By Jeena Cho • January 26, 2014•Writers in Residence, Balancing Private and Professional Life
It took me almost 10 years to realize that ever since my first day as a 1L, the word “fun” was eliminated from my vocabulary. Same goes for “hobby.” I was on a one way trip to the land of misery but didn’t even know it. I don’t know what it is about the legal profession, but we’re a singularly focused group of folks. Maybe it’s because most of us make a living by exchanging 6 minute increments for money or it’s because it takes a lot of dedication and focus to master the law, but it’s rare to meet a lawyer that has a full and balanced life.
Which brings me to Sex & Money. I would like to encourage all of our readers to add pleasure (back) into your life. Now, I’m not talking about the kind of pleasure that happens between the sheets, which is great too. I’m talking about adding the kind of pleasure that makes your life feel more whole, and balanced.
What do you like do for fun?
Someone asked me this question not too long ago. I responded with my usual answer “yoga, reading, and travel.” As the words were coming out of my mouth, I noticed how hollow my answer was because I had not done any of those things for fun in a really long time. I was grinding away at my desk, all the time. The only thing I ever read was legal documents or maybe occasional Facebook/Twitter feed. And travel? Not a chance.
Finding Time and Creating Space
I was determined to go out and do the things I used to consider fun once again. So, I signed up for yoga. I hated every second of the entire 90 minutes class and I hated the fact that I wasn’t enjoying the class. I bought a fun book to read, which sat on the nightstand, unread, and just added to my sense of guilt. I went on a weekend trip but spent the entire time checking email compulsively on my iPhone.
If this sounds familiar, here are some suggestions for bringing pleasure and fun back into your life (without guilt, self-judgment) with ease.
- Breathe. Set the timer for 60 seconds. Close your eyes and breathe. See if you can create a sense of spaciousness as you breathe. Imagine you have all day to simply sit with nothing to do. Breathe as if you’re sitting on the beach, by a river or wherever you want to be.
Look up. As you walk, to your office, to the grocery store, to your car, take a moment to look up at the sky. Feel the spaciousness of the sky. Notice its beauty. Take a moment to enjoy it. Take a moment to notice the architecture and the people on the street.
Walk. When you’re ready to bang your head against the wall, working on that brief, step away from your computer and take 5 minutes to walk around the block. I know. This is much harder than it sounds. But, there’s lots of studies which indicates movement, such as walking and change in environment (e.g., getting out of the office) triggers different parts of your brain into action, which may actually help you problem solve. (This is also the reason why you often think of solutions in the shower.)
Listen. Go on Youtube. Find your favorite song and listen to it. For bonus points, put on your best Karaoke voice and sing along.
Sign-up for a class. I mean a fun class, not a CLE. Classes are a wonderful way to do something different or reintroduce yourself to a hobby. Some ideas - Improv, singing, public speaking, meditation, foreign language, painting, and acting.
Schedule downtime. Our attention is constantly being pulled in 10 different directions. We’re constantly busy. What if you scheduled 15 minutes of downtime on your calendar? You can use this time to simply sit quietly and enjoy doing nothing. If you find that your mind is wandering or you can’t get your thoughts to quiet, see if you can breathe in and out as you count from 1 - 10. If you lose count, simply start again at 1.
Life is too precious to spend it being miserable. Why not sprinkle it with a bit of pleasure?