Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mind [fulness] Over Matter

Rent was due, and I was short. I could have berated myself over my lack of planning [I knew this was due, what was I thinking], sending myself into a frenzy of “what-ifs.” What if they completely cut me off?  What if I die homeless and penniless, and no one ever loves me, kind of thing?

But I had been reading about mindfulness from a number of authors. Something that really stuck out to me was something Mark Williams and Danny Penman said in their book, Mindfulness

“Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself. When unhappiness or stress lies overhead, rather than take it personally, you learn to treat them as if they were black clouds in the sky and observe them with friendly curiosity as they drift past.

In essence, mindfulness allows you to catch negative thought patterns before they tip you into a downward spiral. It begins the process of putting you back into control of your life. ”

It is easy to get stuck in that paralyzing pit of “oh, gosh, what am I gonna do,” which   blocks any creativity for solving problems. We lash out at others or beat ourselves up. Both tend to backfire in a bad way. Neither solves anything.

The kind of useless ruminations that I am prone to engage in are not useful because they doesn’t solve anything. In fact, the frenzy paralyzes or stunts any action. When I am stuck in a stressful situation, I need to step back and figure out how I’m going to deal with it. There will be plenty of time for beating yourself up later, if need be [and often there is].

With my problem-solving skills able to flex freely, thanks to my newfound mindfulness, I was able to solve my bill problem much more coolly than if I had freaked out about it like I had originally planned.

c. 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stress-Free Jobs That Pay Well??

photo credit. bsm 2011

Think your job is stressful? I would imagine we all do. Ever find yourself envying what we think might be a less stressful job? I know I have. There are several jobs that I used to think were stress free. I’ve even tried a few of them, to no avail, I'm afraid.

Surfing the net one day, I happened to find a link that said “Stress free jobs that pay well.” It sounded perfect to me. Sign me up for one of those! Thinking I had found the Holy Grail, I eagerly clicked on it.

I laughed bitterly, when I saw that the first listing was Yoga Instructor.  The writer of this article had only been a student of yoga, I'd imagine. I have witnessed up close, the stress of being a yoga instructor. My boyfriend is one. It is all very zen until you deal with all of the bureaucracy of a business. Corporate executives don’t understand yoga, yet they are often in charge.

He would often show up for class only to find that the room was being used for something else.  He would, then, have to explain to 10 students why class was moved or cancelled.  You will always have the stress of unmet expectations, with anything, I’d imagine. Many women are looking to feel the burn with a more cardio, power yoga feel; not true yoga. That’s not him.

I laughed again when I saw Massage Therapist on the list. I have a friend who was an MT, and swears she’d rather die than massage another fat sweaty body. She was quite adamant that she would never do it again.

I’ve heard stories that make my stomach turn. Ask any massage therapist to bend your ear with their horror stories with things like poor hygiene and uncontrollable bodily functions. I’m sure they also have to deal with unmet expectations as well.

The thing is, even the most seemingly peaceful, perfect job has it’s share of stress. What is stressful to you might not be stressful to me, and vice versa. It’s not necessarily the stress of the job, it’s your reaction to the stress, that makes it bearable or unbearable.

When you pursue your passion, when you are doing what you love, you aren’t stressed.  There will, no doubt, be things you don’t like, potentially stressful parts, but they won’t bug you as much.

My own quest for a zen job led me in several directions. I haven’t found it yet, because it doesn’t exist. But I can honestly say that my writing career is probably the most zen of anything I’ve tried. Not that it doesn’t have it’s share of stress, it does. But since it is my passion, it makes the stressors a little more bearable.

c. 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

2 Hookers, an Army Private and a Pizza Place

I tried not to stare at the 2 hookers and army Private in the corner booth of the local pizzeria where we play trivia on Friday nights. They were quite a sight, to say the least. We had come early to eat dinner because I was starving. When the quiet young soldier came in with two, shall we say, not so quiet ladies. Well, at least, one of them was a female; the other, I couldn’t be sure.

They caused quite a scene. The two hookers  were all over the guy, who was basking in it. It was an uncomfortable scene, to say the least.

I felt particularly bad for the waitress, Jennifer. She handled it with the utmost class. She smiled graciously, unruffled. [I tend to take notes on how other service providers handle stressful situations, so that I can learn how to do it better]. When the more mannish hooker started ordering her around, she didn’t let it faze her. She just did her job, like they were any other group.

They were running up quite a tab, so the soldier was asked for his credit card, which he frantically realized was missing. Well, upon hearing this news, the hookers were out, like well, hookers who realize their client has forgotten their wallet; leaving the poor guy bewildered and SOL.

I sat watching all of this kind of on the edge of my seat, with a combination of unease in the pit of my stomach, and curiosity of what in the world was going to happen next.  I was also wondering who was feeling the most stress.  It seemed there was enough to go around. I knew I was feeling some, and I wasn’t even in the situation.

The guy came back maybe a half an hour later, and handed the waitress several bills. I could tell from the expression on her face that it was way more than he owed.

The restaurant handled it with aplomb. The offenders were dealt with, without incident. It’s a big place. The only reason I knew what was going on is because we were in the booth next to them.

c. 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In Praise of Naps

Few kids like naps. When I was little, the last thing I wanted to do was take a nap. Today I can’t get by without one.

Naps have somehow gotten a bad rap. Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that napping is lazy. That’s simply not true. Naps are smart. If more people napped, I think we’d be better workers. We’d also be nicer. Stress abounds with unrest, as does reptilian behavior. 

The Spanish are famous for their siestas, which are considered a necessity, not just a luxury.
 They know the benefits  of naps. They know a nap will;

- Give you more energy
- Improve your productivity by over 30%
- Improve your alertness by up to 100%
- Reduce stress and the risk of heart disease by 34%
- Allow better negotiation and communication
- Reduce risk of accidents at work and on the road
- Increase your happiness and wellbeing

 Naps can increase your brainpower. Several corporations have caught on to this. Employees of Nike, British Airways, Silicon Valley, even NASA encourage their employees to nap. They brought in comfy sofas to accommodate power naps.

A nap will allow you to see things differently. It changes your perspective on a problem you’ve been musing about Give you new ideas and the energy to work through problems more effectively. Few things compare to a great nap. I should know; napping is my hobby. I live for naps. I love the refreshment I feel when I wake. I feel like I can conquer the world.

Da Vinci wrote, “It is a very good plan every now and then to go away and have a little relaxation…When you come back to the work, your judgment will be surer, since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose the power of judgment.”

SARK wrote a fantastic book in praise of naps called Change Your Life Without Getting Out of Bed.  She says, “Napping softens all the edges and smoothes the shredded places. Naps are the adult version of a child’s fort.“  And it’s true!!

c. 2011