You’d think the answer would be obvious, right?
I was incredulous when an ex-military friend told me that he found running a business more stressful than fighting in a war zone. Wow. He said, things are so much simpler when it’s a matter of life and death.
He wasn’t being flippant. He was totally serious.
Makes you ponder, doesn’t it? So many of us have a multitude of demands on us. In a very different kind of way than we would if we were in a war, we often feel like we’re spending our energy ‘surviving’ – putting food on the table, trying to protect children from a multitude of potential harms, feeling responsible for the welfare of employees, bringing in the second income to keep the roof over our heads, cramming two days’ worth of activities and commitments into one…
I know most of you can relate. Whether you’re in this state now or not, almost all of us have felt this kind of inner burden, grind and frantic pace at some point or other.
Here’s an idea for a solution: how about changing our expectations of ourselves?
I’m not being facetious. Do you simply expect way too much of yourself? Do you try to cram way too much into a single day? Do you burden yourself with a need to be perfect?
When we’re stressed we’re functioning way below par anyway – particularly if it’s chronic stress we’re talking about. We might love the feeling of running on adrenaline for a while, until our health deteriorates.
Wallace D. Wattles talks about completing the tasks for the day with a certain attitude; he talks about not trying to complete more than the tasks reasonably achievable during that day.
Seneca talks about the “shortness” of life – how we have plenty of time in this life if we’re present in each moment, giving our full attention to whatever is at hand.
As Thich Nhat Hanh entitled one of his books: “peace is every step” – at least, it can be if you so choose.
Don’t get caught up in the glamourisation of busy-ness. It’s a destructive perception wreaking havoc on our society. Give peace the importance it deserves. Many other cultures “get” it. As a society we’re rather immature in that regard.
I hear you retort: “But I need to get all that done in order to feed my family and survive!” No. You don’t.
Really think about it for a moment. Will the sky fall in if you don’t write that email today? If you don’t meet that deadline? If the kids have boiled eggs for dinner? If you don’t put in 12 hours at work? If you don’t check LinkedIn? If you don’t respond to so-and-so? If you don’t go on that holiday?
How can you simplify?
Do you dare?
Does peace lack the perceived glamour that busy-ness holds?
Often the worst kind of busy-ness is in our minds. It is our mind. It’s estimated that at least 70% of our thoughts are negative or redundant. Most of our thoughts aren’t considered or useful. They’re generally rehashes of the past or predictions about the future based on the past. We generally allow our mind to go haywire and prevent us from experiencing the precious present; and it’s only when we’re present that we can consciously create for ourselves.
Don’t underestimate the pressure we put ourselves under, and the pressures we buy into as products of our environment and society.
What can you let go of?
How can you prioritise peace over busy-ness?
Even as you execute the tasks of your day, can you stay present?
Every little effort you make in the direction of peace will pay off a thousandfold. It’s time to stop living life like it’s a war zone.