Finding Serenity in a Stressful World

Cherié  Carter-Scott Someone said that technology was supposed to make life easier, and in a perfect world, it actually can! The challenge is dealing with viruses, worms, spam, upgrades, forgotten passwords, products that are sold without de-bugging, and sketchy return policies. The challenge is not only technology, but having expectations that are repeatedly unfulfilled. I answered my phone yesterday, and the voice at the other end said, “You actually answered your own phone…I’m amazed that I’m not speaking to a machine!” Standing on long lines, waiting on “hold,” trying to get a sales person’s attention while they talk on the phone, trying to buy something on line that has an endless loop, and the list of irritations goes on and on.

The pace of the world has accelerated. There is good news and not-so-good news to each technological achievement. The good news is that we are now wireless…unless you can’t locate the signal. The good news is that we have cell phones, unless you are in a “bad cell” area, “Can you hear me now?” The good news is that we have e-mail and are in constant communication, and the bad news is that every day anonymous e-mails ask if we want to enlarge random body parts that we may not even have!

If you are an easygoing person, you just let these new millennia challenges roll off your back, and get a good laugh out of the cells, spam and lack of customer service. If, on the other hand, you are more of a results-oriented type-A, control personality, you tend to become stressed at the frustrations rather than entertained.

Let’s assume that you are the type of person who actually believes that products have a need to deliver what they promise. Even though this is an old-fashioned concept, it certainly would be nice if it were true even some of the time. Perhaps you think that salespeople should smile, be knowledgeable and courteous. You may even think that service people should be able to solve problems related to the products they support. You may be anachronistic, or behind the times, but more often than not, the world we live in today doesn’t always match with our vision of how things should be. The real question is how do you cope with a world that over promises and under delivers? How do you manage your stress levels when minor irritations, frequent frustrations, and unfulfilled expectations rob you of your good humor?

The simple answer is to adjust your expectations. That is good advice, but before you adjust you must notice that your happiness quotient is at risk. You must become aware that you are not as joyful as you once were or might be. Then rather than blaming your mood on those random circumstances, you might look a little deeper at the factors that are behind the irritations, frustrations, and expectations. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a high need for control?

  • Do you hope for a time when everything is working?

  • Do you let little things get to you?

  • Do you attach your joy factor to your level of accomplishment?

  • Do you wish problems could be resolved easily and quickly?

  • Do you let the “To Do’s” weigh you down?

If you answered, “Yes” to three or more of the above questions, then you could be setting yourself up for a series of bad days. There is a way out of this dilemma, but it requires some do diligence. If you are ready to admit that you want to take the steps, then read on, hope is on the way.

    1. If you notice that your joy factor is suffering, ask yourself, “When was I last in a good mood?” Think back to the last time you felt joyful.
    2. Then ask yourself what robbed you of your joy? Take a minute and jot down all the joy robbers without judging their validity.
    3. Take the “joy robbers” one-at-a-tome, and ask yourself “What can I do about this?” If you determine action steps, then mark them on a reasonable timeline. If you don’t, then see who you know who can do something to move the problem closer toward solution. If you think of a person, call or e-mail him or her and ask the necessary questions.
    4. If you can’t do anything about the item, and you can’t think of anyone who can help you, consider releasing the item and letting it go.
    5. Take each day as a moment in time. Whether your definition of a day is 4, 6, 8, or 10 hours, remember that it is a finite amount of time.
    6. Invite yourself to set reasonable, and attainable goals that you can, in fact, accomplish. Make sure the list is do-able given the appointments that you have scheduled.
    7. Put your energy into causing those goals you have set for yourself.
    8. Each evening acknowledge all progress, even if it is not the ultimate realization of your tasks. Then realistically set new “To Do’s for the next day.
    9. Ask for support, assistance, guidance, help, and wisdom from possible sources all in your life.
    10. Validate, validate, validate all progress, movement, and effort expended. Then, let go! What you can’t get done will not really matter so much in the long run. No tasks left undone are worth taking yourself to task. Your relationship with yourself is more important than any “To Do.” The way you talk to yourself is critical to your overall well-being and joy factor. Be kind, gently, and compassionate when you don’t live up to your expectations. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship there is because it is the central template from which all others are formed.

The serenity prayer that is said in Alcoholics Anonymous says it simply, and if we can remember it every day, especially when we set the bar too high, it will reduce the stress of daily life.

“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change…Courage to change the things I can… and wisdom to know the difference…

Let go of the need to be perfect, and let yourself be the person that you are!

Category: Work-Life, Balance
Print page