Do you DO free time?
When we were kids, we all pretty much knew how to DO free time, didn’t we? We knew how to ‘hang out’.
But, then, as we grew up and were trained, first in school then in our work lives either inside or outside the home, we learned to keep busy and goal-oriented.
This term often comes up in psychiatry referring to a person’s thinking patterns. Are they ‘goal-oriented’? Or not so much….
Well, what if we re-learned to NOT be so goal-oriented all the time?
How would this change our lives? Would it increase the quality of life?
For you and me, I think so, and here’s why:
In order to build the fundamental bonds of ‘relationship’ with other people, as well as within ourselves, I believe that we need to allow a certain amount of unstructured, non-goal-directed time.
We must spend TIME. No way around it. Can’t make it ‘efficient’ or easier or more streamlined.
It requires time.
We need to re-learn how to just ‘hang out’.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s absolutely fantastic how our children (and we) have learned to be able to accomplish SO much in our lives.
I, for example, run a private practice, serve the community at a clinic, am an expert witness in court regularly, write this blog, write books, am helping raise two children, and am partially responsible for several different species of animals in our house that we lovingly call our pets.
And you have your list just as well.
BUT can you and I learn to just Stop all of our ‘goal-directed’ activity sometimes and find some peace in being able to just hang out with our kids, our spouses, friends, neighbors, OR our animals?
I’m talking free-form, unstructured, free time here.
It’s what feeds the soul, and it’s what feeds our relationships and helps build them; can’t be done without it.
Many a couple have come into my office feeling distant and disconnected from each other.
After some time, and after they’ve learned to communicate with each other in more productive and less destructive ways, sometimes they’re still feeling somewhat distant.
THIS is one example of where the idea of DOING free time together comes in.
Couples actually need to spend some unstructured, non-agenda driven time with each other in order to allow for growth in the relationship between them.
We need to get back to being able to just hang out with one another.
To observe each other.
To hear each other.
To learn from and about each other.
To be friends.
(BTW, this last one doesn’t hold for parent/child relationships, where we are definitely NOT supposed to be their friends, but that’s for another post.)
In the movie ‘RV’, starring Robin Williams, the main character’s wife tries to explain to another couple how it seems that, in a marriage, things start out so exciting and wonderful but end up with the spouses becoming ‘partners in the business of life’.
Interestingly enough, the couple she is talking to lives in a Partridge Family-style bus and travels the country year-round in a VERY free-form way. Needless to say, they do NOT identify at all with what she’s talking about; they spend LOTS of time hanging out together.
But WE do, don’t we?
Take a moment to consider HOW you spend time with your family, as well as with your friends and neighbors.
Are you always pretty much in Drive?
Or do you sometimes actually Park and stay a while?
If the answers to the above are Yes and No, respectively, then please consider Deliberately practicing how to DO some free time.
To your health,
Anthony Ferraioli, M.D.
Author, Don’t Get Married! (Unless You Understand A Few Things First)
Cobwebs and Ugly Wallpaper