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Let Yourself Be Instead of Pushing to Get Things Done

Just Be

“When you try to control everything, you enjoy nothing. Sometimes you just need to relax, breathe, let go and live in the moment.” ~Unknown

Recently I went to an annual fall retreat for my graduate program. This was exactly what my heart was longing for up until this point. I felt overworked by school and overwhelmed by the busyness of the city and suburban life. I needed something different, something that would help me feel more grounded and at ease.

We went out to Middle-of-no-where-on-top-a-mountain, California, where the only sign of civilization was the four-way highway down below. I’m originally from Middle-of-no-where, Illinois, so being in nature felt like home to me.

I’m very familiar and comfortable with nature, and I felt I had been greatly neglecting that deep desire to connect with nature once again.

This was not the first time I felt disconnected. During my eighteen months living abroad in Korea, I hardly spent time in nature. With so many buildings, cars, and people, I felt easily overwhelmed with other people’s energy and completely out of balance.

Many of us feel this way in our modern day technology and go-go-go lifestyles. We tend to feel drained, tired, easily irritated, and stressed.

Because of this imbalance, I noticed it was common to have fleeting thoughts like:

“Agh, why the heck can’t I find a parking spot?!”

“Darnit, I’m going to be late. People, get out of my way!”

“Why on earth does this line have to be so long?”

Though I noticed that many of these thoughts come and go rather quickly, the energy produced from them would “stick” and make it harder to be present.

These types of thoughts are very common because our habitual minds (or egos) want things done now rather than to simply be during the experience and get things done in our own time.

Our ego is the part of us that likes to reject the moment and focus on the future rather than accept what is in the present so we can experience joy. 

So rather than being anxious and frustrated about not finding a parking place, we accept the moment and trust that, regardless of this minor obstacle, everything is wonderful and as it should be.

Although my intention for the retreat was to feel relaxed, rejuvenated, and refreshed, by the end of the day I didn’t quite feel this way. I felt my time there wasn’t long enough. I wanted to spend time being present with the sound of the crickets and to marvel over the smells of nature so much more.

Despite my inner longing for more time to connect with nature, I felt my responsibilities were forcing me to go back.

However, once I returned to suburban life, I didn’t fall into typical morning and day routine. I kept feeling my body pushing me to do something else. I woke up and went for an early morning walk. This time, without my phone—just my keys.

As I walked, I noticed and marveled over the large evergreens outside of my apartment. I noticed the maple leaves on the ground with beautiful fall colors. I listened closely to the sound of water fountains and allowed myself to feel peace from the sounds.

This peaceful feeling carried into the afternoon, when I avoided watching television or doing any work. Rather, I simply did yoga—and not in a structured, routine video kind of way but simply a “do the move I feel I need to do right now” kind of way.

I realized I didn’t need an escape from the city; all I needed was an escape from myself—my own mind. All I needed was to just sit back, relax, and just be without any motive or push to do things.

In our society we are hardwired to always be doing something. We tell ourselves that we have to go grocery shopping, do laundry, take out the trash, exercise, work, study, watch TV, and so on. How often do we do things without the pressure to do but rather to be?

Why don’t we simply be when we take out the trash? Why don’t we simply be when we exercise? Why don’t we simply be when we clean our house or apartment?

To “simply be” means to be connected. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what we are doing but rather the feeling behind the action. In other words, what thoughts are you having during the activity? 

Are you in your mind, rejecting the moment, or accepting what is? Are you complaining about having to do the activity or are you making the most of it? Are you all preoccupied with all the other things you need to do today or are you simply being present with what you are currently doing?

When we reject, complain, or are preoccupied with thoughts about the past or future, we create this inner pressure within ourselves that causes the symptoms of stress. However, if we simply accept what is and choose to enjoy and really take in what life has to offer, at that moment, then we can be stress-free.

When we let go of the need to push and “get things done now,” we can actually enjoy ourselves. When we choose to accept the present moment, we can then experience a sense of peace, calm, and joy of life. We can enjoy the moment for what it truly is.

Think of all the various things you need to do today, tomorrow, or this week. What tasks can you shift yourself from “pushing to get it done” into simply allowing yourself to be so you can simply enjoy the moment?

Perhaps you can focus on the present while…

  • Exercising
  • Cleaning the kitchen floor
  • Doing dishes
  • Watering your plants
  • Feeding your pet
  • Walking in the morning
  • Driving to work

When we choose to let go and just be in the moment, we can fully enjoy what life has to offer us right now, with no formal nature retreat required!

I challenge you to choose a daily task this week where you are going to try to simply be while doing it. What can you start doing today to help you be more present?

