Dharma arrived right on schedule and as we sat down to breakfast, I poured the tea. "Dharma, I'm a mess. My life has become kind of crazy here recently and I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels. What's that old saying, 'The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.' Yep. That about sums it up." Dharma looked a little sad. "Tadpole," he said quietly, "I can see you are experiencing some unnecessary pain and that saddens me. You've let your life take control of you rather than the other way around. A frog's life is really simple, my boy, but he insists on making it complicated. I know what can help simplify your life and make feel a little bit happier."
Sounded good, no great, to me so I asked him for more details. For a happier, somewhat simpler life, he suggested I do the following things. Maybe they'll work for you, too.
1. Conquer my tech addiction. It's said that money may be the root of all evil (and, therefore, unhappiness) but technology comes in a close second. How many times a day do we check our email, text messages, social media accounts, and the world news each day? Most of us have become addicted to staying current. All this "checking" is leaving us with precious little time for anything else. Dharma suggests that I not check my email/social media for at least one hour after I wake up. Furthermore, he says that we all need to unplug for at least thirty minutes every day. Instead of checking what everyone else is doing, we should spend that time "chilling out." That could mean going outside and laying on the grass and watching the clouds or stars. It could also mean laying on your bed or the couch and watching a bug crawl across your ceiling. What you do isn't as important as simply doing nothing and giving your mind a chance to reboot.
2. Next up, is for me to embrace my fear. Dharma believes that all frogs, humans too, are motivated by two fears; fear of failure and fear of insignificance. "He believes we must consciously choose to fear insignificance more. "Because only when we become terrified of wasting our potential and squandering our dreams—more terrified than we are of depleting our savings, say, or having to go without premium cable—will we dare to leave unfulfilling jobs (relationships, lifestyles, etc.) and live boldly." We were all born to be significant. Wow, that's a scary thought! At least for me.
3. Don't just listen...hear. research shows that we spend about 55% of our time listening. But for most of us, that time is wasted because we don't really hear what is said. Stuff just goes in one ear and out the other. Research also shows that two days later, we only retain about 25% of what we heard. To improve our focus, Dharma suggests we avoid interrupting the person who is speaking and avoid "speech writing." i.e. planning your response while someone is still talking. Boy Howdy! am I ever guilty of that! Dharma believes that it is best to wait about three seconds before jumping in with our response. Those short three seconds gives our brains a chance to absorb what was just said and also allows us to formulate our own thoughts in response. Three seconds can seem like a long lull in the flow of conversation but those three seconds can help us uncomplicate our lives. How? We don't have to spend so much time after-the-fact wondering what was told to us (instructions from our boss, the kid's new school schedule, etc) and hoping that what we think we heard was actually correct. Sometimes, too, we have to go back and ask again. Just because we didn't hear what was said to us. Next up on my "do less and be happier" list is,
4. Cure my free-floating malaise. We all have days when we feel off-center. In the 80s, that might have been a clue to check our biorhythms with a mood ring. But here in the 21st century, we know what we need to do. And that is put our heads in clouds. Or, rather, tilt our heads back and look at the clouds. "Take a few minutes to marvel at the evocative, poetic beauty above you is a powerful, uplifting meditation. "Clouds invite us to see the exotic in the every day." Being in awe of the small things around us lifts our spirits and makes us happier and more grateful for the lives we have.
5. Don't sweat the small stuff. Pick and choose wisely which things you feel are the most urgent. Do those first. If the rest of the items on your to-do list don't get done today, or tomorrow...don't worry about it. The key is to find your optimum groove; where do you feel happiest and still get the things done that absolutely must be taken care of? The rest of it, as they say, is just icing on the cake. And FYI, the cake can taste even better without the frosting. The sugary coating on your cake of life often disguises the real flavor. And if you absolutely must have the icing, then remember a little bit goes a long way.
After Dharma hopped away and I had my kitchen tidied up, I sat down to think about what he said and to find ways to simplify my own life. Living in the moment and not worrying too much about the things we have yet to do can go along way in reducing stress. And less stress means more happiness.
Please stop back by tomorrow for a look at butterflies in celebration of National Learn About Butterflies Day. Until then, I wish you