The Secret To Not Being Stressed Is Not What You Think It Is…
So, you’ve got this big list of things to do. And every day you have this list, and it seems to grow with yesterday’s leftovers.
So what’s the strategy to getting it all done without the stress that comes with long lists, lots of responsibility, and little time to rest?
Not what you think it is.
By a show of hands, how many of you think the easiest and smartest way to get rid of the stress is by tackling the list and getting it all done? How many of you experience the relief of check, check, check, and live to see little check marks all the way down the list by nighttime?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. I’d wager 90-95% of you raised your hand, and if you didn’t, it was because it was the most obvious answer and you knew I’d refute it so you didn’t want to be wrong. C’mon, admit it. :)
Another question: if I were to suggest that, with this big list of things waiting to be done, instead of starting with perhaps the hardest, or the easiest, or the longest task, or the shortest – what if I were to suggest you put the list down, or in your pocket, and sit and read a chapter of a good book with a cup of coffee outside on your deck? Or, alternatively, that you go for a walk in nature for half an hour and see all the beautiful flowers and birds you could find? Or, what if I suggested you curl up on the couch with hubby, perhaps, and watch a movie? And then get to the list. You’d probably look at me cock-eyed with your hands on your hips, roll your eyes, and then proceed to get to your checklist. Right?
I know that’s what I would have done, ten years ago. In fact, it is what I did, over and over and over again. I even - when asked by a well-meaning friend what I did for myself, for fun, to relax – said that getting the laundry done made me feel good. Why? 'Cuz it was something I could cross off my list so I could start tomorrow with a blank page. That was my goal. Not carry over today’s stuff until tomorrow. Get it all done. Check off those items.
I remember countless times that Sunday would come and I would have my big list of household tasks or errands to get to. I would go to my husband and say, “All right, let’s get this all done!” And he would say, “After the football game.” And I would look at him cross-eyed and ask, “How can you sit here and watch the game for THREE hours, when you know all of this needs to get done??!?” Talk about men being from Mars and us being from Venus…I just could not wrap my head around relaxing first, and then working. (And he was serious about doing it after – he wasn’t blowing the list off. He was simply trying to teach me that Calm Wisdom which he already knew – and I’ll get to that in a minute.)
Then, I got to the point where I would want to, say, go out shopping, and as I would get ready to leave the house, all the tasks waiting to be done would call out to me. The laundry waiting to be put in the dryer, the sink full of dishes in the kitchen, the floor under the table that wasn’t swept after breakfast…and what about that dusting I wanted to get to? I would hesitate, and then I would deliberate, and then…well, either I would go and it would take me 40 minutes to stop hearing them all calling out to me tugging me home, or I wouldn’t go and I would get the list done. And miss the fun of the mall, or whatever outing I had planned.
And, slowly, after banging my head against that particular wall over and over and over…eventually I learned my lesson. Eventually, and with nudging from my wise husband, and opportunities to stop banging my head given to me from G-d, and with slowly gained experience, I learned this great lesson in Calm Wisdom:
When one stops to take care of him/herself, when one stops to do
something to calm and rejuvenate his system, when one does something
FUN for himself – the list that is waiting gets done faster, with more
energy, with less effort, and with greater satisfaction.
And, I have to tell you, that is one heck of a lesson to learn.
The earlier you learn it, the earlier you Iive it, the faster you reach real happiness and fulfillment. Over time, your stress levels go down, and you feel rich. Why? Because you know a knowledge that keeps you from stressing out.
It keeps you happy, energized, relaxed, focused, and SAVES YOU TIME.
One of the biggest challenges I face penetrating the stressed community – which is, of course, my target market – is the excuse: I don’t have the time. Do you hear that? I am too stressed and pressed for time to learn to relax. Uh – hello?? Do you want to get out of this cycle?
Like my mentor Meredith Grey once said, Why do we beat our heads with a hammer? Because it feels so darn good when we stop.
Stop beating your head against the wall. Stop hitting yourself with that hammer. Make it stop.
Get calm first. It is amazing, and this is why it is a secret – because it seems counter-intuitive (when, really, when you think about it, it makes the most sense in the world…). But it is TRUE. I have seen this magic happen for me over and over and over since I have reformed: when you relax, you GROW time.
So grow some time for yourself. When you relax, you create time to get it all done with serenity. And, as a bonus, you also create more time to relax MORE.
Like me, right now, for instance. It is Friday. I worked this morning, then sat out in the sun with a cool glass of milk and a freshly baked muffin. And now I am sitting and writing this blog. Sabbath starts in 3 hours and we have not started cooking.
And you know what? This reformation feels amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!