Picture this: It’s Sunday morning, the last day of your academic spring break, whereby you spent most of the time working, doing some aspect of your full-time job or your writing hobby that you do. You are tangled up in all of the stresses that make up your everyday life when all of a sudden … magically … it … appears … whether it is divine providence or by the hand of your own Fairy Godmother (why should Cinderella be the only one?). There it is, literally, in black and white.
Bippity, boppity, BOOM.
Like a thunderbolt from the sky, Tom Muha, and his Sunday article in The Capital, is staring you in the face. In the “Achieving Happiness” column, he writes this week’s tips: Here are steps you can take to ease stress.
People can tell you to let things go, to allow time for yourself, to worry less and live more, yada, yada, yada…but often, you don’t pay attention. Why? Because you are too stressed out to give it any time.
As your Fairy Godmother mystically urges you to lean forward, sip your coffee, and read on, you become engrossed in his tips. You wonder why you’ve never taken the time to do some of these things he’s mentioning that will ease stress. You wonder why you’ve been so hard-headed.
You are so mesmerized, you decide to write a blog post because you’ve been thinking about it for three full days, as you’ve periodically referred to the article you tore out of the paper.
Muha wants you to do some of the following things: Choose to be happy and value it. Realize that happiness is an inside job, and you have to picture yourself being happy. Do it now. Why wait? Practice both appreciation and forgiveness. Create positives that can help counterbalance negatives. Practice being happy and make others happy. Attitude creates gratitude, and others enjoy people with good attitudes. And lastly, always keep your spirits up through meditation, prayer, or communing with nature, no matter what the challenges you face are.
Those were his suggestions in a nutshell.
Simple really, yet so overwhelmingly tough to consider putting into practice.
You remember that time you were in Italy with your husband, sitting outside enjoying a meal, watching people smile and laugh and talk with each other over long lunches; you remember watching the Italians laugh heartily, enjoy their food, laugh some more, and spend countless hours together over wine, the scent of romance in the air, and not a sign of stress to be found.
You remember thinking we’ve got it all wrong back home. You remember the saying you heard all those years ago when you were working in baseball—long, long hours—in addition to working a second job. Those words echo even now: “Work to live; don’t live to work.”
There is a time and place for stress; you recognize this for sure. Couldn’t you take some things off of your own plate that you put on it? In your own ambitious state, you could dump at least a few of them for the time being, you think. You realize this is possible. You realize you have the power to do it.
You learn something you had previously refused to acknowledge before.
Finding balance, happiness, and easing stress are your own doing. You have to admit you bring some of it to your own table.
And perhaps you also learned that Fairy Godmothers—or Godfathers—can come to you in many forms, perhaps even disguised as an article in your hometown newspaper.