The Being & The Doing EPISODE 3
The Most Important Well-being Habit
Busy busy busy is the 21st century mantra. It seems like if you aren’t busy these days, there must be something wrong, or unproductive or downright lazy about you.
The truth is that learning how to slow down for a few moments and take a productive pause can be a game-changer in your life. In this episode Laurel shares why pausing is the most important mindfulness exercise (or well-being habit) to build and how to get started.
HIGHLIGHTS YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS
- The end of absence 3:08
- The cost of not pausing 4:52
- 4 things that happen when you pause 8:44
- How to begin 15:07
- This episode’s homework 17:38
* A full transcript of the show is below on this page.
Here’s the link to the page for your Being & Doing homework. It includes a little guide with some ideas about making time for both action and awareness. Download it HERE. When you grab it you will also get my weekly tips about living life the mindful way.
Here’s a blog about why pausing is essential to well-being.
The book I mentioned was The End of Absence by Michael Harris. Definitely a good read about the digital world and how to have a healthier relationship with technology.
Want to begin to create a habit of pausing? Try the daily mindfulness exercise of taking a moment to reflect? With the best of intentions sometimes it’s hard to do it all on your own. I’d love to help you so please check out The Power of Pause.
THIS EPISODE’S HOMEWORK
Something to think about:
If I paused for a moment, what would happen?
Your answer will likely reveal one of two things: the benefits you could enjoy from pausing, or the degree to which busyness has control over you.
Something to try:
Add a pause to something that is already a habit:
Before you eat
When you get in the car
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Love to hear what you have to say – please take a moment to rate, review and/or leave a comment or question.
Want to hear more of The Being & The Doing podcast or subscribe so you never miss an episode? Check out the podcast episode archive here or subscribe on iTunes or wherever you enjoy your podcasts.
CREDITS: The Being & The Doing podcast is produced by Neela Bell. Voiceovers by Jason Harris. Music is Good Morning Sunshine by Yoav Alyagon and Firefly by Scott Buckley.
Full Transcript of the Show
Introduction: Welcome to, The Being and The Doing. A Podcast about well-being and the practices that help us have more calm, focus, purpose, and presence in our busy lives. Here’s your host, author, and life coach, Laurel Vespi.
Laurel: Hey, lovely ones welcome to Episode 3 of The Being and The Doing. Thanks so much for taking the time to tune in in today’s show. I’m going to share what I believe, is the most important well-being habit. In fact, I think if you don’t do this, you’re going to continue to struggle with any other habits you want to create. Curious? Okay, let’s dive in.
I bet that you promise yourself that you are going to take a break when you get everything done. Yeah, when I’m finished all of these things that I have to do, then I’ll take a break. And the problem with that is, you’re never going to get everything done. Because I bet you also have a to-do list, whether it’s a written down to-do list or it’s a to-do list in your head. You have a list of all the stuff that you need to get done.
And the problem with our to-do list is we put too many things on them. We underestimate how much time it’s going to take to do any one thing and so by the end of the day, we haven’t got everything done and then it rolls over to the next day. So you never really get everything checked off. Too many things on the list, continually moving them forward. And that’s because we live in this busy, busy 21st century and busyness now has become sort of this badge of accomplishment. That if you aren’t busy, well, maybe there’s something wrong with you because I’m busy, everyone else is busy, why aren’t you busy?
So there’s this sense of identity that comes with busy. That we look at other people and if they aren’t busy, maybe we judge them a little bit that well, maybe they’re just not very productive, or maybe they’re even a little bit lazy. So in all of this busyness, we tend to be always on, always plugged in. And there really seems like there just isn’t a moment to breathe.
Do you feel that way? There just isn’t a moment to breathe in my day. So I think before we go any further, let’s just take a breath. First, just have a really nice big exhale. Just exhale out through your mouth. Just let everything go. And now just take a breath in just in the way that you normally, naturally breathe. Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose and just breathe in and then breathe out.
