Got an email from someone in Brazil yesterday talking about stress. In the middle there was a question. How much does a glass of water weigh? Half a pound? A pound? It depends on the amount of water and the weight of the glass. But that is not the point.
Let’s say a half a pound water glass doesn’t weigh much if you hold the glass up for 10 secs. It also doesn’t weigh much if you hold it up for a minute. But what if you held the same glass for an hour? Your arm would probably be sore. Now what about for a whole day? You would probably end up in a hospital with major circulation issues.
So is stress. If you can rest and recharge there are no major consequences to your well- being. But if you just keep on going without replenishing yourself with emotional and psychological nourishment, you will most likely crash.
I love the post below. I especially love it today because I have not followed my own advice and insights. I’ve over done it. I got stressed and I burned out.
It all hit me yesterday. I’m an excellent multi-tasker and when I’m not watching, I pride myself of such quality. I also – when I’m not watching – pride myself in my never ending search for perfection. Let me qualify “I’m not watching”. It means both of these qualities – multi-tasker and perfectionist – taken to extremes are very detrimental. So I try to keep an eye on myself as not to get my excellent qualities to over perform.
There is a “good fear” and a “bad fear”.
The “good fear” is a mechanism that goes into place when something harmful is about to happen to us to increase our ability to survive the event. In this case certain areas in our brains such as the amygdala and the hypothalamus are activated to control the first physical response to fear. Chemicals such as adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol are released into the blood stream causing certain physical reactions such as:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Tightening of muscles
- Sharpened or redirected senses
- Dilation of the pupils (to let in more light)
- Increased sweating
All of these reactions take place to help us focus and do what we must to survive.
Now the “bad fear” is a consequence of our interpretation of who we are in society and how society sees us. And it is often not real.
I’ve experienced fear and its first cousin anxiety in small and large doses throughout my life.
First the big doses:
When leaving a bad eleven year relationship where I was emotionally and psychologically dominated, I wondered if I would survive. I was then told by my partner I would never be anything without him. I fearfully wondered if that was true.
When I lost a job and my financial security because I was involved with a man who talked me into doing something that became a professional conflict of interest, I went on downwards spiral blaming myself for what I had done to my own life. The blame was so great, it created an overwhelming state of anxiety.
When I knew Chris was dying, I experienced tremendous fear of what the last moment would be like and all the moments after.
These are just some of the huge events that happened in my life that brought tremendous anxiety into my mind and system. But in each circumstance I went through the following steps:
- Slowed my breath down
- Carefully analyzed the situation
- Accessed my courage to accept the situation at hand
- Reminded myself life is a learning experience
- Reminded myself I still had life ahead to experience and change what needed to change
- Thought of realistic steps – even if baby steps – to take to come out of my situation
What about fear of saying or doing what we think because we don’t know how we will be perceived?
1. I won’t approach him or her because they are going to know I like them. And what if they reject me? What happens to my self-esteem?
2. I won’t share my idea because what if others think I’m silly or stupid?
3. I won’t tell others what I really want because if I don’t get it, others may think of me as a looser.
This type of fear is crippling and it’s self-created. It often originates from a place within where we are not sure of who we are and of our own worth. When I have these fears this is what I do:
- Who cares? I ask myself. Don’t make everything in your life so serious. So if you tell a guy you are interested and he rejects you, does that mean you are not worthy? NO. Who knows why he rejected me. Maybe I reminded him of his mother J There is no movement forward without risk. If I want something I have to come out of your shell and ask for it.
- Because something doesn’t work out it doesn’t mean I’m less than. It just means it didn’t work out. I move on. I’ve learned not to make everything a judgment on who I am and what my worth is.
The more I get to know myself the more I learn to rely on my instincts and to respect my own values. As long as I am in harmony within “bad fear” is something I can process and eliminate fairly quickly.
I hope this makes sense to you. And if you are in fear, remember, all of us no matter who we are dealing with our own.
Much is being said about the impact our digital and virtual world is having on us, a generation having to adapt, and the younger people who have never known the world to be any different.
