Enjoying Life: The Art of Receptivity
I am astonishingly bad at resting. I’ll accomplish one thing and then immediately move on to the next. My ambition and excitement carry me along until I have so many projects going on that I’m living entirely off of momentum—the moment I pause or slow down the whole thing falls apart. I’ll realize how dang tired I am. I’ll realize how silly it is to not actually enjoy the fruits of my labor. But ambition will call, and I’ll answer. I’ll start spinning the wheels of productivity until I’ve built up that safe momentum once more.
There are positive reasons for this sort of active lifestyle. I genuinely love what I’m doing. I find meaning and fulfillment in all of the projects I take on. I relish pushing myself further and seeing how far I can go.
But there are also some not-so-noble motivations. Motivation that ties my productivity to my self-worth, that questions what my value is if I don’t have something to show for my efforts. Motivation that suggests I’m falling behind if I don’t keeping moving forward, that somehow life is a competition that I am always losing.
These motivations make it hard to enjoy the results of my hard work.
I recently received some immensely exciting news (that I will share on the blog later this week). The news meant that five months of working like crazy, spinning my wheels, and agonizing, was finally over.
I couldn’t enjoy it.
For two days, I felt disconnected, reeling, and numb, because this massive weight had suddenly lifted off of me and I no longer had anything I needed to do. Instead, I was looking out over a precipice at all of the things I don’t know.
I questioned everything—could this really be happening? Do I deserve this? What is the next step? What should I be doing?
My body and mind and heart couldn’t comprehend it. But the doing, for the moment, was done.
How do you receive good news?
Does it fill you with anxiety, just waiting for the other shoe to drop?
Does it fill you with guilt, like you aren’t quite sure you deserve your success?
Does it fill you with panic, like you don’t know what to do now that there isn’t anything else to do?
How do you allow yourself to just enjoy the moment and savor what is before moving on to what comes next?
A friend at Qoya shared the simple yet remarkable truth that we receive through the senses. Literally, that is how we receive anything—through our senses.
We receive stimuli all the time, but that doesn’t mean we’re aware of it on a conscious level. The trick is to slow down and pay attention, thus opening ourselves up for receiving.
So I tried to jumpstart my ability to receive my good news through the senses.
I went on long walks without my headphones in so I could receive the sounds around me: birdsong, splashing water, snippets of conversation, footfalls of runners and walkers, the whiz of bicycles. I breathed in fresh air.
I went to an antique/junk shop to let my eyes feast on color and texture and patterns. I went to the Mall of America for people-watching and for feeling abundant as I bought myself a few things that weren’t purely for function or practicality.
I went to one of my favorite restaurants and ate slowly to really savor the flavors.
I ended up taking a full day off to just receive the direction of my heart rather than mentally plan out my day as I normally do. I did not write anything. I did not do anything on my various projects. I simply had a day off—my first in months.
It felt so good.
And the experiment worked. It tricked my mind out of its numb shock and into a more celebratory mood. I even got to a state of relaxation and elation where I could roll down my windows and blast Shakira’s “La La La” on repeat on the highway.
If even God can rest on the seventh day, so can I. So please excuse me, I have a lot of enjoying and receiving to do.