About a decade ago I made the swap from Windows-based computers to Apple. The upside is that all of my devices connect and communicate with one another seamlessly. If I type something into the Notes app on my iPhone, it appears on my laptop. And if I edit it there, the corrections automatically appear- almost magically- on the desktop in my home office. This interconnectivity skyrocketed my productivity and the ease with which I navigate my workflow.
Again, that’s the upside.
Yes, there’s also a downside. It’s a tricky one, but it’s there. Here’s my shot explaining it…
Apple products just, well, they just work. It seems like the other kinds of computers I used were always finicky and regularly flat-lined. They took forever to start-up. Every time a program got “locked up” I had to reboot the entire machine. The “blue screen of death” regularly appeared. I had to purchase a new computer- almost like precision clockwork- every year. And, since nothing transferred automatically (I spent numerous sleepless nights struggling in vain to sync, move, clone, etc.), I had to reinstall every program individually and adjust every setting on the new computer. I’ve never had to do any of that with my Macs.
I know. You’re wondering, “What’s the downside?”
Turns out, my Mac laptops have worked so well that I never even turn them off. Ever. I just press “Control + S” (the macro to save the current file) and then close the cover. That’s it.
When I want to work again, I just open the computer like a book and begin anew- any changes I pecked into my phone or any other device having already automatically made their way to the never-turned-off-laptop.
Yet there’s the rub.
Eventually, my first Mac began dragging. Struggling. Bad. It began behaving like a Windows-based PC. The whole thing got janky enough that I set an appointment at the Genius Bar at the local Apple Store.
“Do you ever turn this thing off?” the blue-shirted Genius asked me.
Knowing I was probably “in trouble” by a kid half my age, I sheepishly admitted, “Uh… no. Not really.” Then, after a few moments, “Actually, not at all.”
“Let’s restart it,” he said.
He punched a few keys and did something I hadn’t done to the computer in 6-9 months: he powered the machine down. Completely off.
After a few minutes, he pressed the power button and the laptop came back to life- almost as if it was completely new. Over the next few days, I noticed that the computer no longer slogged along. It’s like the entire system exhibited renewed vigor and enthusiasm.
If you’ve own a cell phone (I know, the technical name is mobile phone, now, and everybody has one), you’ve probably had unresolvable issues with it, called tech support, and then heard them tell you something like, “Alright, do this for me. Let’s perform something called a hard reset. We’re going to completely power the thing down, wait a few moments, and then start it back up.”
They always promise something that seems absurd for such a simple task as turning the phone off: “That should fix it.”
Generally, they’re right. It does.
I’ve seen this with virtually all of my electronic devices. I have a huge 55” TV in my living room. Tied to my Apple TV, I leave it on all the time. I play music from it and let the screen-saver run in the background… 24 hours a day.
About once a week, though, the sound just stops working. Everything goes silent.
It flustered me the first time I discovered this phenomena. I sat down, pizza in hand, ready to enjoy a movie at the end of a long week of work-travel with my compadres Jim Bob & Ernie. I left the television “on” the entire time we were gone, of course.
Imagine my un-delight when I selected a movie from my Wish List, settled back to enjoy, and watched the opening bumper begin to play… in complete silence. I decided if the power-off-WAIT-power-on routine was good enough for the tiny phone it was probably good enough for the sound function of my over-sized TV.
Worked like a charm.
Now, without fail, the occasional quiet spell phases-me-not. I take it in stride. I power everything off, pause, re-power it, and everything instantly works again. Like new. The temporary pause creates space where the machine performs at max output once again.
I restart my computer at least once a week, now. And I regularly turn the phone completely off. When I do, they work well. When I don’t, they just don’t. Until I do a hard reset, that is.
Notice the graphic below. The more trips I make around the sun the more I realize we’re exactly like those machines. In order to “work right” we’ve got to pause, too.
A few months ago we released the book Healthy Hustle. I titled chapter 1 “Creation’s Rhythm,” the main argument being that for all the talk in our culture about living in balance, that’s not how we’re designed to live. We’re made- we’re hardwired- not to live in balance but to live in rhythm. That is, we’re created to live in segments of high intensity followed by breaks of complete rest.
