You’ll recall Goldilocks entered the house of the three bears and set about finding what was right for her. Porridge: too hot, too cold, or just right. Chair: too big, too small, or just right. Bed: too hard, too soft, or just right.
Goldilocks’ search for the right fit makes her an interesting role model for balance (break and enter aside).
We’re all familiar with the ’too hot, too big, too hard’ side of this equation. That’s the world of overload and burnout where we find ourselves on fire, racing at top speed, flat out, overcommitted and overwhelmed.
We may be highly engaged, but we’re just as likely to be exhausted. Things are just not right. This overextended phenomenon of ‘too-much-ness’ gets a lot of attention.
From time to time, many of us also experience the ‘too cold, too small, too soft’ scenario. This is where we’ve outgrown one or more elements of our lives and our everyday patterns no longer fit as well as they once did.
We may feel restless, pinched, diminished, bored, joyless or adrift, suffering the dis-ease of finding ourselves under-challenged or under-engaged. Things are just not right. This malaise phenomenon gets much less attention even though it, too, causes distress.
Action: I’ve experienced malaise myself, more than once in my life. At those points, it’s not that things are all wrong, it’s more like they’re not all right any more.
It was a recent round of malaise that first pointed me in the direction of painting – as a way to light a spark in the areas of learning and creative expression. And, boy did it ever do that for me!
Rest easy! I’m not advocating painting as a panacea for everyone. But, I can suggest an approach that might help you find your way to a better place – or help you guide others who may find themselves stuck.
- Give yourself permission to pause and reflect. Take stock of your current situation. Notice what’s pinching, what’s old hat or overly familiar for you. Think about what might be missing or lacking.
- Explore new possibilities. Tune in directions or interests that have the potential to energize your life. Map out a few possibilities.
- Test the waters. It may take a few runs at this to settle on something that has real potential for you.
- Find a way to integrate this fresh pursuit in your life. It may mean letting go of some of the old familiar ways to carve out space for the new.
- Be prepared to cycle through this process more than once as you make your way through life’s ebbs and flows. ‘Just right’ is always a moving target.
PS – I’m in the midst of researching this experience of malaise, and pulling together a collection of ideas to help people address it. As a heads up, I want to let you know I’ll be inviting you to respond to an upcoming survey to share what you’ve learned about malaise in your world. I’m eager to hear your take on this issue.
Quotes Of The Week: Boredom is an emptiness filled with insistence. – Leo Stein
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. – Dorothy Parker
There are three things which if one does not know, one cannot live long in the world: what is too much for one, what is too little for one, and what is just right for one. – Swahili Proverb
Resource Of The Week: An article by Susan Perry suggests that boredom serves a purpose. It can act as a catalyst to enrich lives, unleash creativity, and help us find more meaningful pursuits. Interesting proposition.
Readers Write: In response to a recent ezine, Could You Use More Breathing Space, Pause reader LL writes:
This reminded me of my own experience of trying to squeeze too much in my schedule. Once I was driving and listening to an audio book and something caught my attention. The trees were a magnificent bright green and the sky was deep blue. It was beautiful and breathtaking! I started to feel so grateful for the country I live in and the beauty of nature.
I stopped the audio to simply look around without any distraction. Being present in the moment is the most important thing in life. Otherwise, you live through someone else’s eyes; and then you wake up 10 years older than you were!