How Sublime the Unhurried Life

Tell me if this sounds familiar: “In these days of ‘time-saving conveniences’ that actually do little to provide us with more free time, we often find ourselves struggling to fit even more into our day …” which usually results in becoming so hurried, many of us approach feeling frenzied more times than we’d like to admit.

Does that resonate with you? Do you get wiggly when you discover some ‘unscheduled time’ in your day – do you feel guilty about just sitting and enjoying your surroundings, instead of always striving to ‘go’ and ‘do’? Do you think of resting as ‘wasted time’?

Time could well be our most valuable personal treasure. What is the quality of the Time you invest in those you care about? Do they get the ‘left-overs’ from your very busy day? Or do you consciously set time aside to relax and enjoy your loved ones, and let them enjoy you? Do you live life at such a pace that you find yourself driving too fast, eating too fast, hurrying from one thing to the next? Is it all becoming too much of a blur?

What About Now? …

Would now be a good time to adopt more of an unhurried lifestyle? Imagine how different your life would be. Living an unhurried life brings a peaceful change to everything you do, every experience you have – imagine, for example, moving along in congested traffic and not developing a knot in your stomach or gritting your teeth, but instead taking advantage of the opportunity to look around and appreciate the view of your surroundings … surroundings that ordinarily you would pass by without a moment’s focus. Or picture yourself not constantly checking your watch to determine whether you’re ‘on time’ or ‘running late’ … and instead, staying present in the moment of where you are and what you’re doing. We often miss the pleasure of what we’re currently doing because, subconsciously, we’ve already moved on to anticipating the next thing on our list. Is that something you can relate to?

Mechanical clocks were invented by Benedictine monks in order to remind them to pray and be reflective. Some years later, a German prince came upon these clocks and decided they would be an efficient tool for keeping his society regulated, so he had one placed in the centre of town – and society has been ruled by clocks and time passage ever since. The net result of this has led to an ever increasing life of Hurry, Hurry and more Hurry.

Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry from Your Life …

Imagine what your day would feel like if you were to reduce or eliminate Hurry from your life. Here are but a few benefits:

  • You’ll listen better and hear more
  • You’ll have higher productivity with greater focus
  • You’ll become a calmer person
  • You’ll become kinder, more gentle and more forgiving
  • You’ll experience greater patience and a deeper sense of inner peace
  • You’ll remain more present in every moment

Other sublime benefits of an unhurried life include a more relaxed, lower stressed state of being, more time to develop a natural curiosity of your life and surroundings, and often a greatly improved level of health for a longer life ­–  in other words, a higher quality of life in every aspect.

While it may not be possible to eliminate every stressor from your life, most of us would significantly benefit from at least reducing the Hurry that seems to relentlessly chase us. That old saying, “stop and smell the roses” may have an indistinct origin, but its meaning is crystal clear – time isn’t found, it’s made … and if you don’t make time to enjoy this moment in time, it will be forever lost in a sea of successive moments until that day when the approaching moments cease – and then, it will be too late.

… so while you consider this, remember to enjoy the good stuff in Life.

The Importance of One Life

Have you ever considered what would be changed in this world if you had never been born? Okay, perhaps in the larger world, it might not have made a huge impact … but let’s just consider the impact your presence on this earth has made, is making, and may yet make on your immediate world – that of your family, friends, colleagues and community … or, if you are blessed enough to impact a wider spectrum than that, to the province/state or nation in which you live.

I had occasion to consider this just recently, when a lifelong friend passed away. To people who didn’t know him well, it may have seemed he lived a small life … he never really travelled, never held down a job of any significance, wasn’t well-educated, and didn’t have a large social network – but he certainly could liven up a party. Yet as with many of us, his life was not exactly the stuff legends are made of.

Still, when he passed away, those of us who knew him realized that despite all of the things he didn’t accomplish over the course of his life, he still managed to weave a uniquely colourful thread into the tapestry of our own life. He was a rare character, to be sure … frequently outspoken, occasionally irreverent, often entertaining, and always fiercely loyal. He had a tender heart, a compassionate spirit, and a genuine concern for his elderly neighbours – often being the only visitor they had to look forward to.