Power on. Power off. Power on. Power off. Power on. Power off…
That’s not how we usually run things, though. In fact, when we face tough situations we may actually tend to grind away faster and harder, thinking that more effort will help us “fix it,” whatever it is…
Rather than making forward progress, though, the result is often like trying to drive a stuck truck out the mud. The harder you push, the “more stuck” you become. In fact, fairly fast you realize the weight you’re carrying and the energy you’re expending actually work against you. You regress rather than progress…
At some point, in order to unstick a truck you’ve got to pause. You’ve got to step out and knock off some of the mud. That is, you’ve got to be willing to not make progress for a moment in order to actually meaningfully progress at all…
Now think about that- and how it applies to life. And to the hurts and wounds we carry from the hard things we’ve endured. The best way to move forward is (like the computer, the phone, and the truck) to live in rhythm. In fact, that’s the best way to get to wholeness when we’re broken, and it’s the best way to remain there once we make it.
So how can you tell if you’re living in rhythm?
Sometimes, it’s easier to see something based on what it doesn’t look like. After all, if we’re living out of sync, we probably resemble the symptoms of living off-beat rather than living on.
For the remainder of this talk, I’ll outline five signs that you might be out of sync. Here they are-
As we discuss them, I’ll provide you with some tips to move back to the cadence for which you were created.
One of the essential oil blends in Young Living’s Freedom Sleep kit is Valor, an oil usually associated with “facing hard things.” The name is a nod to the Roman soldiers who are said to have placed a similar blend of oils on the soles of their feet and on their shields before marching into battle. Courage, a synonym of Valor, doesn’t deny fear. Rather, it acknowledges the tension of continuing amidst it, anyway. Just like those ancient warriors.
As we met to shoot a video course about the kit, I asked Jim Bob, “Why is Valor in the Sleep kit? Wouldn’t that make more sense in the Freedom Release kit? The Sleep kit is for going to bed. The Release it is for facing the day…”
“Well, it’s true that the Sleep kit is more for pausing to rest and recover and then the Release kit is more for living whole, but sometimes the most courageous thing people can do is to actually stop and pause,” JB said. Then- “Think about how many things people do to occupy themselves in order to avoid being quiet, still, or alone.”
I thought about what he said for a moment. And I thought back to my recent “history” with my phone.
Then I looked down at my mobile phone. It was on. For the most part, it stays on. Even when I sleep, the phone is on.
I thought about the weekly report Apple sends me, detailing how much time I spent on the phone each day- on average. They also outline which apps were the biggest culprits.
“5.5 hours,” one report said.
I looked at it. Closely. That was almost 6 hours per day that my screen was on with my eyeballs facing it!
Yes, I churn a lot of my work on social media, but not that much. I generally create my graphics and write my copy on my computer, then- since my Apple devices sync- I let the content “cross-over” to the phone on its own. Through “the cloud.” I copy and paste the images and text from there. That means that 5.5 hours didn’t include any of my screen time on the laptop, which is the place I actually spent the majority of my “device time.”
In fact, here’s just how much time I spend on the laptop- in addition to that 5.5 hours…
Over the past 12 months- as of typing this webpage you’re currently reading- I wrote in excess of 2,000 pages of content on paper I produced 7 video courses. I created several hundred graphics for social media. Yes, that’s my “job,” but however you slice it, that makes the 5.5 hours of screen time on the phone a bit absurd- because, again, it’s all an add-on to the laptop. And that’s an add-on to the desktop I use to edit our videos.
I decided to knock the screen time down. The phone part. Since I don’t mindlessly surf the Internet from my laptop, only opening it when I’m sitting to actually work, the phone is my culprit.
I cut the time. Quickly. I seriously contemplated removing the apps and turning my smartphone into a “dumb phone,” only deciding not to do so because I would need to grab another phone or an iPad (yet another screen) in order to handle my social media feeds. In the end, it was just easier to do the phone the right way rather than create a series of workarounds.
All those thoughts about the phone rambling in my mind, I looked back at JB. Remember, we were talking about why Valor was in the Sleep kit rather than the Release kit. I shrugged my shoulders. Like the “whatever” emoji in the phone.
