NC Weekly 13: Is the grass greener where you water it? – Lessons from taking time off

(Note: This post was initially published as part of my newsletter. )

I was reading an email from Peep Laja the other day, just when I was about to go back to normal life after a week of chill and exploring in Umbria, Italy.

Typically, I’m a ferocious reader. I’m always listening to audiobooks, doing intense thinking, and talking to smart people. One great idea that I receive generates 20 new ones in my mind, and I’m constantly filled with insights.

Not so much right now.

My lesson learned here is that to get new ideas and insights—that you might want to share with others—you need to stimulate your mind. The grass is greener where you water it.

When I approached the blank page today to write this, my mind was the same. Completely blank.

It’s true, in order to get new ideas to share, we have to continuously seek stimulation, and only when we take some time away from it, we realize what floating in this blank space feels like: it’s uncomfortable.

Flipping comfort upside down

I love how Derek Sivers defines doing uncomfortable things:

It takes many hours to make what you want to make. The hours don’t suddenly appear. You have to steal them from comfort. Whatever you were doing before was comfortable. This is not. This will be really uncomfortable.

It’s been a year since I actually took time off for longer than just the weekend, and you know what? Constantly being stimulated and doing stuff can become the comfortable thing. It can become addictive. What really feels uncomfortable after a while, is taking some damn downtime and just chilling.

The FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) can be crippling.

What if I don’t read all the newsletters I get every day? What if I don’t get ahead with that project I’ve been putting off for 3 months?! What if I don’t save at least a cool idea every day that I can use for my writing??

What if instead, I just relax and don’t fill my head with stuff for once?

Even though my reading habits have improved over the past months, I’m aware that my mind basically never switches off from work/stimulus mode. Don’t get me wrong, I love the projects I’m working on, but like our muscles need rest to adapt and recover, so do our minds.

I think Peep is right in saying that the grass is greener where you water it, but sometimes we have to let nature run its course, without forcing it. The seasons change, grass sometimes dries up and dies, only to be spurred back up by spring’s rain. And the cycle continues.

It’s the law of impermanence and it’s true for knowledge as well.

What last week’s vacation taught me, is that it’s ok if I don’t get new ideas all the fucking time or if I’m not constantly processing philosophical thoughts at the speed of light.

Whenever I’m just chilling and thoughts of the impending blank space come up, all I have to do is remind myself one thing:

This too, will change.

So I better enjoy it while it lasts.


Here are this week’s top finds:

Video / Audio / Written combo

Academy of ideas Youtube channel

  • Super insightful 10 minutes videos diving into some really cool concepts from philosophy, to psychology and mindset.

Thought bubble

Have a great week (and take some time to just chill)!

Chris