Updated: Sep 20, 2018
Personally I feel a lot of pressure to be constantly doing. But what about the down time in-between all the things I’m doing. I’m a couch potato and I love it, but all the time I spend not doing anything in particular can sometimes take a toll on my self-worth. And I’m getting kind of tired of that.
Social media has been a major factor in this. Social media is basically a comparison engine. You post your best moments, and everyone you follow does the same. But while you’re only being given somebody’s highlight reel, you’ve got all your own outtakes and bloopers. Many people I’ve spoken to have told me about how it makes them feel inadequate, and fuels self-esteem problems. There’s lots of ways that it can fuel it, but I’d like to focus on one in particular. In every social media post, somebody is doing something. Nobody’s out there posting about how comfy their couch is on any given day. And as you scroll through your feed, you aren’t “doing” anything. You’re not at the concert, out with some friends, working out, or whatever else it is people post about. But why is that a problem?
Obviously it’s good to do things. Working, hanging out, and pursuing your passions should always be a priority. And sometimes the answer to these feelings is to become more engaged. To make the decision to start that new hobby or to text a friend to make those plans. But in all those times when you’re not “doing”, what’s the harm? Maybe we need to change our attitude about time spent not doing, an attitude which is emphasized by our culture.
John Kabat-Zin, in his book Wherever You Go There You Are, criticizes doing nothing. However, he praises the intentional act of “non-doing”. The difference, he says, is intention and awareness. By adopting a slight change in mindset, we can radically change our experience during these times. Most of our moments of doing nothing are spent waiting for something to happen. And while you can fill your life with more happening things to be present and engaged for, you could also be present in those moments of non-doing. Instead of thinking about the list of things we’re not doing or that our friends are doing, we could instead look around and focus on our present moment. Most of the times I’ve tried it it’s led to a beautiful, peaceful moment. Of course, there are the times where the doubt lingers, but it’s in those times that I try to change my circumstances and do something about it.
Just to clarify, nobody should necessarily be feeling guilty about posting their experiences on social media. I think we could all benefit from changing our mindset about non-doing moments, and being more aware of how social media can influence us and our attitudes. I’ve caught myself being jealous of friends more and more recently. Instead of being jealous of them, I’d like to be happy for them. And all the while engaging more in the things I love as well as being aware of quiet moments instead of letting them pass me by.
If you're looking for a nice way to be more present or mindful, try meditation! There's tons of guided meditation videos on youtube that are really good, and a 5-minute "body scan" can be really relaxing. If you have a meditation app or video or whatever you really like, let me know!