“The components of anxiety, stress, fear, and anger do not exist independently of you in the world. They simply do not exist in the physical world, even though we talk about them as if they do.”
Times are interesting for sure.
Is there any more fuel for stress today than there was last year, last decade, or last century?
Who knows? We don’t compile that data. Not here anyway.
One thing for sure, the more stress that gets expressed, expanded and elevated, the more seems to show up.
For example, putting aside the incidences of terrorist attacks that seem to have become a part of living in our modern world, the amount of random acts of violence for the most innocuous reasons—a relationship breakup, being cut off in traffic, a layoff—have seemed to rise. Or, is there simply more tension in the general air that have those events just catch our attention more?
Either way, left unchecked, tense times appear to bring about more tense times…for each of us individually and the world as a whole.
I recently noticed that the political climate has had my “guard up” for the last several months. Even though I believe in my mind that I can separate the mood brought about by this climate from my work, my relationships, and my being and interacting in the world, I realized that I’m fooling myself. The general mood I find myself in in one area can’t help but put a pale or cloud over another area.
We’ve all heard that “Wherever you go, that’s where you are.” So, realizing that bracketing or separating out the moods in one area from others won’t just happen on its own, I’ve become more vigilant about stemming the tide of tension.
We are living in times of high-potential stress. It’s what we each do with that potential that makes a difference. The potential either gets expressed, or it gets transmuted by our individual efforts.
Given that muscles are only built from resistance, perhaps this is a perfect time to build muscles around stress…because the world’s resistance to being at peace is all around us.
We can either add to the escalation in our responses and reactions, or peacefulize events and environments through intentional workouts.
Simon Sinek says “We live in times of high stress. Messages that are simple, messages that are inspiring, messages that are life-affirming, are a welcome break from our real lives.”
We seek to do that each week here, in our Back Forty messages and efforts.
What messages can you send out today, whether initiated or in response, to turn the tide toward peace?
Here’s a few ideas to help you Peacefulize in a Stress Test.
First, it’s important to just notice the resident vibe in which you’re operating. I say “resident” because it kind of lives in us. It may be an unwelcomed visitor, but if it’s a negative vibration that snuck in and is living in your basement, it’s smelling up the whole house.
So, first, begin to notice what’s lurking in the unseen. Are you irritable? Are you punchy? Are you easily rattled or thrown into concern or argument? Notice how you respond to the natural flow of life each day and see if you can be an observer to yourself.
Is that person happy and content, from an observer’s point of view, or might they have something going on behind the scenes or under the hood?
Get good at noticing your resident mood…and what might be going on that has you in that mood.
Have some empathy for yourself, realizing that you’re not wrong for any reason you may be punchy or irritable, and understand that most people would be operating the same way you are.
You’re only human, and stuff happens that throws the majority of humanity into fear, concern and stress.
Realize that you have a choice, each and every moment, as to how you’ll be. Will you side with the majority, and be the average person handling stressful times in an average way, being just as argumentative and committed to being right as the next person…or will you be different?
Look, you’re not “right” for choosing to be different, for choosing to find a different way to operate than the majority, but just realize that you do have a choice.
If you do happen to be one of the minority who choose to take the road less travelled, find ways to bring peace instead of more dissension and tension into every event or environment in which you find yourself.
General tension in the air means that most people will be at a heightened level of blowing off steam. See, in every situation, how you might be someone who cools down the steam so that, as water, it can flow easily down the path of least resistance, which water tends to do.
Sure, “count to 10” if you need to resort to basics…but, beyond that, how might you serve yourself and others by bringing out the possibility or perfection of every situation vs. buying into the problem that everyone else will be focused on? Be inventive. Be creative. Be different.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
In The Back Forty, we say you have yet to do what you came here to do.
If you’re here to play a yet bigger game – no matter what you’ve accomplished thus far – it will take you being different than the rest of the crowd and bringing out ALL of you in a NEW way.
We created The Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Program for just this reason: to support you to go against the grain of how the majority would view challenges and potential stresses and actually have them serve you to be who you came to be and do what you came to do. Those “stress tests” are really your best friend, helping you get there, if you approach them powerfully.
Check out A Back Forty Re-NEW-ALL Program here, to ReNEW the ALL of YOU.
“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
The tendency is to do, and do, and do…and keep doing until done.
Our cultural work ethic values pressing forward and figuring it out, whatever it takes.
There’s a lot to be said for pressing forward, yet especially with an easy touch.
When the chips are down, we often go head down, nose to the grindstone and get so tight that we only breathe in.
We forget that tight means no openings for entry…for new ideas, innovative approaches and, God forbid, playfulness.
Literally, I can see myself having two completely contrary personalities at times. When in a relaxed state of playfulness and connection, I can attract play partners like the biggest magnet on the planet. Yet, when I’m tightly wound, trying to figure out through smarts or strategy the best ways to go, often the flow stops…as well as those wanting to be around me.
Winston Churchill, a man with the fate of the world on his shoulders, painted to open his mental creative faculties for battle.
Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, was an avid fisherman–with no bait because he wanted solitude and inspiration, not fish.
Researchers have discovered that people exhibiting relaxed playfulness appear to be better at coping with stress, can easily see things from new perspectives, and are more likely to report leading active lifestyles.
It’s in those moments where it really counts that our exhibiting such playfulness has its greatest impact. Yet, in those moments, a playful attitude just doesn’t make logical sense.
The gold is in the contrary action.
In our second half, we can become rigid in how we have forced things to happen in the past. As Monty Python says, “and now for something completely different”—becoming playful—can feel different, and yet far better for our long run of doing what we came here to do.
So, the next time the tight wad of forcing an outcome wraps you up, contrary action such as loosening your grip may save the color in your knuckles and even incite some chuckles.
Laughing and relaxing in the face of challenges and tribulations may be the smartest strategy to play.
Here’s a few pointers on how to dig on relaxspiration.
First, you have to get really good at noticing the tightness.
Start feeling your body when you’re doing what seems relaxing and easy and then compare it to times when you’re in the heat of forcing something to happen.
If you’re so tight most of the time that a piece of charcoal could turn to diamond in your presence, it will be hard to for you to see it yourself. Do a tightness survey with your friends. Find out how they’d rate you on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of diamond mining.
Notice the worldly weight of the moment, when everything seems to hinge on the answer, the path, the route to take absolutely needing to be on the table hours before.
When there’s no time to waste and every slight delay or challenge meets with irritability and a few choice expletives, just ignore the logic…and step away from the critical-importance machine.
It’s really not worth all that tension in your body. Your health and well-being are of much greater long-term importance.
Give it up! Don’t take yes for an answer. The answer at this moment is no: no to working harder, no to figuring it out, no to breaking necks and backs to force a result.
Don’t give up, but do give up the struggle. This isn’t the way to the peaceful, playful and purposeful person you choose to be. Accept that you have the right to take a contrary action for the health and well-being of everyone.
Just laugh all over yourself. Find something to do that breaks the rigid, clenched jaw. Getting into the practice of laughing in the face of your moments of all-importance could be the best habit to bring into a Back Forty of contribution. And a good laugh is always a contribution to everyone.
“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”
-William S. Burroughs
We re-did our first broadcast because the first version has poor sound quality since I was out of the office with low bandwidth. If you’re still intrigued, watch the original version below, you’ll be able to handle the sound quality![youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui3VtQuh7dk]