Photo by Hartwig HKD

About Jennifer Twardowski

Jennifer is a self and relationship coach and teacher.  She is the founder of jennifertwardowski.com where she helps women create fulfilling relationships andlives by reconnecting with their true heart’s desires. Grab a copy of her Self and Relationship Healing Meditation and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • AEC

    This was a great article. I am one of those chronically busy people (aren’t we all 🙂 ). I have trouble “being” when there is nothing to do, so I constantly take on more than I can possibly fit into a day. All this leaves me feeling stressed. What really struck me about this article is that you made me realize I was constantly looking towards the future, but never enjoying the moment. I’m always looking at the future, trying to do everything I can to make the future “better”. But, after years of doing that, I realize that I haven’t really enjoyed the last several years of my life. There have been enjoyable moments, but I haven’t really been happy. I’ve been constantly working day and night to get to that place (don’t know what place I’m trying to get to) that will finally make me happy. I always accomplish my goals and I do very well with my career and education and checking off all the boxes for my relationships… but there is still something missing. The next time I look at my long to-do list, I’m going to try to accept that I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to get it all done. I don’t have to please everyone. I need to stop and take the time to enjoy SOMETHING, or I’ll always be chasing a future happiness that is constantly escaping me in the present. Thank you for helping me me tie my thoughts together with your article.

  • So happy to hear that my article had such an impact on you! It’s a journey and it definitely takes effort and dedication. I wish you the best! <3

  • Talya Price

    This is my main problem, I need to learn to go with the flow. I am always trying to force things to happen.

  • Keri

    This was an awesome article, Jennifer, thank you! The Universe has it figured out for us but we push against it all the time. The more we push, the worse it seems to get. If we just let go and let things happen, accepting that they are happening, we will be released. It can be hard to do but it’s so worth it!

  • Definitely! Glad you enjoyed the article Keri! 🙂

  • The irony is that it is tough to do at first, but once you get there it
    feels so easy and natural that you can’t understand why it was so hard
    to get there. You got the first step down: awareness. Just keep making the intention and putting forth the effort! 🙂

  • Great post Jennifer. I think we have really lost the skill of listening to our body in our Western society. If only we would take the time to tune in a bit more, we would be able to give ourselves more of what we really need.

  • Definitely! A lot of our problems would be solved if we just tuned inward more. Glad you enjoyed the article! 🙂

  • Shalabh

    Lovely article ..Resonates at so many levels with my life. Thanks you!! Would really love to see what small things can someone do on a daily basis to break this vicious circle of unknowingly or habitually trying to plan/control everything in life…Keep up the good work!!

  • Thanks Shalabh! Actually, I’m currently in the process of developing a program with tools to help create a self-care routine with the consistent underlying message of “being” rather than “pushing” in doing the activities (that are mind, body, spirit oriented). The program is called I ♥ Me and I’m hoping to get it out February/March. You can check out my website and get on a separate mail list for it to be sure you get updates if you’re interested.

  • mikorte

    The main thing is that you have to have fun in what you are doing. Because if it is no fun then do not bother doing it.

    Lawrence Bergfeld

  • Harmony

    This is exactly what I was thinking about today, the first day of my holidays. Recently, I have been feeling this “pushing to get things done” most weekends. It’s one thing after the other, doing laundry, getting groceries, cooking, doing yoga, etc. My head hasn’t been in the moment much at all; rather I have been focused on completing the task and then going on to the next thing. I have realized that this way of thinking creates stress when there is actually nothing stressful about my weekends! It’s this desperately pushing ego-mind that causes the feeling of tension. Today, although I still had a list of things in my mind that I wanted to get done, I tried to really enjoy each one. The key for me is to constantly bring myself back to my breath. When I am paying attention to my breathing, there is only one place I can be–in the present. Thanks for the excellent post!

  • DarkMagician8880

    This is an awesome post. I really appreciate and enjoyed it. made my life easier

  • DarkMagician8880

    thank you so much for sharing this post.

  • Definitely! 🙂

  • Glad you enjoyed the post! And yes, drawing your focus back to the breath helps a lot! 🙂

  • Thanks! So happy to hear! 🙂

  • Piers

    Thank you! I totally get this post.
    After moving from the english west-country to the city of Bradford in Yorkshire, greenery disappeared, friendship circles changed, and with a mind set on ‘needing’ to study/do better/healthier/get up earlier etc……. all the while I was resisting this change and improvement was, well, futile.

    It was only until I went on a bike ride yesterday – caked in mud, lungs tightening on steep climbs, fingers frozen and the rain pouring – that I felt woken up from this tunnel vision and more energised to actually pursue what I want, and feeling better about it too.

    So yes, its all about a change of perspective, which I think starts with some grounding; a space to ‘let go’ for a moment and stop processing stuff, whether its Jen’s Middle-of-no-where-on-top-a-mountain in Cali or my moment of dirt and wet on 2 wheels. I’m off to go run in the rain!

  • Glad you hear you liked the article! Have fun running in the rain. 🙂

  • Izabela R.

    I noticed your last name. Do you have Polish blood or married into it? I have Polish blood, I came to Australia when I was 7.