“I think you’re right,” I told him. “The last 18 months was the hardest season of my life. During that time I wrote more pages than I imagined possible and I concurrently watched more Netflix series- every show in the entire series- than I can count. I spent a lot of time alone, doing the hard work of the soul, but that was intentional. It would have been easier to turn the TV back on and just stay on my white futon for a few hours…”
“A lot of people are like that,” he said. “That’s why people scroll Facebook while they’re laying in the bed at night…”
“And,” I replied, half-way confessing, “why they hit Instagram first thing in the morning, before they roll out of bed…”
“Yep,” JB continued. “And it’s why they look at their social feeds while sitting at the traffic lights when they’re driving.”
“We’ve lost the ability to just be bored, to just be quiet. To just be alone.”
Then, “Does anybody even sit on the toilet anymore without looking at a phone?”
Good question, right?
I thought about all the alone-time I spent over the past 18 months. Sometimes that was harder than any other thing. That quiet space became the tough place.
I continued, “I understand why Valor is in the Sleep kit, now. The bravest thing some people can do- the most courageous or valiant activity- is to actually stop. Pause. Confront the whispers they hear in the silence.”
I read Michael Hyatt’s book Free to Focus this past year. He writes about doing “less” stuff so that you can really zero-in on what you want to do. Then, he discusses the importance of margin, of living with quiet space. That is, do less stuff. And do it less of the time.
Hyatt tells of a phrase he and his wife learned while traveling through Tuscany while on a sabbatical (he unplugs for an entire month every summer), a dolce far niente. It means “the sweetness of doing nothing.” That is, it’s not only a refusal to fill every space with something, it’s a celebration of that space where nothing else exists.
Hyatt reminds us,
Our brains aren’t designed to run nonstop. When we drop things into neutral, ideas flow on their own, memories sort themselves out, and we give ourselves a chance to rest.
Sufficient sleep keeps us mentally sharp and improves our ability to remember, learn, and grow. It refreshes our emotional state, reduces stress, and recharges our bodies… Meanwhile, going without sleep makes it harder to stay focused, solve problems, make good decisions, or even play with others.
To summarize in my own words, “The quiet space is where the magic happens.”
Turns out, we don’t have any space for magic. We fill it with smartphones + film series + memes + sound-bites + anything else which can hold out attention. We don’t value the pause; we value productivity. And that productivity- whether it’s notching off another project or checking off another social feed or film- often masks the fact that we’re afraid to confront that quiet. To borrow language we used in a previous chapter, sometimes we’re addicted to the noise.
Are you nervous about getting quiet, hitting the pause button, and spending a bit of time on your own in silence…?
That might be a sign you’re living out of rhythm.
When I ran Windows-based computers, it seems like I got a new “Trojan Horse” virus every few weeks. Hidden in email attachments, located in enticing webforms, or buried in software downloads, those pleasant-looking files carried hidden cargo- small warriors waiting to unleash their fury on the hard drive. When they did, the entire system began to drag. The boondoggle was so culturally pervasive that entire companies like McAfee and Norton ballooned overnight by selling somewhat workable solutions to the fiasco.
(It still baffles me that my Mac runs virtually virus-free.)
Now, think of your body like a computer again. In the same way you need a regular reset in order to keep performing, when something goes amok internally, your entire “hard drive” gets sluggish. Most people understand this on a physical level. An upset stomach, a small infection, or a headache can toss your entire body half-speed. Many people don’t realize, though, that the same thing is true emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. When one area gets affected, they’re all affected.
The solution for ridding your computer of a virus is to download the correct software and then to… you probably guessed it… reboot the entire system. That’s right, turn it off.
It almost sounds too simple, doesn’t it?
Yet we don’t do it with our computers because we don’t want the “down time” from work. We can’t pause the output. So, we endure with shoddy operating systems.
The same thing happens in “real life.” To us. We don’t want to slow down. We’re too busy to slow down.
Remember Michael Hyatt’s lines from a few pages ago, though. Sleep is when your body rebuilds and when your mind goes to rest and begins processing and mending and “figuring out” the stuff from your day. It’s when you reset- completely. It’s when you heal.
Oddly enough, this is such a massive concept that even business books are being written- not about mission or vision or the other things we typically attribute to biz- about getting more sleep. And naps.