His family contacted me and told me he was gravely ill, and asked that I contact him. When I phoned him, we spoke of ‘the old days’ when we were both much younger and our life still lay ahead of us in what then seemed like an endless landscape. We recalled lots of memories of mischief and misbehaviour, and laughed quite a lot. As we ended our conversation, I told him I’d call again in a few days, and we both looked forward to it.

Sadly, he passed away mere days after that phone call, so we never did connect again … and I was left with a mixture of deep sadness and profound gratitude. It had been a number of years and a few thousand miles since we’d last spoken, so I was very thankful that I had made the effort to contact him when I did – yet so very sorry that his life had to be over so soon. And that’s what made me start thinking about the many ways this curiously ordinary person had impacted those around him. From there, I began to think about the ways my own life was impacting those people I am connected to, wondering if the legacy or remembrance I’m building is consistent with who I am and what my values reflect. This opens the door for some very deep thought.

If you haven’t taken the time to consider your own life and how you are perceived by those around you, perhaps this is a good reminder to do so while you still have control of the brush and palette. Life, as they say, is short – sometimes desperately so – and as far as we know, only provides for a one-way ticket. If you have suppressed anger, lingering grudges, resentments, a guilty conscience, or any other negative disposition, I urge you to resolve them while you can. If you haven’t adequately expressed your feelings of affection and appreciation for the people in your life (because you assume they simply ‘know’), perhaps this will persuade you to live your life out loud, and let your people know what’s in your heart.

If you can do so, you will surely begin to experience The Importance of One Life.

Desperately Seeking Solitude

There are those for whom spending time alone and in solitude represents one of the most dreaded, threatening states of being – people who would even rather deliberately dial a wrong telephone number than spend one more moment in complete silence.

Fortunately for me, I am not such a person. Over the years, I have grown very comfortable with my own company … because, after all, who understands me better than myself? Still, there is hardly a day goes by wherein I don’t at some point challenge my unqualified status quo, my personal paradigm, my own thought processes. Not to unseat my beliefs or overthrow my frame of reference, but rather just to verify that I’m operating with the most current version of ‘Me 2.0’ …

The Gifts We Are Given …

Sadly, some people would do almost anything to avoid the solitude it takes to become introspective. They watch television, or play a video game; they search almost desperately for something to amuse or entertain … or, more accurately, distract … themselves, so that they never have to think those ‘alone’ thoughts.

The problem with this is if we are never alone with ourselves, how can we ever develop a relationship with who we are? And if we never create that knowledge of ourselves, how can we ever develop the confidence we need to personally evolve or to embrace change? Inside each of us is a vast potential to achieve far more than we ever believed possible – more strength, more determination, more ability … the capacity for so much personal power – that we can become afraid and overwhelmed at the thought of being responsible for it. Because once we do acknowledge its existence, how can we then cease to be accountable for the way we manage it?

Half Measures Avail Us Nothing …

So instead, people who feel this way seek out those distractions to ensure they never have to face the discomfort of soul-searching or challenging themselves – they never place themselves in a position to reject half-measures. Instead, they’re happy to settle into the safety of their risk-free routine, embracing the mediocrity that advances them nothing and delivers them only a fraction of the life they could have – if only they would dare to quiet their mind and look inside themselves … to be introduced to the budding possibilities of their own magnificence.

Where are you on that spectrum of self-awareness? Are you frightened by the solitude that reveals all mysteries? There is so much to learn in solitude – it can bless us enormously. Its light can illuminate everything both around us and inside us. Within it we can become aware of our strengths and our weaknesses, our virtues and our shortcomings, our failures and our triumphs … we can through solitude define the person we want to become, and then sculpt ourselves into that vision.

Paulo Coelho teaches that just as Love is the Divine condition, so Solitude is the Human condition. And for those who understand the miracle of life, those two states coexist quite peacefully.

