August 3, 2010

As A Rule Of Thumb: A Beginner's Guide To Life - Let The Little Things Go

 I don't consider myself the be all end all of good advice and responsible living. I think we all have a lot to learn, and I'm certainly no exception.

But throughout all the learning I've already done - not to mention the mistakes I've made - I've been able to amass a few thoughts on ways to make life a little easier.

And every once in a while these bite-size pieces of advice float around in my head, waiting to be shared, but I never think it's enough to write a whole post. So I came up with "As A Rule Of Thumb: A Beginner's Guide To Life," a (hopefully) helpful little series where I share bits and pieces of my life philosophy. They might be deep and meaningful, or short and shallow, but they'll always be ideas that I try to live by, and which make life a little easier to navigate.

Rule #1

Don't let yourself get overwhelmed by things you have no control over or can't change. It doesn't matter if it's big or small, if you can't do anything about it, it's not worth the energy you would waste getting upset about it. I'm not saying you shouldn't stress if you get in a car accident - anything that has an unpleasant or expensive result is obviously not something you can just ignore. But there are lots of smaller things that tend to overwhelm us in the moment when the very fact that we can't change the situation we're in should allow us to mellow out.

Traffic jams are a perfect example. Or getting stuck behind the garbage truck. Since you can't just turn around and walk away, anywhere you get blocked with your car is almost impossible to get out of until the cars in front of or behind you move.

But what is getting angry and stressed and leaning on the horn going to fix? Nothing.

It's just going to agitate you and raise your blood pressure and make the time you have to wait all the more unbearable. Pretend you're on a road trip and you have an hour left in the drive. And the silver lining? You don't even have to watch the road! Put some relaxing jazz on the radio and take out a novel, or balance your check book, or call your grandmother since you've been meaning to call her anyway.

My point is, do something to take your mind off of the fact that you're stuck in a traffic jam - since there's nothing you can do about it anyway - and pass the time without driving yourself crazy with annoyance.

What do you do to calm down in a stressful situation?


Desiree said...

Oooh, great series! The last traffic jam I was stuck in, all kinds of people were honking and being ridiculous. As if honking the horn would magically clear the accident! People are dumb sometimes.

I do my yoga breathing when I get in a tough spot - I'm not so evolved I do it all the time every time but I do it more often than not and that counts! :-)

Ellen said...

Oh my gosh, I totallly need to remember this the next time the train is delayed AGAIN when I'm already running late. Cussing to myself (or, um..out loud) is not going to get me anywhere, even if it does make me feel better for a brief moment!