“The whole world can't lick us but we can lick ourselves by longing too hard
for things we haven't got any more - and by remembering too much.”
– Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
“You cannot find strength by loathing.”
– Lailah Gifty Akita
We long for cloudless days, a slimmer body, time off, fine wine, erotic love, a long life, fame and fortune. We long for justice, happy endings and long, restful evenings. There often seems no end to the things for which we long.
In the world of private thought, “longing” seems the most natural of human forces. What power they hold! Longing incites our imagination and motivates us to help those we love and those who suffer.
But, there are perils. Longing can hijack our lives and, too easily, cause disappointment, suffering and, in extreme cases, depression. When we long, it is said, we risk losing the moment. Can we resist? Unlikely. Instead, our challenge is to identify when longing turns from idle wonder to unhappiness – that is worth knowing.
Which leads to our first three questions: What do you long for? How much time do you spend longing? and Do your longings energize or enervate?
And then there’s loathing – longings’ evil twin. We long for Friday afternoons and loath Monday mornings. We long for the “good ’ole days” and loath daily demands. We loath public speaking, final exams, traffic, taxes, and household chores, and long for the moment they’re complete.
What do you loath? How much time do you spend loathing? and Do your loathings lift you up or drain your spirit?
Our challenge is not to resist, says author Steve Hagen, but to recognize when longing and loathing interfere with our lives. Says Hagen: “When you notice that your mind is caught up in longing and loathing – leaning toward or away from something – don't try to stop it from leaning. As we've seen, trying to make a leaning mind stop leaning is just another form of leaning. ('I really want not to have a leaning mind'). Just be aware when your mind is leaning, and realize what leaning of mind actually is. With practice and attention to this moment, your mind will, of its own accord, lean less.”
As for rest and relaxation, healthywellbeing.com encourages us to listen to relaxing music, to sleep, to stretch, or do yoga. Or, perhaps, do nothing at all. They suggest that we: 1. Schedule time to rest and relax; 2. Ask for help from friends and family to take care of the kids; 3. Cancel unimportant appointments; and 4. Share housework/chores and responsibilities with others.
So, when opportunity strikes, try a little less L&L and a little more R&R. You’ll be healthier for it.