How can the ancient tradition of Sabbath help you perform better at work and feel energized and much more creative?
The ancient idea of Sabbath – setting aside time for rest and reflection – makes sense in modern times, too, and not just in a religious way. How often do you set aside some time for yourself where you entirely alter your routines? That is what is supposed to happen on the Sabbath, or on a sabbatical, which comes from the same root word.
Sabbaticals are sometimes necessary if we are to stay fresh and creative. As an example, a highly successful businessman took nine weeks off from his job. He called it a sabbatical, and he went to Maine where he designed a barn and took a photography course. When he came back to work, he was filled with new ideas and felt much better equipped to lead.
Now, perhaps you are not in a position to take nine weeks off. But no matter how busy you are, you can build in some time for short sabbaticals, even if they are only two or three days at a time. Get off the main thoroughfare of your life and live in an entirely different way for a while! Walk instead of ride. Plant trees if you work in an office. Take a computer class if you plant trees for a living. You get the idea. Give yourself the opportunity to gain a new perspective, a new understanding.
In his book, “When – The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing,” Daniel Pink references several studies on the human attention span, and how it fluctuates during the average day. In order to keep focus, he posits five guiding principles: 1) Something beats nothing; in other words, five minutes of a break is better than none. 2) Moving beats stationary – get up! 3) Social beats solo. While this may be a challenge right now, even a short phone call – not about work – helps shift focus. 4) Outside beats inside – even if it’s just a walk down the street and back. And 5) Fully detached beats semi-detached. In other words, walk away and make a complete break.
While the human brain may love the labor-saving devices that habits bring, the brain also needs new input. We want to create new neural pathways. The brain is entirely capable of growing, no matter what our age, and we do that with new experiences. We all deserve a new perspective – a break, if you will – every so often. You will find yourself feeling refreshed, revitalized and renewed. Even if it’s for one hour a day, give it a try.