I will admit, three years studying English has meant that I read more into words than is merited at times. However, it’s not just these three little words I take exception to. I have a problem with the entire philosophy of “grinding.” As we stand, half way through 2017, we are in the grips of an epidemic of personal effectiveness. We are in constant competition to see who can be seen to be working, if not the hardest, then certainly the longest. It wasn’t too long ago, that the only thing getting people up at 5am was either a bout of insomnia, or an early morning flight. These days it isn’t unusual to hear people say they wake at 5am each and every morning, because “there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.”
Enough hours for what? Well, there’s work of course, and if you want to get ahead, you have to be the first to arrive and the last to leave. There’s the gym, if you aren’t spending hours a week there, are you even trying? There’s books to read and Podcasts to listen to, all informative of course, because you wouldn’t want to waste time on anything that’s just for fun. There’s meals to be prepped, FitBits and MyFitness Pals to be sated. Meditation and mindfulness are a must. And naturally, Social Media isn’t going to keep up with itself, now is it? God, I am exhausted just typing all that, nevermind doing it!
The crazy thing is, not so long ago, this would have been a fairly accurate description of my life. Work was bedlam and long hours were the norm. I was in a new role, so everyday there was something new to learn. I was in college as well. Even the gym was a constant source of stress. I was either tying myself up in knots trying to get there, or beating myself up for not going. I spent all of my very limited “leisure time” reading educational books and listening to education Podcasts. Were they instructional and informative? Yes. Were they what I needed at the time? Absolutely not.
My mind was under constant pressure, and just like anything else subjected to grinding, it began to wear down. My sleep was the first thing to suffer. Not surprising really as all the nuggets of information I had crammed into my brain fought amongst themselves during the night. The next thing to feel the effects was my creativity. I had no desire to experiment with food or even to talk to my lovely readers. Everything became a chore. Just as it is possible to over train the body, I had over trained my mind.
I know I am not alone in this. My news feed is awash with images of other Grinders. I see them on a daily basis, “hustling” from dawn to dusk, fervently ticking off the never ending to-do list, so that they can be seen to #winningatlife. Let me tell you something guys, if you constantly feel exhausted you are you doing it wrong! If you feel like your life is dictated by an arbitrary list of tasks, you are doing the exact opposite of winning. Who exactly are you competing with anyway?
Of course it’s important to work hard. If you have goals, and most of us do, it will take effort to achieve them. But this needs to be done in a balanced way. It is okay to do things just for fun sometimes. Not only is it okay to relax, it is vitally important. Rest and relaxation are just as crucial to your health and well-being as your nutrition and fitness. When it comes to your mental health, I would argue that R&R is even more important than anything else.
I like to learn lessons the hard way, and this was no exception. I still have a lot going on. There are still a million things I want to achieve, and I will always have moments of feeling like I will never get it all done. However, I am learning just how important it is, to do the seemingly unimportant things. Don’t underestimate the cathartic effect of a chat with your friends, a warm bath, a cuddle with your puppy or simply doing nothing. Strolls don’t have to be just about step counts, and reading doesn’t always have to be “educational.” Trust me when I say that anything, which makes you feel refreshed and revived, can never be a waste of time.
Life is constantly making demands of us, and just like any vessel, if not replenished we will eventually be emptied. So, it is up to you to decide, do you really want to grind? Or would you prefer to shine? Be well xxx