Stress What is it Good For? NOTHING…

Part of embracing the older allegedly more ‘mature’ me has led me to thinking about ways to simplify my life and at least attempt to deal with stress. Stress is a constant in just about everyone’s life and how we deal with stress can affect our health and relationships. I admit I am far from an expert but I constantly try to deal with stress in a variety of ways so I can lead a more not so stressed life.

Our cultural is obsessed with appearance. The media and entertainment industry set standards for how people should look and quite frankly their standards are useless. People are individuals and should look like individuals, in other words dress appropriately and comfortably for your individual body type. People come in all sorts of sizes and shapes with their own unique features and flaws. Embrace that fact, instead of trying to change appearances using cosmetic surgery,  diets that don’t work or unrealistic work-out routines just stay as healthy as you can according to your age and body shape. Wear clothes that are comfortable. I don’t know how many times I have been amused by many women who decide to wear a low-cut outfit or super short dress only to be adjusting the outfit because it might be too tight, too revealing or uncomfortable. If it doesn’t feel right why did you put it on in the first place? As far as men’s ‘fashions’ I am amused anytime I see a video of some idiot tripping because his jeans are too low. Yeah you look cool. NOT!!! So basically don’t stress trying to keep up with the latest fashion styles. Chances are you look perfectly fine.

One stressful habit I have been able to minimize but not eliminate is over-thinking decisions and situations. My mind unfortunately likes to come up with all sorts of different scenarios and most of them consider what can go wrong. For instance, about a year ago my wife and I purchased a home after renting for several years. Worries about moving, how we were going to afford the mortgage, how do we choose what stuff to get rid off when down sizing??? etc.etc.etc Things worked out, our move was smooth thanks to help from friends and church members and we now have a beautiful home for our family and ourselves to eventually retire in. It worked out despite all the worrying and stressing and thinking about all the what-ifs. Over-analyzing isn’t productive and is a waste of mental energy.

Another thing I find myself doing more often is living in the moment. Sure I might plan somethings ahead of time but by and large I do my best to take it one day at a time. When I am successful in this mindset I usually know it because I notice little things that I otherwise might take for granted and overlook For instance, I might have a smooth and short commute because at every intersection I get a green light. Maybe I stop for a coffee on the way to work and the drive thru line is empty. Little things for sure but it makes me feel good about my day when I notice and acknowledge these little things.

I was lucky enough to have seen George Carlin perform several times in my life. I always enjoyed George’s humor because he had keen observational skills. One performance he talked about how people might believe their parents who were deceased were still looking down from Heaven and guiding them in their lives. Mr. Carlin remarked shouldn’t there be a time limit on parenting that expires with your death? After-all what kind of after-life can be joyous if you still need to worry about your kids when they’re grown. Interesting viewpoint, as a parent I do worry about my grown children and unfortunately that worry has led to stress because at times my wife and I found ourselves taking on our children’s problems and stressing over those problems. Now nothing wrong with parents advising and guiding their adult children but I am now learning that my children’s problems are largely their learning lessons for their lives and while I might be concerned sometimes they need to resolve their own issues their own way. Stressing over other people’s problems while trying to handle your own stress can be debilitating.

Associating with people who don’t make you happy is another stress causer. I am amazed when I hear people give advice to someone about keeping in touch with family members who might be down right evil under the guise of “but they’re family, you should make an effort regardless of how they act”. Sounds like great advice but if this family member is an addict or just an annoying stress causer, why put yourself thru that emotional and stress creating situation at all?

Focusing on what you don’t have instead of what you do have is also an annoying stress causer. I have been guilty of this one for sure. I now try to use what I have and it actually presents challenges at times that can lead to exploring a person’s creative abilities. While my motto when younger was “he who dies with the most toys wins” I am working my way down the path that leads to happiness is just having everything you need.

I know there are plenty of more stress causing things people deal with in life but these are the stresses that I am attempting to tame in my life. Getting older might cause aches and pains but it can also provide opportunities to change and grow into a better version of one’s self. All you have to do is embrace the change. Ah yes change, something else that causes stress. Guess stress really is every-where.

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