There are 5 stages of sleep. Most people never get out of that first bit where you’re halfway asleep, halfway awake. That place where dreams and real life blur. That place where you “dream” an intruder is breaking into your home, but it’s just a kid walking into your room and tapping you on the shoulder. That place where you continue waking up confused about what’s real and what’s the dream.
When you don’t get enough rest, it flips your body’s internal cadence upside down and backwards. You begin running on adrenalin at night (such that you can’t sleep) and you begin crashing during the day (you constantly yawn, always need coffee, and desperately crave a nap).
You look Zombie-like.
(Your close friends might even mention it!)
You feel sluggish and sickish.
Remember, too, that your body needs rest when it’s awake, too- space when you’re not looking at your phone, occupying every minute. Your mind craves the quiet- even if your thoughts initially rebel against it.
When’s the last time you day-dreamed?
Turns out, day-dreaming works a lot like sleep. It’s a time when your mind wanders, makes the connections you need, and begins creatively processing hidden data in your hard drive. The majority of my best ideas spontaneously emerge from nothing when I’m not thinking about anything except the exercise I’m enjoying in the moment…
In her book Grunt, Mary Roach recounts her lessons from the military. She says they studied soldiers who lacked sleep and discovered when we get less than 8 hours a night for 2 weeks in a row, we begin operating at the same diminished capacity we would if we had too much to drink. Except we haven’t. And it’s going on all day, every day. It’s like a perpetual hang-over.
Do you feel sluggish or sickish for no legitimate reason?
Think about it. It could be a sign you’re out of rhythm.
I have seven biological kids. At various seasons, I’ve had even more in my home. Each one has their unique personality, their own quirks, and the traits that make them uniquely themselves- even though they’ve all been raised in the exact same environment.
Here’s one thing they all have in common, though: when they were little and got too tired, they all morphed into midget minions.
They got snappy. They fought over toys (even the ones they weren’t even playing with). They couldn’t complete their sentences. They became tyrant-toddlers.
My kids were (they still are) incredible. They were obedient, tender, and looked out for each other. They generally believed the best in others and played.
Unless tired. If they got too tired, all bets were off.
Then, I knew it was time to just say something like, “Hey, you’re manifesting something that’s not quite you… let’s go lay down and start over in an hour or so.”
Or, if it was late in the day, “Let’s go brush your teeth and hit the B-E-D. You don’t even have to take a bath tonight. You've had a long one. Tomorrow is a new day.”
The results were predictably awesome. Every time, the kid awakened as if resurrecting from the dead. Their manners returned, their kindness was back, they were brand new little people. Turns out, they weren’t emotionally devastated- even though they acted like it. They were just tired.
Now, apply this to you.
If you’re having trouble sorting through some clutter, getting along with others, or find yourself overwhelmed with a situation, it may be that you just need more sleep. In the same way toddlers get (legit) crazy and we recognize that they just need a bit of rest so that they can handle reality, adults are the same way.
Are you snappy? Cranky? Like an over-sized toddler a wee bit too much of the time?
It could be a sign… you might be out of rhythm.
Last Fall I found myself sitting in a nearby coffee shop. (I find myself in places like that a lot.) As I finished typing a chapter for a project I was completing, I stared out the oversized storefront window next to my table. Outside, the day was perfect. It wasn’t one of those dreary, grey-colored days that makes you feel foggy.
Yet, as a closed the computer (without turning it off, of course), I thought, “I’m really tired.”
Inside, something was brewing. Something wasn’t quite right…
I looked back outside. Sometimes the weather makes me feel tired, as if my body mimics what happens in the environment. Clearly, this wasn’t that, though.
“Why am I tired?” I pondered. “I went to bed last night around 8pm, watched a movie, and then slept 10 full hours. This doesn’t make sense…”
Then I thought about the bigger life situation in which I found myself. I looked at my phone (always on, right?) and re-read the previous few text messages. A once-close companion had drawn a sword against me. I realized I wasn’t tired as I sat there in the coffee shop, I was depressed…
And, no, I might not have met the clinical definition such that a professional could diagnose, treat, and prescribe me, but I was clearly down…
Now, get this, depression and tiredness often mirror each other. In other words-
Sometimes, you’re both. Other times, your soul (depressed) dictates to your body how it should feel (tired). Then, there are times when your body (tired) makes your soul feel something that might not actually be (depressed).