You know, it wasn’t always this way where we felt like we didn’t have a moment to breathe. There’s a great book called, The End of Absence, written by a Canadian author named Michael Harris. And he talks about our before and after technology experience, what it was like before technology.
And now what it’s like after technology and that we’re increasingly eliminating what he calls, moments of absence, what I call pauses. And he makes a great case for the more that we embrace technology and all of its gifts, the more that we fail to realize what the cost of that is. Now, he’s not anti-technology and neither am I but something is shifting in how we go about our day.
Whenever there is a moment of pause, we rush to fill it. Think about waiting for an elevator, you push the button and then you look at your phone or waiting in a line like waiting for anything. That we take these moments of pause that exists and we fill them up with something from technology. Michael Harris actually says that there’s no free time when you carry a smartphone. And I know I disagree with him a little bit. There actually is, we’ve just chosen to probably unconsciously just skip over it.
I think most people don’t take those, the time to pause because they think they just don’t have the time. There’s too much to do, you have that never-ending to-do list with things that are going to roll over till tomorrow. But here’s the thing, pausing is actually an essential habit of well-being.
When I talk about the ‘being’ and the ‘doing’ of life, pause is at the heart of ‘being’. It’s also the key to doing this, without regular pauses. It’s hard to stay on track with what is most important in your life. When you don’t have a pause, you’re on autopilot and your actions become habitual and unconscious and sort of your disconnected mind and body.
But when you tap into those pauses then there’s this opportunity for awareness. Awareness of your thoughts and feelings and then your actions are what you’re doing can be more conscious and more intentional and more responsive. I like to call it ‘pausibilities’, that there are possibilities that are created when you pause. Do you like that word, ‘pausibilities’?
Let’s talk a little bit about that, the ‘pausibilities’ or the power of pausing just from a practical perspective. When you pause, you can actually get stuff done. Not necessarily get more stuff done, but you can get important stuff done. Because there are a lot of things on our to-do list, but not necessarily are they the most important things. And so when we pause, we can actually be more conscious and intentional about getting the important stuff done.
Now, I think we have to look at pausing in your day as an investment and being able to continue, rather than as a reward for being done. Yes, I’ll take a pause when I’m done. No, we take a pause because it’s an investment in being able to continue getting the most important things done.
But there’s another heartfelt reason to pause, which maybe is even the more important reason to pause because it allows us to pay attention to the moment to the moments the moments of life. You live your life in moments. You don’t live it in hours and days and weeks and months and years, you actually live it in moments, experiencing what is happening in the moment.
Mindfulness, I’ll call him Guru kind of the father of what we think of as the modern mindfulness movement. Jon Kabat-zinn. He says sometimes that you only have moments to live. And when you first heard that you think ah, you know, my time is up. And that’s not exactly what he means, although there’s truth in that. We think we have all of the time in the world and really, we have no idea how much time we have. And so, we should be paying attention to the moments and what we’re doing today because we have no idea. But really, when he says, you only have moments to live, he’s talking about that experience of we live moment to moment. We remember moments, we don’t remember hours and days and weeks and months.
I’m going to leave a link in the show notes to a blog that I wrote about this. What I call, Essential Habit of Pausing.
And it touches on the idea that pauses come in two forms; natural ones and transitional which are sort of the transitional breaks in our days. They just occur naturally as we’re moving from this to that activity or intentional pauses which are ones where we plan ahead to create a pause at a specific time. So you can check out that blog post, you’ll find it in the show notes.
But whether it’s an intentional pause; one that we’ve sort of plan to take or whether it’s a natural one that occurs with natural transitions in our days, there are four things that can happen in a pause. The first one is you can take a breath. You can breathe because pausing, even for a moment to take a few conscious breaths, really allows us to center ourselves in our bodies. As most of the time, as we’re in our busy day and we’re working through our very long to-do list, we kind of become disconnected from our bodies. It’s all about our heads and thinking. And so taking a few conscious breaths is the simplest and the easiest way to return to the present moment.
