These Two Thoughts Can Improve Your Life

There are two thoughts that work well individually, but even better together. Both thoughts are true, but since they are at opposite ends of the work/rest spectrum, they naturally balance each other out in a healthy way.

The first thought is something that we’ve all realized at certain points in life, but may have forgotten.

“I’m more capable than I think or feel.”

We are mostly limited by our minds, not our bodies. Perhaps the greatest human challenge is BUD/s training and its aptly named “Hell Week.” The ones who make it through Hell Week aren’t the fittest or strongest ones, but the mentally toughest ones who are able to tap into the realization that they can continue on despite feeling broken and defeated.

We are very powerful, very capable beings. On most days, we fall well short of our potential for the simple reason that we (falsely) believe that we’ve hit our limit, which is often arbitrary and based on expectations as much as anything. I recommend that you test this theory. The next time you feel like you’ve hit your limit, whether it’s during a workout or work session or something else, challenge that thought and see if you can continue. I bet that you can! I bet you that you can double what you initially perceived as the limit.

This is the notion that we hear most about in books and articles—that we only use 20% of our brain and we’re so much more capable than we realize and so on. While it’s true, the downside is that it can potentially put us into a mindset where we burn out trying to squeeze every drop of potential out of ourselves. But there’s another truth that nicely counterbalances this one.

“I deserve as much rest as I need or want.”

I woke up feeling tired this morning. Based on the time, I felt like I should get up, and began to feel shame for wanting to sleep more. But then I realized that I’m an adult with the freedom to sleep when I deem it necessary or helpful (not based on preconceived notions). I slept another hour and woke up refreshed and ready to take on the day.

If I had denied myself the opportunity to rest more based on what I thought I “should” do, then I would have been groggy and relatively unproductive for the entire day. I know because I’ve done it before! But since I gave myself the space and freedom to rest as much as I felt I needed, I woke up ready to attack the day.

I really like this idea because too many cultures glorify sleep deprivation. The only real accomplishment of sleep deprivation is poorer health. While it’s true that less sleep means more hours to get things done, time spent working is not the best measure of productivity. I’ve had one hour focused work sessions that were far more effective than some six hour distracted work sessions.

When you combine these two thoughts, you can the complete picture that we’re extraordinarily capable beings that need to be recharged to be at our best.

  1. I’m more capable than I think or feel.
  2. I deserve as much rest as I need or want.

Don’t underestimate yourself, but don’t deprive yourself of rest either. There are times to push it and times to relax. Don’t accept the shame and pressure from society telling you that we don’t need breaks, naps, and down time. Rest hard, and you’ll be able to work hard.

This counterbalanced combination of thoughts can greatly improve your life and enjoyment of work. There’s great synergy here, because a fully rested person will really be able to stretch their limits, especially if they trust themselves to allow for recovery.

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