I’m one who loves the web. I read, research, communicate and shop online. Sometimes I find myself spending hours in an intimate relationship with the knowledge I find in the virtual world. Having said that, I also spend plenty of time sitting quietly in my yard. I have also learned to notice the trees and the people in my neighborhood and know each new day what the moon looked like the night before.
Finding balance in this fast and interconnected world is key to well-being. No matter who we are, human beings need to love, feel loved and to belong. No wealth of information will ever substitute these basic and most profound needs. We may look more modern than our cave ancestors but the spark of life is still the same. Take time to soak in all the gifts that life gives you on a daily basis. Much can be gotten from simplicity.
Below is a post by Geir Berthelsen that encourages slowing down and changing our corporate mind set which promotes quantity over quality. Enjoy!
Editor’s Note: Geir Berthelsen is a motivational speaker and founder of the think tank The World Institute of Slowness, which promotes “slow” awareness and activities around the globe.
(CNN) — The Industrial Revolution gave us many good things, among them the ability to create large, great cities and feeding enough people to populate them.
But in its aftermath our culture has developed a core focus based on the consumer and not the person as the individual.
As a consequence we have adopted a corporate mind-set which is long on quantity, short on quality, and even shorter on slowness…Continued
Simply stated, we need to unplug. If we keep running around trying to complete as many tasks as we can in a day we miss the point of life which is to enjoy the small things, the surprises and to be ready for when opportunity appears.
Most of us say we are looking for love. But are we really? Or are we looking to cast someone in a role we have developed in our imagination? Are we looking for the classy man who will defend and saves us? Or the beautiful woman who is nurturing and sexy? And once we’ve cast the part, we’ll live happily ever after without ever having a fight or a problem? That’s not being open to love that’s being ready for a casting session.
Loving someone means loving them for who they are; strengths and frailties. It is respecting them as people who like us struggle to make sense of life’s complexities. It is also living in the present.
The first step to really being able to fall in love and be in a good relationship starts with loving ourselves. No knight in shinning armor can rescue anyone and no super hot girl can compensate for a bruised ego. We rescue our own selves and we build our own egos.
As we learn who we are and embrace all parts of ourselves we learn to love others as well. Being there for ourselves and having our own backs allows us to be whole and able to truly share with someone else.
So take the time to get to know you. Feed your heart and soul with small pleasures that give you contentment, ask yourself what is really important to you, slow down and concentrate on life as its happening not as you imagine it should be, laugh as much as you can, and as you are busy living, life will happen to you.
Video Blog 3
There are three things I am working on now and they are:
1 – To slow down
2 – Keep my ego in check
3 – Be open for surprises
We live in a world where the busier we are the more successful we feel we are. If someone says they are working on ten things we are happy if we can say we’re working on twenty. And if we can’t, we actually feel we are slacking off. And so we run from place to place without being in the moment because wherever we are, we are already thinking what’s next. We also miss out on the little gifts life gives us on a daily basis; a word from a neighbor, a smile from a stranger, a beautiful day. Of course this is much more prevalent in urban areas.
Getting my ego out of the way is probably the hardest thing I need to do. After many years I’ve finally realized a lot of my anxiety comes from feeling I’m either being taken advantage off or not respected. My ego wants everyone to acknowledge my worth and treat me a certain way and when that doesn’t happen I get offended. The truth is my sense of self-worth should be exactly what the word says “self”. I should not worry if X or Y person does or doesn’t pay their respects as I would hope or think they should. I have no control over them but I do have control over not worrying about it. How I feel about myself is a private matter.
Last of my top three is to be open for surprises. We tend to pre-judge everything as a default mechanism for our own insecurities. It is easier to dismiss someone or something before we actually have had the opportunity to experience a person or a situation. Dismissing keeps us in our safe zone. But the safe zone is boring. The safe zone keeps us from experiencing new things in life and having a much more varied life. Surprises are what allow us to see things from a different perspective and to experience life in a different way.
I still have a long way to go to master my top three but at least I’m aware of them. And when their ugly heads start to come up I try to take a deep breath and remind myself there is another way of living which I’m sure is much more satisfying.
