We hear a lot about stress and its negative effects on health these days. There is one thing about stress we need to be clear about – stress is created in the mind. In other words, it is a mental construct and not required. Situations do not create stress. It is your beliefs about situations that creates stress.
For instance, Jim sees a yard full of leaves and starts pressuring himself to rake it. Meanwhile, his neighbor, Harry, observes the same situation in his yard and recognizing that he has other priorities, walks right past it without feeling guilt.
Even though Jim has many things requiring attention, he can’t release his obsession to clean up the yard mess. Harry, on the other hand, has no pressure because he knows he will get to it in his own time and right now he has other priorities. In effect, he chooses peace.
For Harry having peace of mind scores higher on his priority list than cleaning up the yard. There are reasons Jim pressures himself to take care of the yard even when he has no time or energy to deal with it. The reason for that is that he has a belief that to be a good neighbor (homeowner, person, husband, whatever) he must have an immaculate lawn. Thus, without knowing it, he plagues himself to get this chore done and he does get it done but there is no joy in the doing. It has become a heavy, burdensome task.
Hence, we create stress when we are living life for others (shoulds) and are busy doing for the wrong reasons. Behind every tedious job, you will find a belief system that makes it so. You should keep a clean house, a well-funded retirement account, a weekly connection with family, an expensive family vacation, nutritious meals, etcetera. Some go even further – wear a certain brand of clothing, buy an elaborate car, live in a house you can’t afford, join the right country club, look good at any expense, and so forth. All of these things can be wonderful expressions of sharing, fun, and love, if they are accomplished from a sense of joy; if they have meaning beyond appearances. When performed as a “should” (someone else’s rule), they become meaningless, burdensome, and stressful.
So, what are we to do? First check your to-do list and ask yourself if the items on the list are for you or for someone else? Does the completion of these tasks offer happiness? Are you doing them out of love? If there is some other reason behind their completion, challenge it. Should you have a college education, a house with a white picket fence, a 401K and a fancy vacation because it is the sign of achievement or is that what your heart desires. If it is not what you want, then ask yourself what is it you want?
It is the beliefs we have taken on or designed ourselves that create stress. When we live life out of love, we may not get all the tasks completed, but we will know when to take a break, take a breath, and just be grateful.
When we choose peace, all creative channels are open and active, and we will always find a way to get to where we want to go and do it with relish and a joyful spirit. Practice letting go of meaningless goals and put your own joy of being as a priority.
Many people are unwilling to put themselves on their list at all, much less at the top. “I’ll get to my needs when everything else is finished.” It’s no shock then, when the day is done, they’re still waiting their turn. If we dedicate an hour daily to stillness, peace, laughter and joy, our world would be a brighter, more hopeful place. You can do this by taking a leisurely walk, appreciate the sunshine, glorify in nature, sit quietly, fantasize a perfect life, read an inspiring book, smell the flowers, breathe deeply, write yourself a love note, meditate. The possibilities are endless. What beliefs do you hold that interfere with serenity?
Jean Walters is a transformational coach. She helps people work through issues, overcome anxiety, formulate new brain pathways, & live powerful, joyful lives. You can reach her at 314 991 8439 or her website: http://www.spiritualtransformation.com