The Happiness Connection  

Don't let life drown you

Just when I thought I had everything under control ……

We are getting our house ready to go on the market. Anyone who has packed up a house, and isn’t a Marie Kondo disciple, knows you can accumulate a lot of stuff in 13 years.

I made a plan that seemed achievable. I had a trip booked, but I wasn’t worried. I knew if I rolled up my sleeves and dove in, I could have the important work done in the five days between my return and our chosen date to list the house.

What I didn’t know was that I would pick up a bug.

I don’t get sick often. I can’t remember the last time I had a cold. I would have been happy with a cold. I could power through one of those. This has been a flu-like chest problem that has taken me out at the knees.

I know I’m not the only one who has experienced illness or unfortunate circumstances striking at the worst possible moment. It happens to all of us.

I began to fantasize. If only this had happened a few weeks later. I would have treated myself to a few days on the couch, binge-watching Netflix.

Of course, that is unrealistic. Being sick is not like being on holidays. It isn’t fun regardless of whether you think you should be decluttering your house or don’t have a care in the world.

When you have your health, you truly do have everything. Perhaps I was overdue for a reminder.

It would have been easy to become overwhelmed by this situation. I’m pretty sure that would have been my go-to response a few years ago.

I wanted to share my experience this week because I know I’m not the only one who feels that they are in danger of being drowned by their life.

Being overwhelmed happens when you feel there is just too much happening for you to cope with. Some people are more easily overwhelmed than others, but everyone gets to choose how to react when it happens.

Your unconscious response when things begin to pile up may be like mine. You may default to panic and catastrophizing. Just because you have a learned response, doesn’t mean you can’t choose a different one.

That’s what I did this week. I chose not to be overwhelmed. Instead, I kept the following four pieces of advice in my mind.

You can only do what you can do

Get your thoughts away from what might be, and back into the present moment. Worrying about what might happen if you don’t get everything done, isn’t going to help you and is likely to hinder.

Negative emotions will push you into a fight/flight response. This isn’t helpful if you need to find creative ways to solve your problems. It will contract your vision rather than expand it.

Don’t suppress your feelings

It is okay to feel overwhelmed. Pretending you aren’t stressed or unhappy takes a tremendous amount of energy. Acknowledging how you feel will allow those emotions to pass more quickly.

Accept all your feelings, but don’t let them slow you down.

Believe in yourself

You are designed to survive. If you get started, you will probably accomplish more than you expect. Prioritize and then look at individual steps not the big picture.

When I look around my basement, I am overwhelmed. Instead I have chosen one thing to start with. I have a list of fifty small tasks, rather than one huge mess.

Be kind to yourself

The older I get, the more powerful the word kindness becomes. It involves being friendly, generous, and considerate. Too many people forget that we should not only act this way toward others, we should also be kind to ourselves.

Don’t berate yourself for not being able to find the perfect answer to a problem, or get your house decluttered quickly enough. If you need to take a short break, or promise yourself a treat when you finish, do it.

This is the advice that I intend to keep in my head and my heart when I get up tomorrow. I may need to squeeze five days of work into two, but I will work hard not to let that thought overwhelm me.

None of us are finished projects. We are all works in progress. I am learning to deal with life when it seems hard and perhaps a little unkind. It makes me feel good to see personal growth.

When life starts to get on top of you, breathe, remember that you are not a super hero, but you are a survivor, and be kind to yourself.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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