Balancing Doing and Non-Doing

This article is going to be largely philosophical. I have always enjoyed sharing and dissecting ideas. In life, healthy people always have a balance between doing and non-doing. For example, a successful writer knows that they must write, but they know that they must also take time off to get new ideas and inspiration. Any athlete knows that recovery time is just as important as training time. When we skew towards one side, we experience uncomfortable (non-beneficial) stress. As many people are learning from the coronavirus pandemic, non-doing can impart a kind of stress as well. Similarly, too much doing is a type of stress that should be apparent. As with most things, we have to experiment and adjust along the way to find our correct balance of doing and non-doing.

A man resting and relaxing

Doing and Non-Doing are the Same

Duality is a key teaching in Buddhism. The idea that “this is because that is”. The defining principle in making strength and/or physique gains is progressive overload. Basically that your body needs to do more in order to change. But there is deep nuance in that idea. When you train for a while, you learn that the other side of the coin is fatigue management, basically recovery. It becomes clear that you cannot have one without the other. If you fall out of balance (too much work or too much recovery), you won’t make progress.

This applies to nearly all areas of our lives. If we work at our job too much, we get fatigued. If we are slack in our work (we should) feel guilty and miss opportunities for advancement.

Rest is when Growth takes Place

When we think of making improvements, our mind pushes us toward thinking of them solely as products of exertion. For example, a bodybuilder is usually thought of as becoming so by lifting weights. This is certainly true. But, every bodybuilder knows that the true improvements come during rest. Once we exert ourselves, adaptations do not begin until we rest. As alluded to earlier, there is a balance. Too much rest, no improvement. Too much work, no improvement.

Time is peculiar in that it is necessary for all achievements, but is not able to be manipulated. If it takes four years to get a college degree, thats just how long it takes. Perhaps some genius could squeeze it out in three, but for the most part, it is what it is. The hardest part of working toward any goal for most goal-oriented people is waiting and resting. We usually find that taking action is invigorating and sometimes immediately rewarding. We also have to remember that rest and time are also two key components.

Getting what we want usually requires a balanced blend of action (doing) and rest (non-doing). How do you balance these seeming opposites in your life?

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