Do you know what it was … the original American dream? I had no idea myself until I read an article recently from financial writer, Chris Mayer.
It seems the phrase was coined by a guy named James Truslow Adams in 1930, and the dream wasn’t about getting ahead and having the house and car and boundless opportunity in the land of the free.
It was about having free time!
You know, getting out from under the thumb of the man and having the time to do the things you wanted to do rather than the things you had to do to survive. The time to pursue your interests, your passions. The time to relax and enjoy life.
If you’re saying, “Free time … what’s that?” you’re not alone. Seems like everybody’s going all out nearly all the time. They’re busy “taking care of business.”
Wait a minute. That’s me I’m talking about.
I’m crazy busy. I run a business. I’m a wife and mother. I’m co-raising my grandchildren in my home, all while helping my elderly parents as they enter a fragile time in their lives.
So, there goes my American Dream, right? Say so long to free time. I couldn’t possibly get away and relax. I have too much to do.
Well, that’s what I tell myself. (Is this ringing a bell for anybody?)
But is it true? Can I really not do it or have I simply gotten so wound up in the story of I’m too busy to claim the dream and take the time?
I’ll let you decide.
My husband suggested a long weekend in Palm Springs this last weekend, I practically scoffed at the absurdity of the suggestion.
But you know what? I went and it was wonderful. To be honest, I did do a little work while away.
I worked on this article, for instance, and also worked on an upcoming presentation. But I did it poolside while soaking up the sun!
And guess what? I feel relaxed.
I could, in fact, do it. I could claim my free time. I could relax. Things didn’t fall apart.
And here’s what I realized. Taking time off and relaxing or doing something I want to do “just because” has been the last thing on my to-do list. It simply wasn’t a priority.
Big mistake. I’ve treated time off as important … but not THAT important. If something had to give, it gave.
Exercise. Nutrition. Now, those are important to me. Those are high priorities. I work out and eat well even on those days life is crazy and I’m in firefighting mode.
But taking time to relax and enjoy life isn’t that important.
I wouldn’t have confessed that in so many words, but that’s what my actions said. Even though I always enjoyed my free time, I almost took it somewhat reluctantly, as if I were playing hooky. I did it for the same reason I go to the dentist … because I know it’s good for me. It’s necessary.
That’s the wrong mindset.
From now on, I’m taking time to relax on a regular basis, whether that’s sipping wine with my hubby at our favorite local spot or getting away for a weekend change of scenery … or taking a whole week off to do whatever!
And I’m doing it because enjoying free time is a big part of what makes life worth living. I’m living the American Dream!
Do I have the time? No and yes. Think about it. What better time to take time than now … when life is so hectic?
To quote Sidney J. Harris, a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a very wise man:
“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
Amen Mr. Harris. Amen. I get it now.