Because my great-grandparents grew olives, I’ve learned a lot about olive trees over the years. Olives are an “alternate bearing crop,” which means that they produce a lot of fruit one year, then basically rest the following year (producing what is called a “short crop”).
The more I think about this phenomenon, the more I think it speaks volumes about how to lead a happy—and fruitful—life. In addition to being a symbol of peace, olives are also a metaphor for how rest is a route to productivity.
In today’s hyperbusy world, most people don’t rest much. I can certainly be guilty of this, which you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been getting this newsletter for long. Rest is a topic I return to again and again in my Happiness Tips, my online classes, and my speaking engagements.
Here’s what I’ve learned: It is a myth that we succeed through unceasing and tireless effort. Yes, research does find that consistent and deliberate practice leads to elite performance in many fields. But focused work and consistent practice are not the same thing as unending work. Olympic athletes must rest or they get hurt. Fruit trees forced to produce for more than one season lose their ability to bear fruit. And us worker bees can slowly develop sleep debt so deep and burnout so profound that we are left too exhausted to function.
All of this is to say that I hope that you are taking a lot of time to rest this summer!
May you be happy,
PS: If you’d like to read more of my posts on sleep, rest, and taking time off work, check out this post.