Feeling Drained? Here's What You Can Do About It
I read a thoughtful piece from Jack Cheng in his weekly newsletter Sunday that felt like a page ripped out of my own book. Jack noticed his schedule had been irregular lately. His daily rituals had been cast aside. A life is full of hidden surprises vying for our precious time. It's easy to forget their power as the results don't immediately stop. Like a pin prick in an air mattress. It will hold for a while, but with use will be flat in no time. Feeling drained builds until you’re stuck thinking there’s zero you can do about it.
That flipped a switch on some thinking that needed the light of day to be seen. I'd been feeling drained by the frustrations of feeling stuck. Followed by the annoying nagging of wondering why writing and business innovation now felt like burdens. I couldn't figure out what my problem was. I forgot to practice what I preach.
If you think of things as "My problem is..." then it's your problem alone to solve. By the very nature of your words, no one else has that problem. As Tony Robbins says, if you want better answers, ask better questions. If it's posed as a question, others can help you.
When I was thinking My problem is, I'm not being creative right now, there was no solution. But when I ask I wonder why I haven't felt creative lately? I've opened myself up to the idea there's an answer. Instead of running my thinking through the typical hamster wheel of I'm not good enough, Who are you to be creative? You're not creative! Stop pretending like you know what you're doing, Jack Cheng’s thoughts made me pose a question that circled back to my daily routine. I had been neglecting a couple of rituals that kept me consistent prior to the summer.
Summers make it so damn easy to get distracted from our habits that keep us in check. Not to mention indulging in delicious foods and drinking more than we care to. It's easy to find ourselves getting lazy with our routines. Long weekend cottage trips mean missed gym days. Missed days with my Daily Stoic Journal. Missed days writing down what I'm grateful for. Missed days reflecting on life. Missed days meditating. Missing one or two won't kill you. Hell, missing all of them won't kill you. Tim Ferriss, a freak of nature when it comes to discipline, said he only hits his entire routine about 30% of the time.
But for me that's not the point. I feel night and day different when I do them with the same commitment as brushing my teeth. Some things you do no matter what's going on in your life. My life feels like it flows with a consistent rhythm when I practice my routine daily.
Your mind and body love routine. Especially when the practice means growth. Your mind wants to show up and your body comes to expect it. But like any meaningful relationship, it's built on trust that you're going to show up.
Cheng pulls this thought together with a share from Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook. She's speaking of poetry, but the analogy helped me connect the dots for why I felt my creativity had dried up. I'm a sucker for a good analogy. I find nothing drives home an idea or thought with the same force or perspective shift. Our logic-driven brains miss the sometimes-obvious spiritual (think intuition) side of things.
“Part of the psyche that works in concert with consciousness and supplies a necessary part of the poem—the heat of a star as opposed to the shape of a star, let us say—exists in a mysterious, unmapped zone: not unconscious, not subconscious, but cautious. It learns quickly what sort of courtship it is going to be. Say you promise to be at your desk in the evenings, from seven to nine. It waits, it watches. If you are reliably there, it begins to show itself—soon it begins to arrive when you do. But if you are only there sometimes and are frequently late or inattentive, it will appear fleetingly, or it will appear not at all."
It felt like my creativity was drying up because I wasn't showing up as promised. That goes for my entire routine. How did I expect to have a positive mindset, energy from my workouts, or gratitude for all the incredible things going on in my life, without the moments of reflection to keep me on track?
Your brain is hardwired for survival. Nothing else. Thriving is your job. Thriving comes from showing up, even when it's the last thing you feel like doing.
You don't get to delight in a fridge full of homegrown vegetables without planting seeds in the dirt. But there's one thing to remember that so many of us forget. Only plant what you need and nourishes you. An entire grocery store of produce will only serve to overwhelm you. Know what you need, where to get it and what order you need it.
It's not what you do, it's why you do it. Brilliant things happen in calm minds. Your rituals pay dividends but none more so than leading a happy, healthy, more purpose-driven life.