Slow down and enjoy life.
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~ Lao Tzu
Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.
Consider the above quote from Lao Tzu, (perhaps mythical) father of Taoism: how can it be true?
Is it possible to never hurry, but to get everything done?
It seems contradictory to our modern world, where everything is a rush, where we try to cram as much into every minute of the day as possible, where if we are not busy, we feel unproductive and lazy.
In fact, often we compete by trying to show how busy we are. I have a thousand projects to do! Oh yeah? I have 10,000! The winner is the person who has the most insane schedule, who rushes from one thing to the next with the energy of a hummingbird, because obviously that means he’s the most successful and important.
Maybe not. Maybe we’re playing the wrong game — we’ve been conditioned to believe that busier is better, but actually the speed of doing is not as important as what we focus on doing.
Maybe we’re going at the wrong speed. Maybe if we are constantly rushing, we will miss out on life itself. Let’s let go of the obsession with speed, and instead slow down, stop rushing, and enjoy life.
And still get everything done.
Let’s look at how.
A Change of Mindset
The most important step is a realization that life is better when you move at a slower, more relaxed pace, instead of hurrying and rushing and trying to cram too much into every day. Instead, get the most out of every moment.
Is a book better if you speed read it, or if you take your time and get lost in it?
Is a song better if you skim through it, or if you take the time to really listen?
Is food better if you cram it down your throat, or if you savor every bite and really appreciate the flavor?
Is your work better if you’re trying to do 10 things at once, or if you really pour yourself into one important task?
Is your time spent with a friend or loved one better if you have a rushed meeting interrupted by your emails and text messages, or if you can relax and really focus on the person?
Life as a whole is better if you go slowly, and take the time to savor it, appreciate every moment. That’s the simplest reason to slow down.
And so, you’ll need to change your mindset (if you’ve been stuck in a rushed mindset until now). To do this, make the simple admission that life is better when savored, that work is better with focus. Then make the commitment to give that a try, to take some of the steps below.
But I Can’t Change!
There will be some among you who will admit that it would be nice to slow down, but you just can’t do it … your job won’t allow it, or you’ll lose income if you don’t do as many projects, or living in the city makes it too difficult to go slowly. It’s a nice ideal if you’re living on a tropical island, or out in the country, or if you have a job that allows control of your schedule … but it’s not realistic for your life.
I say bullshit.
Take responsibility for your life. If your job forces you to rush, take control of it. Make changes in what you do, in how you work. Work with your boss to make changes if necessary. And if really necessary, you can eventually change jobs. You are responsible for your life.
If you live in a city where everyone rushes, realize that you don’t have to be like everyone else. You can be different. You can walk instead of driving in rush hour traffic. You can have fewer meetings. You can work on fewer but more important things. You can be on your iPhone or Blackberry less, and be disconnected sometimes. Your environment doesn’t control your life — you do.
I’m not going to tell you how to take responsibility for your life, but once you make the decision, the how will become apparent over time.
Tips for a Slower-Paced Life
I can’t give you a step-by-step guide to moving slower, but here are some things to consider and perhaps adopt, if they work for your life. Some things might require you to change some major things, but they can be done over time.
- Do less. Cut back on your projects, on your task list, on how much you try to do each day. Focus not on quantity but quality. Pick 2-3 important things — or even just one important thing — and work on those first. Save smaller, routine tasks for later in the day, but give yourself time to focus.
- Have fewer meetings. Meetings are usually a big waste of time. And they eat into your day, forcing you to squeeze the things you really need to do into small windows, and making you rush. Try to have blocks of time with no interruptions, so you don’t have to rush from one meeting to another.
- Practice disconnecting. Have times when you turn off your devices and your email notifications and whatnot. Time with no phone calls, when you’re just creating, or when you’re just spending time with someone, or just reading a book, or just taking a walk, or just eating mindfully. You can even disconnect for (gasp!) an entire day, and you won’t be hurt. I promise.
