Being blissfully unproductive

Being blissfully unproductive

Last weekend I took the perfect trip to usher in a new life decade.

On Tuesday, I turned 40. Surreal. I’ve felt in my 40s for years—my standard answer to the age question was, “I don’t know, I’m 5 kids old” (and then six, then seven). At the same time, 40 seems a line of demarcation. I’m officially old.

As my wife and I talked about how I wanted to celebrate, we decided on a camping trip. After work on Thursday, I drove up a nearby canyon and planned to return home Saturday morning.

I hiked in from my car until the sun was about to set and camped near the trailhead. Friday morning, I climbed up to Pittsburg Lake—about a mile and a half with 1500 feet elevation gain. I enjoyed Friday alone by the lake, and then hiked back down to my car Saturday morning.

I decided to stay as device-free as possible, and think, journal, and plan what I wanted out of the next decade. As I hiked for hours, I listened to nothing. I set up a hammock and tent and blanket on the ground and relaxed. A couple twenty minute cold plunges in the lake helped complete clearing of my mind.

One of the more important things that I did was to avoid trying to keep my thoughts productive the whole time. It’s easy to feel pressure that I should be listening to more Jocko, or an inspiring book, or else making tangible mental progress toward something.

But I resisted.

I let my mind wander.

I pursued any thought train that came my way.

On the way down Saturday, I did consciously think of each family member, my wife and seven kids, in turn, and consider my goal or focus I wanted to have with each one of them.

The major theme I brought down from the mountain was balance.

That has always been a challenge for me. My OCD leads me to all sorts of extremes, which often get in my way.

One of the main components of that balance I want to seek is that I want to cultivate a sense of time affluence.

I first heard that term, or else it most firmly lodged in my mind, from The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos, one of my favorite podcasts.

The concept is, regardless of how much discretionary time or pressing concerns you may have, time affluence is the sense that you have enough time. That contrasts with time famine, where you feel like there is never enough time.

I realized my weekend was an exercise in time affluence.

Everything on my intention list happened, and it was gloriously simple and short—I hiked, thought, journaled, read, slept, and cold plunged.

As I came back down to life and noise and chaos, I felt peace and calm. I was ready to turn 40.

When I shared the experience with my mastermind group, they commented on how drastically different I sounded from the week before. I spoke slower and more measured. Clearly, this was healthy for me.

Moving forward, my challenge will be resisting the pull of productivity. I will naturally push myself to do more. I need to focus on finding balance and living in the now.

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