“The burden of self is lightened when I laugh at myself.” - Rabindranath Tagore
Do you ever get bogged down and suffocated with the silly drama that surrounds you? Everywhere we look we find people creating drama from nothing. Twisting words, taking things the wrong way, finding fault, making gross assumptions and believing we know what is going on with someone is often at the heart of this dilemma.
I sometimes want to shout, "Enough, already!"
The world can look fairly ugly on its own without misinterpreting some petty comment or look. The truth is, we have no idea what is going on with others. We don't know their pain, their baggage, their home situation, their work environment or the deep, dark questions that keep them awake at night. And they don't know ours.
So what if we just lighten up a bit? How can we change our own attitude and then work on changing the attitudes of those around us by killing them with kindness?
Stop and assess
Is there anything you can do to stop this? A wonderful therapist once told me to make a list of all the things that were troubling me. Then he told me to put them in two columns: Things I can change and Things I can't do a blamed thing about. It was a real eye-opener to see how many things were on the can't change side. If there is nothing we can do to change it, we have to let it go. Period. If it is something we can change, we need to create a plan and put it into action.
Resist returning nasty with nasty
When someone is rude to us, we can't absorb her unhappiness and allow it to alter our disposition. What we can do is to return unkindness with kindness, expressing a sincere concern for her. A simple, "Is there anything I can do for you?" or "I'm listening if you need to talk about it" will go a long way toward helping her lighten up.
Find your own happy thoughts
Peter Pan could only fly if he thought happy thoughts. Likewise, if we want to lighten up and soar, we need to find our own happy thoughts. Create a sort of mental medicine cabinet of things that make you happy. Your children, spouse, talents, hopes and goals for the future, a particular date or vacation you took. When you face ill feelings or a difficult person, take a moment and pull out a happy remedy. When you are refreshed, address the situation.
Spiritually Minded Is Life Eternal. Stop and ask yourself, is this really important in the larger picture? Is this little bit of trouble I'm experiencing going to have an impact on my eternal salvation? The answer will more than likely be no. If not, put your mind on more spiritual matters and slough off the world. Focus on what is going to affect you and your family in the long run. Spiritual matters always trump worldly issues.
Smiling has tremendous benefits that will help you and others around you thrive. It reduces your own stress and heart rate. It encourages others to smile, also reducing theirs. It builds trust and empathy between you and whoever might have issues. Smile when you don't feel like it and pretty soon you will.
If the issues at hand do need to be addressed, good honest communication is the ticket. Be honest. Share your feelings. Invite others to share theirs. Get the problems out of your head and onto the path of reconciliation. Share what you need to, but do so in a loving way with a smile on your face and, if it is comfortable for you, physical contact. The small act of touch can do a great deal to diffuse a hot temper. Putting your hand on someone's shoulder or holding their hand will immediately lower their stress.
Each day do something silly
Give yourself the gift of silliness. Do something preposterous every day. When life at work became too stressful, I would page myself over the loudspeaker (everyone knew my voice), put a wastebasket on my desk and label it INBOX, or sit and blow bubbles. When my family was in the throes of drama, I would sing at the top of my lungs, "There is beauty all around, when there's love at home." It is a song from my faith, and I love it dearly. Before long, everyone would take a deep breath and start laughing. Find the inner child and let her shine just for a few moments each day.
Now for the cliches. Life is short. Stress will kill you. Lighten up. God is still in charge. Get out there and have some fun.