… and as you consider this, remember to stay focused on the good stuff in Life!

Deceived by Moments of Glory

In the cycle of life, there are no absolute winners or absolute losers. Life has its seasons, whether we’re referring to human life, animal life, plant life or aquatic life … there are phases of the life cycle that we all must experience, almost without exception seasons of feast and seasons of famine.

We’ve all had difficult moments in our life – and will no doubt experience a few more throughout our days … but those moments will pass, as all moments do. You may endure them and come through relatively unscathed – or you may endure them and pay a heavy cost … but either way, those moments will pass, and at some point you will find yourself speaking of them in past tense.

Your contribution …

But before you reach that point, how will you manage yourself during that challenging period? I’m not referring to your ability to resolve the problem – I’m talking about how will you conduct yourself while you deal with it – regardless of whether you gain or lose, in the end? Will you hold fast to your integrity and be accountable for whatever you did to contribute to the situation? Or will you see yourself as a victim and be left with resentments? Will you seek to identify that pivotal moment when you might have made a different choice – one which would have steered you away from that situation in the first place … so that you might learn from your experience?

Mistakes are also part of the life cycle … who among us hasn’t exhibited poor judgement now and again? It could be in our job or business, or who we trust as friends – but as humans, we are infinitely fallible and the potential for erring is always present. That’s typically how we learn and grow, and how our character evolves.

But you needn’t sacrifice your integrity …

Most of us have also had moments of glory in our life – and hopefully will experience a few more during our days. When you are in your moment of glory, are you gracious and truly appreciative of the experience and how you got there? Your personal integrity is no less important in the good times than in the bad. Do you recognize the path that lead you to that moment, and acknowledge those along your path who made this outcome possible? Would you share in the spotlight of your success, or would you steal the moment to bask in your glory?  

How you receive praise and attention speaks volumes about your inner strength of character. John Donne, the English poet and one of the world’s greatest writers of English prose, told us that ‘no man is an island’ … and within his message, he leads us to understand that humans are interdependent and social beings – and from that, we can draw that it is indeed rare for someone to achieve any measure of greatness without the contribution(s) of another person somewhere along the way. We should be able to conclude, therefore, that anyone’s moment of glory very likely belongs to many others besides themselves.

In Summary …

So the message from today’s article is that even though things may look hard today, the fact remains that this, too, shall pass … and when it does, I hope you can be proud of the way you conducted yourself throughout the turmoil – that you maintained your dignity and your integrity, and can look back on it with satisfaction. And, on the opposite spectrum, when your life is going better than you could ever have hoped, and you are successful beyond all expectations, I hope you remember that you are the product of many investments made in you over your lifetime – and give credit where credit is due, so that you are not deceived by your moments of glory.

and in the meantime, remember to stay focused on the good stuff in life!

What’s So Bad About A Little Anxiety, Anyway?

In the writings of Paulo Coelho’s Manuscript Found in Accra, we are told by an ancient sage, known only as The Copt, that there’s nothing wrong with anxiety – that it is part of the human condition to want to receive as quickly as possible that thing which we are waiting for, or to quickly drive away whatever it is that’s causing us to be fearful.

He teaches us that this condition is with us from early childhood until we reach the stage where we’ve become indifferent to life – that as long as we are intensely connected to the present moment, we will always be waiting for something or someone. We’re also told that anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind, and that since we will never learn to master it, we must instead learn to live with it – “just as we’ve learned to live with storms” – lest our lives become a nightmare.

It Can Be A Choice …

As I reflect on these words, I find myself deciding that The Copt is indeed a very wise man – I mean, how can you argue with such logic? In my experience, I’ve always tried to channel any anxiety that has me temporarily cornered and use it to my advantage. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t … but when it works, I feel a surge of adrenalin and a heightening of my senses – and I’m able to power my way through situations that require me to be very much in control. And when it doesn’t work, well … at that point, I figure I have two choices – I can either book a hasty retreat, and regroup in a place that allows me to do some rational analysis (e.g. why did my courage fail?) … or I can stay in the moment and surrender to whatever is causing the anxiety in the first place.

