I can remember the feeling very well. The feeling of being drained, lethargic, listless, and like I needed the most caffeinated beverage possible just to stay awake. This is the way I felt when I did not have very much tension in my life. But wait, what is tension?
Well, the word Tension is defined as “physical or emotional strain”.
Going to the gym and working out is tension. Studying for your difficult exam coming up is tension. Waking up at 5am to go on a run is tension. Having that difficult conversation with a loved one is tension. Speaking up for yourself is tension. Cleaning the bathroom is tension.
Tension is anything in your life where you choose to go against the path of least resistance.
Sometimes we can spend the bulk of our time simply avoiding anything which has to do with tension, because it hurts! It’s damn hard to get out of bed before the sun is fully up to go and get your workout in which you have promised yourself you will do. The thing is, when we avoid tension in our lives we also end up cheating ourselves out of the greatest gift we can give ourselves in life.
Yes, I believe that the greatest gift we can give to ourselves is the gift of growth in this life. The thing is, we experience tension from a very young age and don’t even think about it. Have you always known how to walk? No. You had to begin to practice walking. The practice was falling down over and over until eventually your young self learned which muscles to use and how to balance correctly. If you ever learned how to ride a bike or to tie your shoes the same thing applies here. When we are this young we do not really think of this being such a hardship or like this is work. We simply continue to try to walk because this is what we see everybody else doing. It doesn’t matter how much we fall, we do it until we get it. So how do we get it into our minds and bodies to avoid tension?
Our lives today are so much easier and more comfortable than they have ever been. We do not need to hunt or gather for food, we have supermarkets and even delivery services to give us our supply of sustenance. We have climate controlled homes which keep us comfortable all year long and not have to contend with harsher weather conditions. We also now have endless supplies of (often mindless) entertainment, and we carry that source of entertainment in our pocket at all times, and we are usually more focused on this device than we are on looking people in the eye. Needless to say our comfortable and cushy existence in the 21st century has made it possible to avoid almost all tension in life if this is what you choose. Thing is, this also gets boring pretty quickly when we are never challenged.
This is all not to say we should never enjoy ourselves, or never kick back and indulge some relaxation. However this relaxation is made so much better after we have experienced a decent amount of tension in our day. Have you ever had a day where you feel like you accomplished everything you set out to do? Maybe you did your work out, had a productive day at work, cleaned the bathroom, talked to your friend, and even wrote a blog post :). How satisfied did you feel at the end of that day? I truly hope you kicked back, had a good meal, and did something you really enjoyed and helped you relax. Our evening shenanigans are so much more satisfying after a productive day, I probably don’t need to tell you this.
Although we do not want to avoid all tension or stress in our life, there is also the opposite end of this extreme. If you are into self development like myself you can probably be very intense about doing those tasks you feel you should be doing. So much so that you can have the tendency to get down on yourself if you are not doing something you deem to be productive during every waking moment of your day. I’ve been there. I have overtrained with lifting weights before, it’s no fun and your body will not thank you for it. It was a relief to me to then find I could strike a real balance between the productive side of my life, and with the leisure part of my life. Find what is the right balance for you, it probably won’t be the same as me.