When you breathe in a conscious way and you’re paying attention to that breath, you get to see that there’s actually a pause that occurs in your breath. So just notice now is your breathing when you inhale, there’s a little pause that happens before you exhale. And your body knows how long that should be but there’s a pause. And then you exhale and there’s another little pause at happens before you inhale again.
If there wasn’t a pause you’d be, inhale- exhale, inhale- exhale and that’s just hyperventilating. So in our natural rhythm of breathing, whatever speed you’re doing it at, whatever the way is natural for you, there is actually a pause, an inhale- pause, exhale- pause. And when we stop and we take that conscious breath, it elicits a relaxation response in our body. It tells us okay, just allow the whole system to calm down and it lets us kind of step away from the stress response that we are probably having when our days feel really busy. That’s number one.
Number two is when we take a pause, we can ask really great questions. We pause to ask powerful questions that can help direct what it is that we’re doing. Questions like, what do I need right now? Or, what’s the best use of my time and energy? Imagine if you paused periodically through your day and ask yourself a question like that.
One of my clients uses her pause to ask this great question. What she says is, she pauses first and asks, what is important here? Imagine if you stopped and did that, what is important here? Because it just will bring you back to the moment and help you to align what is going on with what is probably important because, we don’t always spend our time doing what’s most important.
Remember we’re plugged in all the time, and we’re distracted a lot.
The third thing that you can do in a pause is to notice. You notice what is happening within you and around you. And that information that you get when you pause and notice can help to inform your choices.
So if I pause and notice, what is happening within me? Physically, what’s happening is maybe I need to get up and move, maybe I’m hungry, and maybe I’m thirsty. But I can also notice what’s happening for me emotionally. Wow, I’m irritated, I’m frustrated, I’m anxious, I’m feeling excited, I’m feeling really content just being able to notice what’s happening. And we can notice what’s happening around us because when we’re really busy, we tend to function with blinders on because we’re just so focused on us.
I’m focused on me, I’m focused on my list and focused on what I have to get done. And so, when I pause for a moment and just look up, whether that’s look up from your phone or even just look up from what it is that you’re doing, to look around and see that, wow, we actually exist in a big community of people and animals and we’re in nature. And just being able to step back and see ourselves in the midst of that.
And the fourth thing that can happen in a pause is we can shift. So pause creates this great space to shift thoughts and energy. And why do we want to shift thoughts and energy? Because what is currently happening for us, might not actually be serving our goals and priorities in the best possible way, maybe I’m in a bit of a negative thinking cycle. Wow, when I pause I can maybe shift that into something that’s more positive more optimistic. I can ask a powerful question.
Shifting usually is paired with that asking a powerful question like, is what I’m doing right now helpful? Is what I’m thinking right now helpful?
Maybe my energy is a little lethargic because I’m feeling overwhelmed with what I have to do. Oh, maybe I can shift that energy or maybe my energy is a little bit more agitated because I’m anxious about something. Is it helpful how I’m thinking? Is this energy that I have right now, helpful? Is how I’m thinking about this or the energy that I have around this working? Is it serving me? And if the answer is no, then wow, I have the opportunity to be able to shift my thoughts.
Now, pauses can be any length. They can be like a minute to a day or I don’t know, you could pause for a whole week if you really wanted to.
And I’m definitely going to do some other episodes on pausing, maybe, looking at ways to incorporate them into your day and the different kinds of pauses. That there are, different ways to pause. But for now,
I think the place to begin is with something simple, something that is only going to take you one minute. I think the basic, the foundational pause, is to go back to that breath and to take three conscious breaths and remember a conscious breath is just pausing and noticing the fact that you’re breathing. Yes, you’re breathing. You just haven’t been paying attention to it.
