Is it really a waste of time?

I was reminded again the other day about the story of the frog in boiling water. For anyone who doesn’t know it, I’ll repeat it briefly: If a frog jumps into a pot of boiling water, it’s hot, so he jumps straight back out. But if a frog jumps into a pot of cool water which is slowly but steadily heated up, even once the water reaches boiling point, he will not realise and so stays in it. While the first frog will be a bit burnt, he will recover. The second frog will die, without having any idea that the water is killing him.

I’ve always found it a powerful metaphor for stress, and our ability to recognise the level of stress we may be under. Some people see stress and simply side-step it. But not only are there situations where we don’t see this as an option, there are situations where we don’t believe that our level of stress is reaching the point where it seriously endangers our health. I’ve experienced both of these.

I’m a life coach, but could never be one of those high energy, high achiever ones, because I’ve lived with high stress levels for much of my life and experienced burnout as a result. So, while I have a good work ethic and a responsible nature, I know the importance of self-care, and I see the value in a bit of time wasting 🙂 Taking a moment to smile because the sun is shining and doing that British thing of sharing your pleasure in sunshine with your friends, your colleagues, or random people you bump into at the shops. There’s chuckling at that cute e-mail your friend sent you with kittens, or puppies, or laughing babies. There’s that witty meme doing the rounds where some politician you don’t like ends up looking really foolish. There’s chatting to your friend(s) about nothing in particular.

Does doing that type of stuff give you joy? Do you feel pleasure in those moments? Because if you do, how can it be a waste of time? Of course, like all things, there’s a line to tread and a balance to be found. Work needs to be done, the house needs cleaning, the children need to be fed, we need to maintain good health, pay our bills etc… So, if you spend all your time doing time-wasting things then, yes, that is a problem. But if you don’t take the time to – actually or metaphorically – smell the flowers once in a while, then you’d be wasting the opportunity for some of life’s simple pleasures.

We’re all busy, busy, busy. Somehow it feels almost sinful not to be. It’s almost as if we’re afraid of being judged, or of finding we have nothing to do. There’s a great cartoon I’d love to share but for copyright reasons – three constructions workers in hard hats holding up signs, the first says: Stop! The second says: Smell the Flowers! and the last: Resume tearing through your life like a Maniac! 🙂

In the UK, there’s an advertising campaign for KitKats – chocolate covered wafer fingers – where you’re encouraged to “Have a break, have a KitKat!” Oddly enough, KitKats are the chocolate bar I got a taste for when I gave up smoking during my pregnancy. Even though I don’t have a sweet tooth, and my choice of break taking doesn’t involve chocolate, I still look upon KitKats fondly – as much for that memory as for the strapline.

How do you take a break? What do you do to waste time relieve stress and get some mindless pleasure?

© Debra Carey, 2022

18 thoughts on “Is it really a waste of time?

Add yours

  1. I read something light, like a rom com or an organizing book, or a you go girl type. Sometimes I play a game on my iPad. Home decorating shows also work

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So true. Those little moments are marvels, whether it’s watching your dog joyfully wheel around like a bucking bronco while shaking a new toy, or sitting in the sunshine admiring the butterfly garden. Or cheering for your healthy kid charging down the pitch.

    Find joy. Because sorrow has no trouble finding you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been that frog in the cool water where the heat is gradually turned up to boiling for most of my adult life – in my marriages and my career. Because of that, I appreciate every moment of my current, much more stress-free life. You nailed it in this post, Debs. Take in every moment and practice gratitude for every little thing that brings you peace and joy.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. You raise such an important topic, Debs. Stopping and thinking about what brings you joy is key, yet something so many people I know never consider. It’s almost always the small things that bring those moments of joy, usually easily accessible not but necessarily reached for.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Deb, you’ve absolutely nailed it in your current life, so nailed it that I would describe you as lifestyle goals ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jane, I love the wisdom of your final sentence. If we don’t do something as simple as reaching, we’ll never experience the joy they’ll bring. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have a few books that I guess are comfort books. I’ve read them a zillion times, but they’re there for when things aren’t going well and the stress level might be high. For some reason, they always manage to calm me down. A couple of them to back to childhood! – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  8. As a recovering work-a-holic, I know constant hard work and self-sacrifice will not always lead to success. More often, those things lead to burnout. We all need to take breaks and find balance in our lives, and successful people who say they don’t do that are probably not being honest with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good call out there James 😀 I remember telling people in the past how much I thrived on stress – ha! I need deadlines, that’s for sure, but constant stress is a whole other ballgame.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There needs to be a happy medium. You don’t want life to get boring either. But feeling overloaded is a far more common problem than the opposite right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I couldn’t agree more, Debs. If something makes you smile, it’s hardly a waste of time. There’s a difference between scrolling through those memes or checking emails to avoid doing something we are putting off and taking a break to smell the flowers. Most of the time, I can instinctively tell the difference. If the activity creates more stress instead of joy, it’s probably a means of procrastination.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Christie, thank you, that’s a good way to self-identify the difference between the two.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

A Website.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: