It may sound ridiculous but people need to learn to chill. I’m not talking about “vegging” or “zoning” out. I am talking about achieving a state of being: super chill.
That is, a state of well-being that includes physical as well as mental ease. Decompression. Rejuvenation.
Are you over stressed or anxious? Are Mondays uphill battles? Do you find yourself needing a vacation from your vacation? – If so, you need to learn to CHILL.
What follows is a practical guide to becoming super chill. It is by no means comprehensive, but it is accessible for anyone. The approach is also scalable to any length of time, be it ten minutes, an hour, or a week. And taking up any one of these points will improve your frame of mind. Try several, or all, of the below for full benefit.
1) Put Your House in Order
Does this surprise you? Being super chill is not a function of laziness. Proper relaxation does in fact require some preparation. To avoid getting stuck here, focus on some basic elements:
- Stock up on groceries and plan simple (healthy) meals and snacks. This enables you to stay put and avoid preoccupation with filling your belly.
- Pay the bills. With online bill payment tools you can schedule payments for when money is available. Get that business out of the way.
- Deal with emails and messaging. Create “out-of-office” notifications. Or, as far as you can, just ignore the influx of communication noise.
2) Unplug, Turn-Off – Rock On
If you can, go someplace where there is no cell-phone service and no internet connections. And no television! It’s harder and harder to find such places now. You may need to take initiative and turn your devices off. Media is distracting, addicting and mind numbing. That is the opposite of chill.
If you can’t go a full day without these things, try to go at least an hour. As part of this approach, it will make a huge difference in your peace of mind.
3) Ditch the “To-Do” List
Nothing will kill your chill quite like a long list of things to do. One of the best pieces of travel advice I ever received was to set very few priorities for each day. If you try to do too much, you’ll be always thinking about the next thing instead of absorbing the current thing. And you’ll wear yourself out.
The same principle applies here. When you’re trying to chill, give yourself no more than one or two priorities for the duration. It might be reading a chapter of a book or doing a load of laundry. Period. We’re talking about the inverse of productivity here.
4) Record Gratitude
I wrote about the benefits of keeping a Gratitude Log in a previous essay. You can read or revisit that topic here. There is surprising value in jotting down things you are thankful for, even if you don’t make a daily practice of it.
Nothing will refill your chill so much as an attitude of gratitude.
5) Take a Stroll
A casual walk is a great way to unwind. Don’t think of it as exercise. It’s even better if you have no destination in mind. More random = more chill.
Yes, exercise is good for you. Yes, it can improve your energy and feeling of well-being. A good power walk or three mile run can even be one of your key priorities for the day. But the right idea is fresh air and blood flow, not heart rate, not goal setting, not repetitions. Chill.
6) Go Barefoot
Take those shoes and socks off! Feel the soft carpet, or green grass, on your souls. Lin Yutang, a Chinese philosopher, was right: only when your toes are free is your mind free. Only when your mind is free can you be super chill.
7) Get Outside and Write Haiku
Don’t write poetry, you say? What the heck is a “haiku,” you ask? – Chill. It’s easy!
Haiku is short-form poetry, which originated in Japan. The form consists of three lines of verse, each with a limited syllable count (5-7-5). An example, of my own composition:
I take counsel with
these trees, while cicadas chirp
the same patient law.
Unless you choose to share, the poems are for your eyes only. How good the poem is (from a literary perspective) is beside the point. This is about attentiveness to your surroundings. And the clarity that comes from brevity is liberating. Because they are such short poems, it takes only minutes to write one. Give it a try. It’s a great meditation!
8) Read Seneca or Lao Tzu
Seneca, a Roman statesman, was a preeminent Stoic philosopher. Epictetus was another great one, although Marcus Aurelius may be the most famous. I recommend reading stoic philosophers for their clarity, brevity, and teaching serenity. Here is a sample of Seneca:
Two elements must therefore be rooted out once for all, the fear of future suffering, and the recollection of past suffering; since the latter no longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet.
Boom. That is super chill in a nut shell. The stoics are a wonderful resource.
Another resource comes from the Far East. Taoist philosophy is best accessed in the writings of Lao Tzu. Taoism is much like stoicism, but deeper and more poetic:
Man at his best, like water,
Serves as he goes along:
Like water he seeks his own level,
The common level of life,
Loves living close to the earth,
Living clear down in his heart,
Loves kinship with his neighbors,
The pick of words that tell the truth,
The even tenor of a well-run state,
The fair profit of able dealing,
The right timing of useful deeds,
And for blocking no one’s way
No one blames him.
The writings of Seneca and Lao Tzu are at once realist, practical, easy to grasp and – you guessed it – super chill. You can profit from this wisdom with even the briefest study of their work.
9) Stop and Watch the Ants, Fish, Waves or Flames
The soothing qualities of a good fire or the splash of waves on a beach may be well known. Don’t miss out on the amazing properties of watching ants plodding along in the grass. Or fish going about their business in a tank or shallow lake. Add these to the list.
Nature counsels us with its gentle persistence.
10) Stay Sober
While one or two adult beverages can take the edge off and help you relax, you don’t want it to become a “party.” Intoxication has its merits. But it can become as bad a distraction as your smartphone. If you must have a drink, learn to sip.
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The Importance of Being Super Chill:
“The mind must be given relaxation,” writes Seneca, in On Tranquility of the Mind, “it will rise improved and sharper after a good break.” – While our careers and families demand so much of us, we know we need our downtime. But even the things we do for fun can leave us drained, rather than recharged.
The weekends are always too short. Our vacations often become a different kind of hustle. We need to learn to chill. I hope this helps!
Tags: chill, meditation, performance, personal best, stoicism