When was the last time you listened to the sweet sound of silence? When was the last time you decided to close the door and just let yourself be, with nowhere to go and nothing to do?
Arianna Huffington gave a talk last week in Philadelphia promoting her 14th book, Thrive, in which she implores us to slow down and make the time to renew ourselves. After years of international productivity, over drive, sleep deprivation and now at the height of her success, Huffington is convinced that too many of us have shrunk ourselves down to to-do lists and are overly focused on power and money as the markers of success rather than internal aliveness.
As an executive coach and psychotherapist, I work with the burnout and disillusionment that Arianna talks about. Too many people in our culture are wearing their long hours at work as badges of honor, believing that climbing the corporate ladder will lead to fulfillment and that what they produce is the measure of who they are. I, too, have been guilty of feeling like the barometer of my goodness is how much time I put into my work. When I was in college, I took pride in how many hours a day I read, as if the hours spent were a reflection of my moral superiority over my classmates who were playing frisbee on the quad. Only years later did I identify my learning differences that make my reading slower than other people, and that my time with my head in the books was more about my slow brain rather than my greater intellectual prowess. That was too bad; I lost out on a lot of fun.