That day at the coffee shop, I was depressed. Clearly. If I told you the story- the one happening in real life at that moment (and not just one playing in my head) you’d probably agree, “Yeah, I can see why you would be depressed. And I understand why that would make you feel really, really tired.”
I’ve learned a few things about myself through experience.
When I know that I’m not being lazy, that I’m stewarding my time well and proactively doing the work the Lord has granted me to do with diligence, I can confidently take a solid pause when my body tells me I need it. Then, the feelings tend to buff.
Do you ever feel depressed?
You might be. Or you might just be tired. Either way, it might be a sign that you need to step back into rhythm.
Most people can’t- and shouldn’t- make major decisions in the midst of trauma or when they’re unusually tired. When you're in the middle of something hard, the best thing you can do is step back, catch your breathe, and wait. Very rarely will you make things worse by waiting. Rushing, on the other hand, creates all kinds of chaos.
(Also, most truly golden opportunities aren’t “now or never,” regardless of the story we tell ourselves.)
Let me explain via a story…
A few years ago an elder in our church lost in his mother-in-law in a tragic car accident. I was studying at a coffee shop when I received the phone call. Oddly enough, several of the elders and staff members from our church planned to eat dinner at his house that evening. Unmarried, the MIL had been on the way to purchase groceries for us.
This happened on a Saturday. The next week, we all paused everything while we helped him and his wife sort their “new normal.” A few of us joined his wife at the funeral home to navigate caskets and costs and decisions which had to be made for burial. Others kept kids. Others set up meal trains or ran family errands.
I drew three other straws.
First, I accompanied my friend to visit family members and tell them the news. That is, I delivered the “death notices” with him. Due to where he was emotionally, I did most of the talking. It was surreal and raw, as many of the extended family members denied the reality we tenderly delivered to them and expressed completely predictable reactions to hearing tough news.
Second, I rode to the tow truck lot to gather personal effects and remove other belongings from the totaled SUV. His wife didn’t want to see the vehicle in which her mother, who had been her best friend, was killed. Understandably, he didn’t want to go alone. I climbed into the half-crushed car and retrieved several items.
Third, I drove my friend to the law firm where his MIL worked as a paralegal for a big-name attorney in town. Same thing. We needed to gather her belongings like people do when they retire and move out for good. He didn’t want to handle the errand, moving her out of her office ten years too early, by himself.
Looking back at each of these three snapshots, there’s no way he could have made the trek by himself. He had just been T-boned with some of the worse news you can ever hear. There was no prep period for it; it was totally unexpected. It made sense that he needed someone to literally tell him where to go, what to say, and when it was time to leave and move to the next item on his growing list of things to handle postmortem.
While we were at the attorney’s office, he discovered he needed to handle one more thing. And he didn’t want to be there alone for it either- even though it was intensely personal. We needed to resolve her life insurance policy. The firm provided one to care for her family in the event of an unlikely death. In that moment, we stood in the midst of the unlikely event no one thought would ever happen.
“I need you there,” he told me. “I don’t know that I’ll be to remember anything they say, and I’ve never done this before.”
I was honored to go, to be trusted to help him meander through such horrible moments.
We sat in the office, thinking we were about to receive a check for about $10,000- slightly more than the burial expenses. However, the gracious boss before us explained that he and his wife (also a partner at the firm) adored the MIL and her family, and that they increased the original policy on her behalf to provide the same coverage as the partners at the firm received.
“She meant the world to us,” he said. “You never think anything like this will happen, but we wanted to make sure her family was cared for if it ever did.” He reached across the mahogany desk that all attorneys use and handed my friend a check for multiple 6-figures.
As the boss left the room, my friend looked at me. Then, “What do I do with this? I wasn’t expecting it?”
In that moment, I knew he was looking for leadership- for someone to tell him exactly what he should do.
Because he found himself in the middle of trauma. And when unresolved emotions are involved, it’s almost always impossible to see the path forward.
I made a list.
I told him slowly and definitively, “I know you have been looking at minivans and have planned to purchase one for your wife and kids for a few months now. Next week, after the funeral is over and the out-of-town guests have gone home, go pay cash for the van like you already planned to do.”
“That sounds good,” he said. “Then what?”
