My cat doesn't worry
that he's wasting his life
if he rests all day.
Somehow, resting has become something akin to weakness, or a waste of time in our culture. Very few people get enough sleep and many people feel guilty if they are not doing something all the time. Technology has upped the ante as most people constantly stay connected to friends, "friends" and family. And many work environments expect and demand that employees will always be connected and available to receive and respond to emails.
Even when people have downtime, are they really resting? They are often multi-tasking: watching TV, looking at Facebook, texting, watching videos. Spending time truly resting, lying in a hammock or on the couch reading a book or just daydreaming, taking a nap, lying in the grass or on the beach in addition to a vigorous hike or bike ride, are the exception not the rule.
When is the last time you truly rested? Even on a vacation, do you allow yourself to go off the grid, to sit in a cafe and people-watch or lie on the beach, watching the clouds and daydreaming rather than running from place to place? How did we become a culture of people afraid of missing out? What does that even really mean?
Cats are wonderful teachers in this regard!They have no qualms about lying around resting, in fact the term "cat nap" comes from this quality of theirs we would do well to emulate at times. They play hard and rest well. Our culture has lost this sense of balance, this yin and yang. Yes, there is a lot to do, and always will be. The to-do list has no end and never will. So why not take some time to rest, to rejuvenate, to nurture and nourish yourself today, even right now?
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley