‘Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.’ ~Zen Proverb
By Leo Babauta
In my second month of The Year of Living Without, I committed to not sitting for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
I have to admit failure here.
Well, not complete failure. I sat much less in August than I normally do, and was really pretty good in the mornings about remembering to get up (though I did forget a little in the beginning) and walking around, standing and reading, stretching, etc. I also was very active during the month, going for walks, runs, gym workouts, etc.
The problem came when I was tired, usually later in the afternoon and in the evenings. When I was tired, I just couldn’t seem to follow the plan. I would be tired from a long run (for example), and would lie down to take a short nap, and just wouldn’t want to get up. I forgave myself, and let myself rest. I told myself my body needed it.
Social situations were also awkward — when I would meet someone for dinner or tea, sitting is the norm. At first, I tried standing up, and explained myself, and felt weird standing up when they were sitting — I felt I was making them a little uncomfortable. So I caved there too, and decided not to make my friends or new acquaintances feel weird.
This Year of Living Without is not about making my life miserable, but about learning what it’s like to give up something I don’t want to give up. It’s about learning about resistance, and what it’s like to push back against that internal resistance.
I did learn about that in August.
Here are some lessons:
- When you’re tired, it’s really hard to beat resistance.
- Rest before the resistance comes. Get lots of sleep to change habits.
- It’s hard to remember a day-long habit like not sitting for too long. Start with smaller sections, like just the morning, and then expand.
- In the beginning of a habit, have visual reminders where the habit takes place, so you don’t forget. Enlist the help of others to remind you too.
- Figure out what you’ll do in social situations before they happen. Talk to people before you meet with them, and tell them about your weird habit, and work out a plan together. Otherwise it becomes awkward and you cave in.
- Forgive yourself when you fail.
- Standing, stretching, doing exercises, cleaning, running, walking and generally being more active during the day makes you tired later in the day. I was surprised how tired I got.
Previously: My Month Without Coffee (update: I’ve been drinking coffee again recently)
September: My Month Without TV & Video
This month, I’m going without video of any kind, which includes TV, movies, YouTube and other online video.
I resisted this idea mostly because it’s been my ritual to sit with Eva in the evenings and have a glass of red wine and watch one of our favorite shows for about an hour or so. This was our winding-down ritual, and it was something we shared. I didn’t want to give this up, and every time I considered it previously, I resisted. So I’m giving it up.
The biggest obstacle is losing that shared time with Eva (and the kids sometimes). I’ve suggested that we do something else together in the evening, but at the same time I don’t want to force her to give up TV if she doesn’t want to. So we’re still figuring this out.
My replacement habit is to write, read and do yoga in the evenings. So I’m actually looking forward to this. Actually, I’ve already started (3 days now) and am enjoying the extra time at night, but not enjoying missing the shared family time.
One small slip-up to report already: I watched this video about our smartphones disconnecting us from each other. I liked the video a lot, but then realized I wasn’t supposed to watch it. Oops!