by Todd Fulginiti

My family and I are big Disney fans. We’ve seen nearly all of the major movies more than once. We have long stretches of many films memorized. Music, dialogue, artwork; the whole thing. Our conversations with each other often consist of random Disney movie quotes and references that we all recognize. It’s fun for us, but probably really annoying to everybody who doesn’t know what we’re talking about.

One of my favorite Disney movie scenes comes from Aladdin, with Robin Williams voicing the Genie. Near the end of the story, when the Genie becomes free, Aladdin asks the Genie to do something for him. At that point, Genie models for us an important behavior. He says NO. Plain and simple. Actually, he screams “NO WAY!”, but you get the idea.

Genie isn’t being lazy, spiteful, or a punk. He’s just doing something we all have a right to do. That is, to protect our own peace, balance and happiness. He knows that accepting Aladdin’s request would knock his life out of balance just moments after he had gained the freedom to decide what that balance is. He says no to that. He screams it. And he’s right to do it.

As kids growing up, we learn the importance of sharing our gifts with others. We even hear that we have a responsibility to get involved and to use our gifts and skills to help make our community better. To whom much is given, much is expected.

I believe completely in these lessons. But, I also believe in the Genie’s wisdom. That is, that keeping yourself balanced and at peace is crucial to succeeding at the other lessons. Balance and peace have to come first. Sometimes that means saying “no” to activities and to people. That may not always be an easy thing, but it certainly is not always a bad thing. What is a bad thing, is over extending ourselves to the point where we are always stressed or always tired; with no time for leisure or for doing the things that recharge us and keep us able to make meaningful contributions to the projects we choose to take on.

Individual work/play balances vary greatly. We need to accept that from each other and not be too quick in labelling others as slackers. We need also to accept that from ourselves and not allow guilt or self-hate to overshadow the balance we are trying to create. It may be a delicate and difficult road to travel, but the other roads lead to places like exhaustion, depression and burnout.

So when you’re feeling overwhelmed or over worked and need a break, take one. The world is most likely not going to end if we call time-out to regain peace and balance in our lives. Afterwards, we can return to our activities in a better state. At peace, in balance, more productive.

So skip that meeting, cancel that rehearsal, reschedule that appointment. Take a hike, go shopping, have a nap or watch a movie. I can recommend several good Disney films…

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