Sthira and Sukha

Lately, I’ve noticed something with my friends and clients…

People fall into one of three categories:

  1. People who are good at rest and call themselves lazy.
  2. People who struggle to rest and are at risk of burning themselves out.
  3. People who have somehow discovered this magical thing we call balance between effort and ease.

Okay, it’s possible I’m oversimplifying this, but hear me out. Do you see yourself in one of those three categories? I am a solid category 2 person. Rest is a challenge for me.

I think we have a problem as a society. As a culture. We value productivity and work and effort and struggle. What we don’t value is rest. Talking about how busy you are is a way of bragging. 

I do so much! I never have any time for anything! 

Did you know that there are places in the world where this is not the norm? Where how long and hard you work is not a point of pride? 

Some cultures see having a nap as a sign of how much you value your health and how hard you work. In Japan, it is common to take naps in public places or even at the office, for example.  

So for those of you who are good at rest, I have news for you: you’re not lazy. If you can sit down at the end of the day and watch a little TV or read a book, good! If you like to run a hot bath and soak in it for a while…yes! You are not lazy. You are good at rest in a culture that does not value rest. 

For those of you, like me, who are category 2 strivers…we need to begin to see the purpose of rest. Want me to give you a good reason to take a load off….

Some studies show that sleeping 7-8 hours a night increases productivity by as much as 20%. 20 bloody percent! Scandinavian countries routinely rank among the most productive, likely because they often limit work to 40 hours per week.

Working non-stop, whether it’s at work or home, is not the best way to get things done. 

It’s just that simple. 

Here’s a concept I find helpful when trying to convince myself what those of you in category 3 already know…

Sthira and Sukha. 

These are Sanskrit words that translate to effort and ease. Effort and ease. Doesn’t that sound nice? Balance between these two concepts is the goal. Not all effort, like a category 2 storm. Not all ease like a category 1 calm. A nice balance. Both. 

I encourage you…in your work, in your life, in your day, in your week, in your year…..Sthira and Sukha.

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