30,000 feet in the air soaring along at 500 miles an hour, I’m sitting comfortably as I have hundreds of times before. I have spent thousands of hours of my life on an airplane. No one likes flying or the hassles that come with the to and from wherever the destination is.
I CAN MAKE THIS TIME AS USEFUL OR AS FRUSTRATING AS I CHOOSE.
For years I was a frustrated, cranky, and annoyed traveler. It’s really interesting looking back at those feelings of frustration during the whole travel process: the lack of control had, the hurry up and wait process, the bullshit rules and posturing. The list goes on.
I found air travel a thing I enjoyed being shitty about. It’s almost if complaining about it is the popular mentality behind it. At some point this shifted, or I submitted to the idea that flying is part of my existence. During 2008-2019, I flew close to 40 times a year. My life of competing and outside sales called for a lot of travel. Over time, my anxiety and frustration lessened with experience and competence in my ability to make air travel as frictionless as possible.
With the reframing that has happened, I look at this time totally differently. This is a time I am stuck. This is not just a time for me to zone out on a movie, which I still do occasionally, but it’s also a perfect opportunity for me to be still. My phone doesn’t ring, and texts don’t come in and distract me.
I can listen to audiobooks and deep dive internally into ideas that I normally may get too distracted to comprehend in my normal environment. It’s the perfect opportunity to sit quietly and work on owning my breath. his quiet time gives me opportunities for uninterrupted thinking.
Can doing less accomplish more?
Sitting quietly and still has historically been a real challenge for my lunatic ADHD mind. This challenge of mastering the quiet has been wildly beneficial. It’s easy for me to go go go, on to the next activity and project. This is the pace I love most and have built the majority of my life to now facilitate.
The quiet, slow, and bored times have always been the challenge. I associated boredom with being lazy, and with me getting bored easily, it’s a tough internal dogma to rewire. Exchanging my frustration on airplanes to the time I now use to my advantage has changed my overall enthusiasm that comes from travel. It was a skill of mastering nothing.
While it is really easy to think that disciplined people are the ones who wake up early and are on strict, regimented routines to get as much done efficiently as possible in their day, there is a big skill to managing the discipline of doing less. It’s easy to avoid the things that benefit us when they require action: going to the gym, getting up early, or doing your morning routine.
The reframe of attitude comes from looking at meditation as simply doing nothing. Sitting in the sauna is doing nothing. Sitting in the cold tub is doing nothing. Managing my diet requires me to eat less. For example, if I want to lose weight or get leaner, I simply have to eat less. I need to order out less, or eat less snacks and cookies. Now I can view this as doing less. While it’s not always the best plan to accomplish my goals, it is a valuable skill to add to the other side of hyper-activity in getting shit done.
This quiet down time has always been a challenge for me. This is where most of my self-examination is going to happen. I try to take this time to think about what and why I feel about recent interactions or experiences. Using this down time to process instead of seeking out comfort in distraction has tremendously assisted in developing more self awareness. This time allows me to look back and see if my actions and words have been in alignment with my long term goals.
Are my actions and intentions aligned?
This mastery of doing nothing is something I refuse to get beat by. There are things I do that benefit me but I try to avoid. For me, meditation, sauna, cold, reading, and breath work fall into this category. The call to action for me mentally is this:
“If I’m not willing to sit and do nothing to get better, how can I expect to handle the really hard stuff I want to do?”
If there is any way of improving myself short or long term by any percentage, I am interested and willing. When I find myself trying to weasel out of “doing nothing,” I ask myself this:
“DOES IT MAKE US BETTER?”
If yes, then we do it. Or admit that I’m not that interested in being my best and figure out how to be ok with that.
This brings back one of my hard line life concepts. I can’t have both. I can’t claim that I want X, but be unwilling to do the action required to accomplish it.
The HARD LINE is self improvement over everything. If I believe it helps, and I can do it, then I do it.
It’s a non-negotiable for me.
Control both sides of the coin and learn better when the right tool is needed to accomplish your current goal. The ability to act has been what most of our discussions have been thus far. Your discipline to understanding when the goals you’re chasing may require you doing less and staying the course.