Typically, I choose the former – not just because I don’t like surrender as an option, but more because I’m always curious about my own emotions and why some are dominant while others are not. It has less to do with the cause of the anxiety itself, and more to do with trying to understand my overall reaction to it.

Anxiety Is Sometimes Absolutely Appropriate …

There are times when anxiety is the most appropriate emotion for a given situation – like when the outcome of something important is uncertain, such as giving a speech or some other personal performance moment. For example, I’ve often heard professionals say that if you don’t feel ‘nervous’ or ‘anxious’ before you hit the stage, you need to go do something else, because you’ve lost your passion. That makes sense to me, because I have experienced it many times over.

Anxiety can force your mind to become hyper-focused, and this usually ensures that every conceivable detail needed to achieve excellence has been considered and delivered on. How can that be bad? Anxiety can force you to raise your game, to stretch beyond where your comfort zone is usually defined – so it can cause you to grow.

And Then, Sometimes It Isn’t …

But when anxiety turns to outright fear, and that fear turns to paralysis, and that paralysis turns into a deeper psychological issue – like despair, obsession, or clinical depression – that’s when all the potential good from anxiety can become very destructive. And if that happens to you, or to anyone you care about, you must seek the help of a professional to guide you (or your loved one) back into balance – and the sooner, the better.

Although anxiety is a part of life, we must never allow it to control us. Nothing good can come from that, and the cost of learning this lesson can take your life. Anxiety will never disappear from the human condition, but being aware of how to use it to your advantage will at least reduce its power over us.

… and in the meantime, stay focused on the good stuff in life!

When People Let You Down

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed,” said the poet, Alexander Pope.

In suggesting that I should lower my expectations of people, the poet is looking at life through a fairly conflicted lens. I mean, even deliberately having no expectations is, in itself, an expectation … isn’t it? That is, if you avoid expectations because you’re sure to be let down, isn’t that an expectation?

I believe expectations do play a significant role in whether we allow ourselves to feel ‘let down’ when something doesn’t happen according to what we were led to believe. Expectations are fundamental to the modern world. There are huge industries built around creating expectations – aka: marketing. Their entire raison d’être is to create expectations … and we all know it. So when we buy something that doesn’t deliver as promised, we feel a mixture of disappointment and annoyance (depending on the cost), and likely seek restitution. There are usually procedures in place to provide for that.

But what about the expectations we embrace when we’re dealing with people – friends, family, associates, et al? How do we handle being let down by them? It’s often a very different kind of disappointment, because we have allowed for a very different depth of certainty and/or trust of their spoken word. What choices do we have when we experience being let down by them?

There are numerous ways to specifically analyze our disappointment to see if it has merit. Here are some filters that may help us decide how ‘let down’ we should feel:

Is it possible that we knew what we expected, but nobody else either knew or could reasonably have known?

Sometimes we make huge assumptions about what people should know about our expectations. But did we actually clearly articulate what we needed to have happen? Or were we counting on their familiarity with us to just figure it out? If we didn’t make our expectations clear, is it reasonable to hold others accountable for failing to deliver?

Did we have an expectation that combined conflicting elements?

Sometimes it happens that the composition of an expectation brings opposing energies into the mix, and we don’t allow for this conflict in our overall assessment of what should happen. That would suggest our understanding of this expectation was incomplete, and it was already never likely it would be met at the outset. To avoid this, we need to consider more clearly what it will take to bring an expectation to fruition, so we can anticipate obstacles and mitigate them.

Is it possible that, from the beginning, we simply expected too much from someone?

I’m blessed to have a wonderful community of friends from many different backgrounds, skill sets, education levels, and cultures … and each one brings their special energies and attributes into my life. But can I anticipate the same abilities and insights from all of them? No, certainly not … and it’s up to me to be aware of what is reasonable to expect when we interact. If I’m paying attention and being present in the moment, I should be able to immediately anticipate potential shortcomings.