- Give yourself time to get ready and get there. If you’re constantly rushing to appointments or other places you have to be, it’s because you don’t allot enough time in your schedule for preparing and for traveling. Pad your schedule to allow time for this stuff. If you think it only takes you 10 minutes to get ready for work or a date, perhaps give yourself 30-45 minutes so you don’t have to shave in a rush or put on makeup in the car. If you think you can get there in 10 minutes, perhaps give yourself 2-3 times that amount so you can go at a leisurely pace and maybe even get there early.
- Practice being comfortable with sitting, doing nothing. One thing I’ve noticed is that when people have to wait, they become impatient or uncomfortable. They want their mobile device or at least a magazine, because standing and waiting is either a waste of time or something they’re not used to doing without feeling self-conscious. Instead, try just sitting there, looking around, soaking in your surroundings. Try standing in line and just watching and listening to people around you. It takes practice, but after awhile, you’ll do it with a smile.
- Realize that if it doesn’t get done, that’s OK. There’s always tomorrow. And yes, I know that’s a frustrating attitude for some of you who don’t like laziness or procrastination or living without firm deadlines, but it’s also reality. The world likely won’t end if you don’t get that task done today. Your boss might get mad, but the company won’t collapse and the life will inevitably go on. And the things that need to get done will.
- Start to eliminate the unnecessary. When you do the important things with focus, without rush, there will be things that get pushed back, that don’t get done. And you need to ask yourself: how necessary are these things? What would happen if I stopped doing them? How can I eliminate them, delegate them, automate them?
- Practice mindfulness. Simply learn to live in the present, rather than thinking so much about the future or the past. When you eat, fully appreciate your food. When you’re with someone, be with them fully. When you’re walking, appreciate your surroundings, no matter where you are.
- Slowly eliminate commitments. We’re overcommitted, which is why we’re rushing around so much. I don’t just mean with work — projects and meetings and the like. Parents have tons of things to do with and for their kids, and we overcommit our kids as well. Many of us have busy social lives, or civic commitments, or are coaching or playing on sports teams. We have classes and groups and hobbies. But in trying to cram so much into our lives, we’re actually deteriorating the quality of those lives. Slowly eliminate commitments — pick 4-5 essential ones, and realize that the rest, while nice or important, just don’t fit right now. Politely inform people, over time, that you don’t have time to stick to those commitments.
Try these things out. Life is better when unrushed. And given the fleeting nature of this life, why waste even a moment by rushing through it?
Remember the quote above: if nature can get everything done without rushing, so can you.
I did something yesterday that I haven’t done in a long time; nothing. I didn’t write, or work, or clean or organize. I watched movies, played with my dogs, cooked a nice meal and saw friends at night. But at the end of the day I had to wrestle with the idea I had wasted a day. My mind and my heart had an argument. My heart kept saying: “What is this thing about wasting a day? Did you have fun? Did you relax? Isn’t that what it’s all supposed to be about? My mind kept saying: “What will you have to show for today, tomorrow?” “All that you had to do is still there waiting for you”.
We live in a world that makes us feel that unless we are producing we are wasting our time. And simply relaxing and enjoying ourselves falls in the category of wasting time. But how often are we burned out? How often do we get physically and emotionally tired because we just keep going?
We all know what it feels like to be physically tired but emotionally tired can be a little bit trickier. We might attribute our feelings to depression or frustration without ever realizing that sometimes we just need to take a break.
Creativity needs room to grow and expand and a busy mind is often cluttered. Always going from task to task gives us the impression of being productive but in truth we are compromising quality.
Time and a relaxed mind allows us to notice and appreciate things that otherwise might go unnoticed. Usually they are things that could feed our hearts on a daily basis and actually affect our quality of life; a smile, a conversation, a smell, an animal, the sun.
Change makes us uncomfortable but that is when the mind, having decided on the right path, tells the heart to quiet down that it is all okay.
Giving ourselves the space to reflect lets us know how we truly are feeling and what is important for us.
So that is what I’m doing these days. I’m slowing down and teaching myself to relax. It’s a tough undertaking but one with great rewards.