Earlier this week, I was pool-side, beach-side, spa-side, palm-side, cocktail-side, wife-side, Bintang-side, surf-side and indeed also turtle-side (okay, it was a great relaxing Balinese holiday, gloating over).
It was a time to relax, and reflect.
Already at mwah. we have had a pretty fantastic and frenetic start to 2019. One achievement was the launch of Article 23 – our podcast to cover the big topics of work – Leadership, Culture, Mindset and ultimately just how fundamental work is to us as humans.
We know how fundamental time to rest it is to our wellbeing, connectivity, worth, and belongingness. It’s also well known that, in Australia, we work A LOT, and the consequences of working long hours, in stressful environments, are proven to have dire consequences for individuals, organisations and more systemically, society in general.
We get it.
Work demands are high. Family demands are high. Financial demands are high. Demands on our time and what we prioritise often feel at constant tension points.
We are always connected, multi-device, multi-channel contactable – evolution probably will see future versions of ourselves with a mobile phone instead of a hand.
This got me thinking, just as fundamentally as work is a human right, to contribute, to earn an income, to carve out a purpose and meaning; the counterbalance to this is the right to rest. And poor segue way aside, that counterweight to work is articulated (at a high level) right alongside Article 23 on the Declaration of Human Rights is Article 24.
Article 24 simply says that “everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay”.
The intent behind this is understandable, simple, clear.
But, just how good are you at resting vs. working?
At the risk of oversharing – I suck at resting.
In theory, and in principle – I like the idea of resting. I have a few select leisure activities of choice – and spending more time on those works for me. An opportunity to unwind, declutter, spend time with my family or maybe even a chance to improve at something I love (still just a hope in my case with tennis).
But the idea of rest as sitting still, falling out of touch, out of the loop, of sleeping actually fidgets me.
I like work. I like interacting with people. I like some (healthy) pressure. Sitting still for me becomes like having ants in the pants. Sit down at your desk or jump up and down – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Latter please.
On holiday, I very consciously worked to disconnect, not in a particularly meditative way but in an actively questioning way.
Do I really need to see mindless social media on nothing useful?
Do the reds and greens of intraday stock price variations need my attention?
Will hitting refresh on the inbox make an email arrive or change my propensity to respond to it?
No x 3.
So, I took the time to really try and get better at rest. And for me, I landed more on the idea of mental rest than physical rest – leisure time with walks, the odd surf or swim – all part of it. As was the opportunity to not walk by unaware of your surroundings – but rather – hone-in on the sounds and smells around me.
To many Australian-based readers, the sounds and smells of Bali and Indonesia are both different and familiar – the number of times we got ‘welcome to your second home’ was funny, cute and cheeky.
The sounds and smells of incense burning on an offering outside a fancy shop, a private home or a street vendor, motorbikes whizzing by without limitations like road rules, the smell of wet-season rain, of rattan and cane, salt and sand and surf.
In observing the fascinating and rich everyday lives of local people, in chatting to them – you invariably get some insight into work – but also more intriguingly to me – an insight into the way they rest.
And it just so happens that rest is inbuilt into work practices and design; work seems to ebb and flow more than constant connectivity or foot on the pedal. Every rice farmer has a space to specifically rest, shopkeepers taking a nap inside their store given long opening hours – pretty commonplace. These observations are not necessarily recommendations for your office in the CBD – or to radically change an enterprise agreement at your retailer – but we can lose sight of what’s out there.
Probably my favourite case in point was visible right at the end of our jaunt. Nyepi – or Day of Silence – is important to Hindus as the start of the new year in Bali. It is deeply spiritual, profound, significant and multifaceted – something I could only try to understand superficially so I will not explain fully.
What I can appreciate, and applaud, is that it culminated yesterday after a series of ceremonies and traditions on the 7 March where Bali goes into a kind of lockdown. People have a public holiday dedicated to self-reflection. Anything that distracts from reflection is removed – things like cooking, cleaning, the beach, electricity, the Internet.
Yes, the Government basically kills the Internet (please pick your jaw up off the ground. I know, what would we do without the internet?).
It’s made much worse because even on an isolated Balinese beach where the connectivity is better than Australia’s entire dedicated national broadband network.
Our panic aside, people in Bali don’t seem to be phased by that one bit. They appreciate the balance of modern Balinese life and of tradition. They see lots of things as distractions – and they ultimately see this as a great connection point for family to all be together – without those distractions.
So as a chatty guy, I learned that there is nothing wrong with rest and more importantly, that a little silence goes a long way. This weekend, I am going to reconnect with a whole range of people, by disconnecting.
See you next week!