In our lightning-paced, media-laced, rat-raced world, we are bombarded by every kind of stress conceivable. (Note: I talk about the Speed of Life in more detail on MariaShriver.com).
While everyone handles stress differently, I’ve noticed that to live with these stressors, some people may choose to use a cynical or dismissive posture like a shield to deflect all that comes in their path. I believe that coldness and anger are really just hurts or fears that have hardened. And, when we’re hard like that, nothing sticks. So, many become more connected to their iPhones than the people in the world around them. In time, it makes this "disconnected" state-of-being the norm, and that actually makes stress more acute.
With natural disasters, incredible tragedies, financial crises, and so on, it is difficult to turn your head down to your electronic device, and not realize that something needs to give, right? .This is the first generation of children predicted to not outlive their parents due to stress-related issues, and the number of people who reported stress-related problems in the past year has gone up immensely.
Ok, yes, stress is real, life is imperfect. In my book, Balance Your Life, Balance the Scale, I equate it to the difference between the baker and the cook. Anyone who likes to cook knows that when you’re cooking, you can sprinkle in a little of this and add a dash of that without the real need to “measure” anything out. Sometimes the dish tastes delicious, and other times, well let’s just say WAY TOO MUCH GARLIC!! Life is like the cook – it sprinkles stuff in unexpectedly that turns out to be amazing, and sometimes, it gives us something that is just awful.
But, in baking, there is little room to sprinkle or dash anything – you have to measure things out carefully or you end up with a big flop completely inedible!! Let life be the “cook”, we are the bakers. And, to be like “bakers’ in our lives, everything we do is a choice, and we choose to add things in to our lives with purpose and intention.
So, while "stress" is a part of life, we can choose to do things to combat the negative effects of stress, so we can stay connected to the world around us, our purpose, and get back to basics - humanity...
If we choose to make a difference, touch lives, connect with our goodness and share our strengths the cynicism melts away. These can be little gestures, or bold, committed actions. If you take tens of millions of them everyday and turn them loose on the world, our lives, ALL of our lives, will be noticeably better...
Here are 3 examples of things we can do to melt the cynicism and stress away, touch lives, connect with our each other, and make our own lives better in the process:
Share your gifts - Focus on what you CAN do, what your GIFTS are, and serve others from the heart…when we help others, we heal ourselves. If you love to paint, offer to paint a friend’s home or office or go to your local shelter and offer to paint there! If you love to scrapbook, offer to scrapbook your friend’s photos or make a scrapbook collage for your child’s school.
Share in Your Community – Get involved in your neighborhood by using your talents to organize an event – if you’re a musician, create a Neighborhood Jam Night, if you love to cook, try a Town Tasting where home cooks can share their tastiest creations, if you love sports, set up an Annual Football on the Square event! You get my drift.
Volunteer with a Nonprofit– Share your gifts with a nonprofit organization and offer to do something for them that lights you up. This is Terry Grahl’s formula for finding volunteers who are invested in her organization, Enchanted Makeovers – she always asks the volunteers what they love to do, as opposed to assigning “just anything” to do!
Connect with Children– Either in your local school, shelters, places of worship, there are children everywhere we can serve with our time and talent. Teach a child your favorite skill or hobby, and your spirit will soar!
Be a supporter – Hold others up in your highest regard. Support somebody’s dreams or aspirations. If you are having a hard time being a supporter, surround yourself with people who hold you in their highest regard, and naturally you will begin to do the same for others. True supporters know each other’s strengths, abilities, and flaws, and believe in each other no matter what! Find supporters at your local church, community service organization, friendship circles, or faith-based networking groups and online communities.
Be a Teacher and Be Open to Learning from Great Teachers– Teaching gives us a sense of purpose and value that naturally relieves stress because we are connecting with others on something we are truly passionate about! And, our lives are always teaching others just by our actions. There are lots of ways you can ‘teach’ without necessarily being a school teacher.
Live and Take Action – What do you want to teach? What would you like to learn? Take action on those things!! Our lives are always teaching others just by the actions we take. Sure, I can write about kindness and teach a class about kindness, but if I ignore the man holding the door for me to walk into the classroom, I am actually teaching coldness. Let your life be your lesson and your classroom, where you constantly learn and teach.
Join a Group, Network, or Organization – Share yourself, your life lessons, your mistakes, your successes with a group or network. Share your knowledge and connect with others who have something to share with you as well. You can even offer to teach a class on a skill, passion, or hobby that would enrich the group and give you an opportunity to help others!
Be a Mentor – I am so grateful to the many mentors I’ve met in my lifetime – some knew they were mentoring me, while others just ended up being a great mentor by their actions and words. So, if an opportunity arises for me to mentor someone on something I’ve learned, I share what I can with them. If a person has the courage to ask me to be a mentor, I am eager to help.
I am also careful to remember that teachers come in many forms, not just older, wiser people. Nature has been a great teacher to me – learning from birds that while soaring looks simple, it takes a lot of work, even pain, to learn how to fly, and often that bird was kicked out of its nest by its mother. My children, my precious gifts from God, have been my greatest teachers. They remind me every day of our essence, who we are each born to be. And what do they love the most? Sharing, listening, connecting, being present, looking at the moon and stars in the sky, telling me a silly story, laughing, giggling, dancing, living…
Featured Image Source Found HERE.