Yesterday I had the amazing pleasure of spending 30 minutes with the brilliant Dr. Robert Holden. Dr. Holden is the best-selling author of several books includingHappiness Now!, Shift Happens! and the currentLoveability. We found ourselves on the topic of stress and Robert said that stress isn’t the enemy at all, but a gift. Don’t stop reading! We haven’t lost our minds. The point is this: begin to look at stress as a gentle wake up call to what needs to be changed in your life. Think of it as a friend who pops in to say “Excuse me. Sorry to bother you but this situation sucks. Do something about it!”
Looking back after our talk, I realized how many times stress had appeared as this friend. A few years ago I was in the midst of an incredibly challenging job that I didn’t love (understatement of the year) and every day was an exercise in desperately trying to keep my sanity. Stress was there. When I ignored it, it got louder and more intrusive. The days got harder. When I continued to ignore it, it showed up as an incredibly inconvenient, flashing neon anxiety attack! And that’s what happens. Stress shows up as a signal that tells us we need to stop and take a look at what needs to change in our lives. For me, I realized that the job was no longer serving me and I left. I felt an immediate peace. I felt quiet and in that quiet, the next step revealed itself. What is causing you stress right now? A job? A relationship? The bills rolling in? Think for a moment of three different ways you can change this situation to alleviate stress and send it on its way.
What if it’s something you can’t change? Perhaps you are stuck in a traffic jam or dealing with a button-pushing relative. When you are faced with something that you feel you cannot change, there is always one thing you CAN change—your MIND! When you are faced with an immovable situation, ask yourself two questions: “What is the miracle here?” and “What is my purpose in this?” Personal example number 2. I have a baby who never sleeps. Ever. No really, not EVER. I am a very patient person. In fact, if I were a super hero, super human patience would be my power. However, I am also a person who requires my solid 8 hours. Person that requires sleep + baby who does not = a good bit of middle-of-the-night swearing and deep breathing. Last night was one of those nights. This time, however, I remembered to take my own advice. As my child cried every 20 minutes to be picked up, I asked myself the two questions:
What is the miracle here? The miracles flowed. My child is HERE. He is safe and healthy and loves to be in my arms. I have been blessed with the ability to comfort him. He can’t stay awake forever. (Though if anyone could it would be him.)
What is my purpose here? My purpose is to honor the gift I have been given and act as the supreme care-giver, comforter, and calming influence for this poor little guy who is getting five teeth at once. My purpose is to love him, rub his back and let him know that I am here. Always.
When you take a second to find the miracle and to reflect on your purpose two things happen. The first is that you remember how immeasurably lucky you are. The second is that when you are focusing on answering the questions, you are taking the focus OFF of how crappy and anxious you initially felt. Miracles and purpose bring peace. Peace squashes stress. The absence of stress fosters joy. You get the idea. Learn to stay in peace no matter what life throws at you and you become a jedi-master of your mindset. The first time you practice this and feel the breakthrough, you will feel powerful beyond measure. Let me know when it happens! I will happily sit on my porch and have some champagne in your honor. =)