But what about if it’s reasonable, and they still let me down?

That will surely happen, occasionally. And when it does, we need to identify it to them and be clear about what we expected versus what happened – and in so doing, reach an agreement on how future expectations will be met. Perhaps it’s as simple as saying “Okay, so this is my expectation for what will happen …” so that it’s clear. And if you’re let down again, you have a platform from which to advise that you are less likely to trust their promises anymore. It doesn’t make them a bad person … just a bit unreliable. So if you can live with that, then simply adjust your expectations to allow for it.

In other words, forgive them for not being reliable enough to come through with their promises, but devise a strong Plan B for those occasions when you choose to take a chance on their word again. As long as your relationship with them is something you still value, this approach should satisfy both sides – they get a chance to improve on their word, and you get to continue enjoying other qualities of their friendship.

… and in the meanwhile, remember to stay focused on the good stuff in life!


Is Yours A Generous Spirit?

Ola! This week, I’m writing from a small community on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico … and for the past week, I’ve been experiencing an incredibly generous spirit from the people who live here … even though they have very little to share – they’re still very quick to offer it. I wondered about how our own generosity of spirit would compare … so I thought I’d write about it.

In my experience, we are encouraged to give … to charities – especially those that can yield a tax receipt – and to sometimes sponsor a friend or family member trying to raise money for a particular cause … perhaps Girl Guides selling cookies or Boy Scouts selling apples, or such. Some of us have our favourite charities that we give regular contributions to, and again, we collect the taxable benefit at the end of the fiscal year.

But what about the generosity of spirit for those examples that might fall between those I’ve listed? How generous is our spirit in those cases, I wonder? Take, for example, people living on the street – do we just pass them by, or do we share some wealth? Are we kind when we address them, or do we look beyond them and try to ignore them? And then there’s the various mission shelters who feed these folks … is there something we can do to help their cause? Or food banks that feed those who are down, but not out … or the wonderful agencies that collect gently used items for those who are in need.

For the majority of us, I think it would be fair to say that we have ‘enough’ to get by on. Perhaps far from a life of luxury, but who among us is starving and destitute? This week, I was introduced to a whole different paradigm for poverty and need … and yet, the spirit that lives within these gentle people is remarkable. As I watched them so  carefully sweeping the sidewalk in front of their little home – the construction of which would probably startle most of us – I could see how connected they are to their surroundings … how much their home means to them, and the care that they invest in it. Brightly painted walls and spotless windows … floors so clean you almost felt bad walking on them. Perhaps their building is run-down, maybe badly needing repairs that they can never afford to complete – but they seem to be happy and contented with their lives. They don’t have a lot, but they do so much with so little, it really does gave me pause for thought.

I thought about my own community, and the need that exists there … I’m sure that there are needy people in your community, as well. Are we doing enough to help those who can’t seem to get ahead in life? Are we supporting our community, the way the Mexican people look out for each other? Couldn’t we all do just a little bit more, or show a little more kindness? We are so wealthy by comparison, but even so, where is our heart … our generosity of spirit?

… as you think about this, remember to look at the good stuff in life!

What Passes For Mercy

It’s been an emotional week, hasn’t it? So much violence … death and destruction. It can be so unsettling to hear of incident after sorrowful incident. As I thought about it, I decided on an appropriate topic for this week’s article – the subject of mercy.

I’m not talking about the kind of mercy that comes along with forgiveness – although that should certainly be on the other side of mercy. Rather, I’m talking about the mercy on this side of forgiveness … the mercy that stops someone from committing grievous injury unto another living entity, whatever the description or species.

What Does It Take? ..

What causes a person to decide to deliberately kill, maim or otherwise harm someone? It’s so far beyond my comprehension, I cannot fathom it – but then, I do catch-and-release on flies and spiders, so perhaps I’m not the best measure. Still, for some people – notably those of a more villainous nature – it seems to be as simple as ‘you have what I want,’ often followed by ‘bang, you’re dead – and now it’s mine!’

