I do this thing, where I will start reading anywhere from three to five books at a time. They all exist in different formats, and I typically finish about 10% of them, and that's probably generous.
(Please tell me I'm not alone...?)
Right now though, I'm reading two books that are blowing my mind for similar reasons.
The first is called "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" by Bronnie Ware.
Here's a quote from Bronnie Ware, "' Live true to your own heart, darling. Don't ever worry what others think. Promise me Bronnie,' her voice now a barely audible whisper. 'I promise you, Grace,' I said gently. Squeezing my hand she drifted off to sleep..."
The author recounts stories of her work as a palliative care provider. She outlines the top five regrets of the clients she serves, all of whom are dying.
The top five regrets are as follows:
I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I'd stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish I had let myself be happier.
All of this connects directly to the second book, which I'm listening to, called "Laziness Does Not Exist" by Devon Price.
*(Side note, if you don't know about Libby - it's an app that allows you to listen to audiobooks for free from your local library!).
In it, the author starts off by describing their early experiences with burnout. Specifically, the mindset of hard work ingrained as a child, and as an adult, having flu-like symptoms for several years during their Ph.D. program, and finally being forced to rest.
The book dives deeply into the roots of America's obsession with productivity, and our internalized terror around the idea of "laziness". What this translates to, is a world in which our self-worth is directly tied to our productivity. And guess who benefits from that?
The people at the very top.
This narrative is so insidious. It dates back to slavery, and we see it running rampant on social media.
It's "hustle culture."
It's "booked and busy."
America has managed to absolutely glorify a system that promotes burnout over rest, and it's making us sick, and very tired.
I haven't finished either book yet, but I'd like to propose that we all take a good look at what drives us on the daily.
Do you enjoy how you spend your days?
Does your work give you life?
And if not, what is really stopping you from re-organizing your priorities?
What if you did drop a ball or two, in the name of self-preservation?
What if you let go of the need to be producing something 24/7?
I have a theory that we all might gain some insight into what our actual purpose is - what really matters - if we did.
This is the essence of what I invite my clients to do in our work together. We look inward to find answers to the deep, existential questions and longing for a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
And honestly, slowing down, taking a deep breath, and looking inward, is a threat.
Because what we discover is that, just by being a living breathing human, we have value. And our value is not determined by our paycheck, job status, or upward mobility in corporate America.
Our value lies in who we are, how we serve, and what lights us up on the inside.
This is what capitalism is terrified that we will discover. And more threatening is our ability to earn a living by knowing our value, and sharing our gifts.
Because it doesn't benefit the billionaire class, and it directly contradicts the status quo.
We are taught that stability, and upward mobility, are the universal goalposts of success.
But what if that doesn't feel good to me? What if it feels really boring and exhausting and stupid?
And like, what if there really is another, more satisfying way to approach life and work? One that feeds your soul, and also supports you financially?
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