“Less is more” expresses the notion that simplicity and clarity lead to a less stressed existence. Unfortunately our culture has moved further and further away from adopting this modality. We now go through our days as if we are in training to do as much as we can in one day. We are literally on call 24 hours a day. I doubt whether there is anywhere on earth that one can go and be free of some gadget that can trace your whereabouts.There might be, but we would have to be able to go there and absent ourselves from the anxiety of not being connected. Our brains are being rewired to “need” the stress that comes from being overwhelmed.Yes, that sounds crazy, but over the years we have adapted to seeking more and more adrenaline highs from lives filled with constant pressure.
This is emotionally similar to being on a substance that gives you a high but then makes you its slave. The chemistry of stress can initially give you a rush; but after a while, it begins to erode your body, mind and soul.
There are options that can make life easier, but they’re rarely taken seriously. What would it be like to meet someone who shares how relaxed they are. You would more than likely think they’ve been medicated. Most conversations are riddled with tales of exhaustion and lack of free time. As you listen you start to feel as if you’re on a runaway train and are helpless to pull the cord so you can jump off and save yourself.
I’ve written about this subject for several years, as have many others. There are reams of research papers on the subject and over three billion dollars a year is spent on either healing or preventing it. What I find interesting is that the media rarely mentions stress now even though it is at an all time high. I believe that has happened as a result of how society has accommodated itself to it. After all, you are supposed to be stressed. It identifies you as a mover and a shaker, even though the moving and the shaking may be a signal that your mind/body are on the verge of collapse.
The realization that symptoms you are experiencing i.e. headaches, backaches, gastrointestinal problems, and more could be the result of an overextended life is the first step to living a more balanced life. Try to understand that periods of rest no matter how small can help to refresh and invigorate your brain. Take sometime to remove yourself from your gadgets and to connect with family and friends in “real time”. Seek to delegate so that you don’t have to be the “center of the universe”. You only have one life to live, learn to live it well.
An essential part of optimism, and one that can be taught, is the ability to see yourself slip into negative thinking, and then turn it around, that is, twist it. This is easier said than done.
You’re probably walking around right now with those nagging voices in your head that I call “the committee”: the scolding echoes of the past that are always pointing out the things you do wrong. “There are dishes in the sink! Why are you sitting around doing nothing, you lazy slob? Do you really need to eat that cookie? You have no self-control. You’re going to be as fat as a house; in fact, you already are! Why don’t you just use your behind as a billboard?” The committee can do a lot to ruin your day.
Then on top of what’s in your head are all the day-to-day messages of media and marketing. The mass media is a constant sledgehammer, thwarting a normal person’s ability to feel optimistic about life. It’s as if our society preys on people’s insecurities, doubt and fears.You’re constantly assaulted with marketing gimmicks that make you feel bad about yourself: products that could make you thinner, younger, and more fit; help you earn more money; or find you a better mate.
Of course, the subtext of all that is that you, just as you are, are pretty hopeless. Unless you’re as rich as Oprah Winfrey, as beautiful as Kim Kardashian, or a fit as Serena Williams, you’re not living up to you “full potential.” How could you ever be expected to feel optimistic about life in the face of all of that? It often seems as if life is just a struggle to acquire things or improve yourself, in ways that seem completely out of your reach. And then, as if on cue, there’s the voice of the committee, telling you it’s all your fault.
Okay, take a deep breath. It’s time to twist things around. Try to find the absurdity in your emotions and have a laugh at your own expense. When you find yourself feeling, “Damn, I’m just never going to look like Jennifer Lawrence no matter how many times I go to the gym”, stop and think, “Who cares?, She may have great arms and an academy award, but nobody in the world has toes like mine. People would come far and wide to see my toes if they knew how great they were. If the media ever gets a hold of this, I wouldn’t be able to leave my house for days!”
Yes, we are accessing the ridiculous. But our thinking patterns are often ridiculous and they lead us to feeling upset and depressed. I leave you with my favorite metaphor “If you think the worst and get the worst, you suffer twice, if you think the best and get the worst, you only suffer once”.