The Rhythm is Gonna Get You!

“What are you failing to notice?”

I ask myself and my coaching clients this question often. It helps in seeing things differently. It allows us to ask different questions and make changes .

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.” — R.D. Laing

It’s fall here in the south of France. I used to love this time of year, but this year I’ve felt particularly sluggish in the mornings and much less productive than I’ve been all year. As a go-getter, I don’t like this sensation. And as a result, fall is now my third favorite season. I understand there are times in our lives when we need to relax, slow down, and take it a bit easier, but when I think about all the work I’ve got to accomplish, struggling to get out of bed in the morning goes against what I feel I need right now.

But this morning I noticed something. It’s my second autumn here in France, but it’s the first where I didn’t feel stressed about my ability to stay here long term. I feel good. I sleep well. I am happy. So then, why is it that I feel unmotivated to get up and start my days? I’ve felt this way since the beginning of October.

Yes, I’m getting older, and I’m sure that has something to do with it, but this sluggishness became pronounced as summer gave way to fall. I mentioned my concern to a friend and told her that the darker mornings were cramping my style. She seemed a bit surprised but shed no light on my problem.

This morning, I lay in bed questioning my constitution. What was wrong with me all of a sudden? Was I getting sick? Was the freedom of entrepreneurship catching up with me? I started drinking more water recently because I recognized that maybe I was a bit dehydrated and that that could be causing my laziness. And I have bit more energy during the days now, but I struggle, still, to wake up and get going in the mornings. What was happening to me?

I looked out the window, and it was still almost pitch black. Then I turned to glance at the clock and it read 7:30 am. How could that be? I thought. When I was in Richmond and heading to work in the fall, had it been this dark? I questioned, picturing myself driving to work at 7:30 in the morning. No, Never. I felt sure of my recollection. This caused me to ask different questions: Could the difference in the hour of sunrise be that great? Could the darkness impact my energy to such a degree?

I immediately googled sunrise on my smartphone, and to my surprise, it said the sun would come up at 8:10 a.m. for my village, and at 7:24 a.m. for Richmond. That was almost a full 45 minutes later than at my old home. I’ve heard that light impacts our circadian rhythm and regulates the production of melatonin and our sleep, but I had not considered the difference in the time of sunrise in what I’ve been experiencing.

Understanding this was freeing. It felt good to know that there was something other than my increasing age at play here. I am not a victim, and I won’t blame or lean on the later sunrise as an excuse for staying in bed later. In a few days, France will set the clocks back for the season, and that will help a bit. But noticing the impact that light has on me and knowing that this is the situation here, I can put things in place to make it easier for my body to rise and shine earlier, even when the sun isn’t. I can get an alarm clock that simulates the sunrise or use some other form of light therapy to help my body adjust.

At the very least, I can forgive myself and know that there is nothing wrong with me and that I’m not getting lazy all of a sudden. This was the overarching concern I’d had, and it was not putting me in a positive state of mind first thing in the morning. Now I can put that matter to bed.

Digging into a nagging concern and asking a different question allowed me to notice something I had not considered. It allowed me to recognize that I am not always the cause of or in control of what is happening. Now I can take action on the situation should I desire to improve it.

When I moved to France, I knew that so much would be different for me — the language, the culture, navigating the administrative system, finding my place in life again — but never had I considered that the time the sun came up would impact me to such a degree. Sunlight matters!

What are you failing to notice?



Bold, fledgling entrepreneur, author, podcast host Discovering Courage, Finding Freedom, Living in France! Adventures.Insights. Stories.

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