But whether it’s shooting someone, planting bombs that randomly blow apart innocent spectators, or even bullying another, I feel that our society has never been so nonchalant about taking (or ruining) a life – never have we been so callous and bold. Youth gangs have no sense of decency or propriety – as is demonstrated these days by swarmings and targeted physical or social media tormenting. Safety in numbers, I guess, even for the bad guys.

The Formative Years …

So what are we to do? Turning a blind eye and waiting for someone else to fix it is not an option – that’s a lot of what we’ve been doing up until lately … hasn’t worked so good. We’re trying to ‘get the message out’ that bullying is not okay. But that doesn’t seem to be stopping it – or at least, not according to reports in the news. Where must it begin, then?

Some folks think that parenting needs to get tougher – that there needs to be consequences for bad behaviour, and that it needs to be instilled during the formative years. Looking back on my own formative years, I found consequences to be a very effective disincentive for misbehaving. But it was even more than that … it was about respect. Not just for our parents, but for people in general – and certainly, for our elders.

The Merciful Heart …

So … how can we put the conscience of society back on track? How can we become more merciful in our judgements, our behaviour, and our tolerance of the many diversities of this world? How can we get back a sense of conscious caring about each other’s welfare; about perspectives other than our own, that allow us to be willing to accept there may be more than ‘one right’ way or option? And, yes … to ultimately forgive when we fall short of expectations, by showing a merciful heart to both ourselves and others.

And of greatest importance, how do we stop being our own worst predator, and instead learn to live together peacefully on this planet? Mercy is a hugely pivotal word – if there was enough mercy in the world, there would be no hunger, no war or hostilities, no dominance of one over another. There would be no bullying someone to death, no bombings, no shootings, no rapes, no robberies or beatings. We would all try harder to do the right things, for the right reasons, at the right times. Life would be utopian … which, as I understand it, is how it was intended.

What Passes For Mercy …

How do we get there? Okay, maybe not to Utopia … but where do we find the key to unlock the gentler fabric of society? I don’t have an immediate answer, but I’m sure it has to be an inside job. No government can legislate good intentions … we have to become the example we want the world to follow – and it has to start with each one of us. Become kinder, gentler, more forgiving, more patient, more tolerant, more open to other opinions, more respectful of all life on the planet – and of the planet, itself.

If we can do this, one by one we can make a difference in the world around us … and by doing that, we can actually redefine what passes for mercy …

and in the meantime, stay focused on the good stuff in life!

When You’ve Had Just About All You Can TAKE … Try Giving

This week’s article is about considering the balance between ‘Give’ and ‘Take’ … a concept that some of us tend to overlook, sometimes. Not deliberately, of course. No – but it’s easy to get SO caught up in our everyday concerns and personal issues that we just don’t take the time to look at ‘life’s balance sheet’ that monitors such things.

Everyone is looking to get their needs met. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s one of those instinctual necessities of life that doesn’t need defending. Sure, we each have to provide for the very basics of our survival: shelter, security, food, and clothing. What comes after that, though? Maslow tells us that those needs (Physiological, Safety) rank among the lowest of motivators on the spectrum.

So, what else are we striving for? …

Well, the next five needs in his pyramid are the ones that pose the larger challenge to achieving emotional equilibrium: Love & Belongingness; Esteem; Cognitive; Aesthetic; Self-Actualization – in that order, lowest to highest.

So … what’s my point? Simply this – an easy way for you to nurture those top five needs can be found in just one word: altruism. That’s right – because what about those among us who can’t quite manage to get even those first two needs covered? Is there something you can do to be of service to those who struggle? Can you invest any effort to help them? What can you do to put a few transactions on the Give side of your ledger? Can you offer a few moments of your time; a little bit of money; maybe donate some used clothing? In some cases, even just a friendly smile and a simple acknowledgement of their existence – just a little bit of respect – could make all the difference in someone’s life.

