Posts Tagged ‘happiness’


I know that it really seems like that rude driver who just cut you off on the highway made you stressed. Just as it seems like your inconsiderate boss who gave you another assignment made you stressed. And then there’s the weather which is stressing you. How about your kids? They create more stress with all of their demands and after school activities. We haven’t even brought up your spouse and mother-in-law yet! You have no choice but to feel overwhelmed with stress and anger, right?

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that I am going to vote Wrong on this. And this truly is the good news. We do have a choice. We play a major role in the stress that we experience.

Yes, there are many stressors that find their way into our lives. It’s how we respond or react to them that makes all the difference. It’s what we tell ourselves about what is happening that will determine how we feel about those stressors.

When I was younger, I used to keep a running tally of all the things that I felt were going wrong in my life. I guess I didn’t want to forget any of them! Anyway, this tally made me very anxious, discouraged and Stressed. I would repeat them like a mantra, over and over, working myself up more and more. I don’t imagine I was much fun to be around and I most certainly was not fun to live inside of!

I began to observe people who appeared to be serene and happy. When I spoke with them, I noticed that they also had stressors in their lives, but they did not focus on them. If they did mention them, they always had a way of reassuring themselves. For example, if they had a boss who was always dumping work on them, they might say, “but, of course, I can only do one thing at a time. I’ll eventually get things done.” I would feel better just hearing them speak in this common sense way. They might not be thrilled about the cold, dreary, dark day outside, but they might say, “Days like this really help me notice and appreciate the beautiful days which will be here soon enough.” Somehow that lifted my spirit and brought a little sunshine into my heart.

Perhaps life is all about what we make of it. As far as I can tell, everybody has their fair share of unpleasant, anxiety-producing things that occur over time. It’s the way that we talk to ourselves about these inevitable events. Do we whine, cry, scream, moan when they happen or do we take them in stride, bringing kindness and compassion to ourselves. We are not unique. We all suffer. But tormenting ourselves by telling ourselves how unfair it is, how we will never get everything done, how life is awful is truly optional suffering.

Slowing Down to the Speed of Life

We have sped through our lives. We’ve tried to “fast forward” ourselves. As a child we couldn’t wait to be older than we were. When my grandson, Alex, turned 5, he told me, “All my life I’ve been waiting to be 5!”

We’ve wished away years of our lives by holding out for different conditions in order to be happy:
-“When I graduate and get a job, then I’ll be happy.”
-“When I find the perfect mate, then I’ll be happy.”
-“When I lose ___ pounds, then I’ll be happy.”
The assumption is that in the intervening time, we will have no choice except to be unhappy.

At some mysterious point, most of us begin to say, “Whoa! Wait a minute. I’m getting older. Maybe it’s not so great and wonderful to be turning 27” (or whatever age it might be). Just as we change our minds and decide we don’t really want to race ahead, we really begin to notice that every year seems to be speeding by at an ever increasing pace.

Everything seems to be a blur. There’s never enough time to get things done at home or at work.

And then at some even later point in life, we find ourselves saying another “Whoa! Maybe there really isn’t going to be time to get everything done in this lifetime!”

This can be a real turning point that invites us to become more discerning about what is truly important to us. Do we really need to keep up with all the Joneses in our lives or do we say, ” I have enough things.”

Perhaps quality time with those we love takes on new significance. We know how short life is because more and more family members and friends are dying way too early. We want to do things that are meaningful for us:

Perhaps we go out of our way to smile more.
Perhaps we really stop to smell the roses.
Perhaps we try to extend kindness to strangers.
Perhaps we find ways to volunteer our time or give our money to
those who have less than we.
Perhaps we just allow ourselves to totally soak in the joy of
being with our grandchildren.

Try this:

Slow yourself down by taking a few deep breaths. Invite any areas of tension in your body to relax and let go.
(Notice that everything slows down when you bring yourself into the present moment in this way.)
When you relax and slow down you can think more clearly.
Ask yourself, “At this point in my life, what do I would I like to be of utmost importance to me? What do I no longer need to be doing? How can I make this happen?

You might need to come back to these questions every so often to revise the answers.