So it’s just about bringing our awareness and attention to the fact that we’re breathing. We can do it anywhere; you always have your breath with you. That’s the amazing thing. If you don’t have your breath with you, well, it’s kind of irrelevant, right? So you’ve got your breath, just pause for a minute and notice that you’re inhaling and you can breathe in the way that’s just whatever feels comfortable.
Notice that you’re inhaling, notice that pause, don’t try to control it or do anything, just notice it. Then notice that you exhale. And then notice you’re going to take another pause, your body knows what to do here, and then you’ll inhale again and just doing that three times. Now that sounds simple, doesn’t it? Lots of things are simple, but they’re not necessarily easy.
So, you might be thinking, okay, yes that sounds good. But like, how do I do that? How do I actually begin to put that back into my day? Well really precisely because our lifestyles have been such that we’re eliminating pauses from our day.
Because we’re busy, we actually have to intentionally create a habit to add them back. And habits, as much as we would like to think are easy to create, they take some time and effort. I know popular wisdom says, oh, you can create a habit in seven days or 21 days. You know, what study shows us, that’s not really true. It actually takes us at least 66 days to be consistent, doing something day after day after day for at least 66 days before it begins to become a habit, more habitual for us.
I actually created a little program to help people build that 66-day habit of pauses. I’ll leave a link in the show notes and you can check that out and see if that might help you begin to do it. Because here’s the thing, with all of our best intentions, sometimes we really need some help to make that happen.
But for now, let me leave you with a little ‘being and doing’ homework. Now, a little something to think about and a little something to try so grab a pen and write it down or if you’re not able to do that, I’m going to leave them in the show notes. You’ll also find in the show notes, a little action awareness guide that has a note-taking page. It talks about this pausing to have awareness and action. So there’s a note-taking page in there that you might find helpful for this homework. And you don’t have to do that if you don’t want, you can write it down anywhere.
So here goes, something to think about. If I paused for a moment, what would happen? And your answer, your first reaction answer to that is going to tell you a lot. One, it’s either going to point you towards what the benefit for you of beginning to pause again would be or it’s going to point you towards the cost of your very busy life. So if your answer is something about, I would get this benefit out of it, great. And if your answer is more like, I don’t have the time or something like that, it really is pointing towards probably finding some pauses would be helpful to you. So it’s either going to highlight the benefits for you or what the cost is.
And do your first reaction. Just let yourself sit for a minute, do your first reaction and then maybe think about other answers to the question. Just because we asked a powerful question of ourselves something to think about, doesn’t mean we can’t re-ask the question again. And something to try. Try adding a pause to something in your day that is already a habit.
So we know that if we add a new habit to something that is already an existing habit, it’s a lot easier to begin to build that particular habit. So think about things that are already habits for you like, brushing your teeth or getting up in the morning or stopping for a meal or getting into the car or getting on the bus or getting on your bike, whatever it is.
Stop and add a pause there.
A pause where maybe you breathe or a pause where you just pause and notice what’s happening within you, what’s happening around you. It’s a pause, where maybe you ask a powerful question or you shift your thoughts or energy a little bit. You know, I am really passionate about the power of pause.
In all the years that I’ve been working with clients, this really has become an important habit and skill for people. And clients who have worked on this and built the habit of creating pauses, actually all describe it the same way. They say it is a game changer and I think that’s very revealing and I think it’s a game-changer because pause creates possibilities.
So that’s it for today. Feel free to leave some comments or questions on the show notes page or in iTunes or even suggestions about future topics. I really do want to hear your thoughts. Next time I’m going to share some ideas about the well-being skillset of going with the flow, how to remain calm when everything around you is chaotic. So until then lovely ones, pause, breathe, and enjoy your day.
Outro: You’ve been listening to The Being and The Doing with your host, Laurel Vespi. If you liked this episode and think other people would please subscribe rate and give a review on iTunes for wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to tune in next week for another conversation about The Being and The Doing. Thanks for listening.