Random Acts of Kindness …

In most communities, there is an unfortunate population of marginalized citizens – the ‘have-nots,’ you might call them – who, for a variety of reasons, just aren’t able to adequately cover their most basic human needs. They rely on the social safety net to provide for them. And yes, of course there are usually some who lean on that safety net who ought not to … there will always be a segment of society that will Take advantage of the kindness and generosity of others. Don’t worry … karma will have its way with them. But I’m talking about the folks in our communities who would be completely desperate without that safety net and the kindness of others. These are the people whose lives we can bring relief to … even if only through the small contributions we can make – old fashioned caring and thoughtfulness – like sending a card to someone, visiting with a shut-in or the elderly, or even just holding the door open for someone. Random acts of kindness and courtesy … little Gives that cost only a moment of our time, but that could make all the difference to the recipient.

Grace Under Fire …

We’re all busy, I’m sure … with things to do, and places to go. But let us also not forget about the importance of our spirit of humanity; how keeping a charitable heart lifts up not just others, but our own lives as well. You can decide right now to always have time to show compassion and respect for others – and especially for those who struggle.

… and in the meantime, remember to stay focused on the good stuff in life!  


How Do YOU Deal With Pressure?

This week, I felt pulled in many directions – lots of deadlines (all of them urgent, of course), many distractions, and quite a few people asking for favours. Typically, I’m pretty good at delivering on all my commitments and still helping out wherever I’m needed; but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day.

That got me to thinking – putting in a week like this, or upon more careful reflection, quite a few consecutive weeks like this … it started me wondering about how people deal with pressures in their lives. So I decided this might make a good topic for this week’s article …

Where do these pressures come from?

When it comes to trying to determine the origin of pressures, it hardly takes a moment to start rhyming off the many sources: work load, home repairs, school assignments, traffic jams, unpaid bills, health concerns, family problems, disagreements with friends, loneliness, demanding clients, rocky finances, unreasonable deadlines, impossible expectations, under-performance, fatigue – oh my gosh, I’m getting stressed just listing them!

So what resources do we have at our disposal to keep all these pressures under control? Well, the good news is … we have lots. And to be fair, they’ll be different choices for different pressures. But let’s be honest – so often, it isn’t the ‘not having choices’ part that brings our pressures to bear, is it?

We just don’t want to admit we need help …

In my experience, when pressures start to pile up and it gets harder and harder to cope, we have but two choices – either deal with them one at a time, until everything is handled; or … what too many folks do … they pretend everything’s fine – they just ignore the causes of these pressures, and busy themselves with distractions.

The thing about dealing with pressures, whether they are administrative, interpersonal, medical or physical in nature, is that you can always ask for help – either from professionals, from volunteers, from family, or from friends. Reaching out and asking for assistance will bring almost immediate relief, on most levels. Options can be discussed, arrangements can be made, and concessions might be granted … in short, solutions can be created so as to at least alleviate the pressure, if not completely remove it.

False economy …

By ignoring pressures, while it may feel better temporarily, your conscience is telling you that it’s futile to take this approach – pressures generally refuse to be ignored for very long. And unfortunately, the price for ignoring pressures is paid by a continual depletion of those relief options previously available to you, leaving you even more compromised than before. So … probably not your best response.

If you can’t pay a bill, let it be known that you’re struggling and try to arrange terms. If you can’t deliver on a promise or a commitment, as soon as you realize you’ll be late, announce it – maybe more resources can be made available, or extensions can be granted. If you feel ill, seek medical attention as early in the game as possible, to maximize your chances for a full recovery.

Don’t let pressures eat you alive …

Pressure is a very real concern, there’s no denying – but if you can just manage to identify and isolate your various pressures, and then strategically assess what it will take to alleviate them, you make it possible to enlist assistance in finding a resolution. From this, you can create relief, if not complete release.

And now that I’ve delivered on my final commitment for today, I can reward myself with a cup of tea. Give some thought to how you handle your pressures, and make sure that you don’t let them steal away your options, or eat you alive with worry.

… and in the meantime, stay focused on the good stuff in life!