“Take the rest of this money and put it all in an interest-bearing account for at least one year.”
He started taking notes, writing the instructions I offered him.
I continued, “Don’t touch the money for a year. None of it. You don’t need to make an emotional decision about it. That means not to tithe any of it to our church, not to go do something emotionally-charged in the moment like take everyone in the extended family on a vacation… just let it sit. You weren’t expecting it. You don’t need it to pay your bills. Time will give you perspective on how to make the most of what she’s left you and your family.”
Then, after a few moments, I added, “And don’t tell anyone about this money except for your wife. People will come out of the woodwork wanting money if they know you have it. Keep it quiet.”
I also suggested he run my advice by the other three guys who ran the church with us (and their wives), those elders who had been picking up the slack since the car accident. But that was it. Vault it. For at least 365 days.
A year later- almost to the date- my friend approached me after church one Sunday morning.
“We just dropped a check in the offering,” he said. “It was from that insurance settlement. Thank you for telling me to wait to do anything with the money. You were right."
As his wife pulled up outside in the white van she’d been driving for the past 11 months or so, he continued, “We would have made so many bad decisions in the moment if we didn’t have someone looking in from outside the situation telling me that it was OK- and even best- to just pause for a while. Getting some distance between us and the accident helped bring some perspective. Thank you.”
“You would have done the same thing,” I offered. “When you're in crisis, the best thing to do is to let someone you trust help guide you. It’s hard to make a decision in those moments. It’s best if you can just recover and lean on someone else for a little while.”
As I mentioned earlier, I worked in drug rehabs, homeless shelters, and prison reentry programs for about about 8 years. Everyday I encountered people in crisis. This one was fleeing an abusive situation. That one was facing court. The other one was staring down legal ramifications that finally caught up with them…
These people were all in some form of crisis.
I learned I’m actually skilled at making wise decisions amidst crisis. I don’t freeze. I don’t fight. I don’t get frightened. I can see it all, as if in slow motion- even though you have to sometimes make quick decisions. And, I provide sound counsel that always benefits the other person.
Unless it’s my own crisis, that is. Then, since I’m personally involved and invested in the outcome, it’s hard for me to navigate. I’m too emotionally charged. At that point, I need to pause and let someone else steer me.
Like most people, I can’t make good decisions when I’m tired or knee deep in trauma. So, unless forced to, I don’t even try. I step back. I pause. I gather perspective.
Have you been through a traumatic experience lately?
That’s hard work. And it’s hard to rest and reset while you’re in the middle of it. For your long-term health + wholeness, it’s worth stepping back and making sure you move into rhythm.
Young Living has two kits related to emotional hurts and wounds… for invisible scars. The Freedom Sleep kit and the Freedom Release kit work together.
Somehow, in my mind, I mentally placed the Release kit first. But that’s not the way they work. It’s not the way we’re designed to work. Young Living suggests you use the Sleep kit for 30 days, followed by the Release kit for 30 days.
In the Healthy Hustle book I wrote about the way in which the ancient Hebrews viewed a 24-hour day. They began their days at sunset, not sunrise. That is, they began with the evening- with rest. That’s why we see the refrain through that Genesis 1 that “there was evening and then morning, the _________ day.”
The kits acknowledge that the rhythm of Creation is rest first- then work. It’s the cadence that’s true for all of life- particularly for doing the hard work of handling emotional hurts.
Rather than minimizing our hurts (something we tend to do) and then pushing forward, we acknowledge them. We slow down. We rest, allowing whatever needs to surface to make it’s way up- free from the clutter that pushes it down. We recharge. We may find we’re still wounded, but at that point we’re able to move forward.
Reflect on what you’ve just learned about emotional freedom, those five signs that you might be out of rhythm:
Remember, like we saw with the wounded wrestler, many times a simple un-rushed pause is enough to provide the grace and space you need to recuperate and then continue.
When you’re ready, go to the next talk. I’m going to tell you about something that’s more powerful than PTSD yet, at the same time, has an uncommonly simple cure.
Links for this talk
Claim Your Freedom (book)- https://amzn.to/2xwQcEY
Healthy Hustle (book)- https://amzn.to/2DIGrX2
Video course referenced on Emotional Freedom- go to www.OilyApp.com/Freedom
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