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Finding Truth Through Doing Nothing

With my pal Angie Arendt on hiatus (only until the fall I hope), the PauseCast portion of my podcast, “Meanderings with Trudy” is also on pause. In its place, for the remainder of this spring 2024 season, I have decided to spend some time in another book review, this time exploring sociologist and life coach Martha Beck’s book “The Joy Diet: 10 Practices for a Happier Life.”

The first chapter was on finding stillness, which I do think is a pretty important thing to do. Beck’s direction, do nothing, for 15 minutes a day, is where we start. Clear the decks, and sit quietly, walk in nature and just listen, do some art or a craft that stills your mind while busying your hands, but let your mind get real quiet. Do nothing. For 15 minutes a day. And just see what happens.

You know, we all rush around in our lives, from important thing to important thing. Such is the reality of 21st century living. When my sense of importance comes from what I do, and what I am seen to do, then it’s no wonder I will do anything to reinforce that sense of me… I become a “human doing” rather than a human BE-ing.

But what if I didn’t tie my sense of self to what I do? What if, in some universe far, far away, who I am inside of me is what I value, and I know that that inner me, well, she’s pretty awesome. Yeah, not always, but she’s got a good heart, and she’s good enough often enough to make the whole of her shine bright. From this place, would doing nothing be more possible for me? Because in this far away universe, I don’t judge myself by what I do, and nor does anyone else. We all are enough, just as we are.

And when we know we are enough just as we are, then the doing becomes more intentional driven by other things – things like necessity (my kids need to be fed and I’m the one who does that, and I can do it with pleasure not weighted down by a feeling of being burdened); what I value (for example, I give my time, not only my money, to a charity or initiative that matters to me, because giving back to my society is something that is important to me); what I want to do that day (whether at work, play or volunteer, I truly give it my best effort, not just show up), and probably a bunch of other things.

When “doing stuff so I can be seen as of value” is not driving me, I know that I need stillness to stay grounded, connected to what matters to me. A stillness practice, whatever that looks like, becomes an easier habit to hold.

In stillness, sometimes fragments of truth about myself and “who I be” come out of the shadows. Chapter two is all about finding this kind of truth. Beck offers some questions to help find your truth if you don’t just stumble on it while gardening one day during 15 minutes of being quiet.

You’ll find more about these two topics on my podcast, episodes 135 and 136. I hope you’re following along, and if you have any comments, please leave them below.

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