“I can’t believe this is happening to me right now!”
“This is a disaster!”
“What did I do to deserve this?”
You wouldn’t be human if these words hadn’t come out of your mouth more than once. Saying them doesn’t mean that you are facing a major tragedy. You might get upset simply because you’re stuck in traffic, the baby won’t stop screaming, or you can’t find a parking spot.
The small things in life, the daily stuff that can drive us crazy, are what cause the most stress in our lives. When facing a big crisis, many people find the strength within themselves to cope with the challenges in smart ways. Or they ask for support. It’s the not so critical stuff that can make us insane.
The other day I was doing exactly what I just described when a series of technical challenges happened one after another. My computer stopped working just before I was supposed to host a video meeting. My phone started disconnecting my calls. And my husband informed me that he had found a parking ticket on our car.
As I started to feel myself going insane—before realizing that this would be a perfect time to pause for a few minutes and give myself Reiki—I got a message from a good friend. She told me she had just been diagnosed with an aggressive, stage 4 cancer.
Feeling complete shocked by the news, I couldn’t believe that only a few minutes prior, I had been stressing out over a series of minor problems.
Yes, I know. Practice #9 of the 12 Practices for Living at Full Power is Be human. Be Imperfect. I need to walk the talk more.
But I also know something else.
We don’t need to wait for a wakeup call before we can start keeping things in perspective.
Did you know that embracing stress is actually more important than trying to reduce it? In other words, by identifying and changing your “stress reaction,” you can shift from feeling overwhelmed to being more at peace with the situation. In this article I wrote, “How to Manage Stress. The Surprising Truth,” I break down the process for you.
What are the costs and benefits of NOT keeping things in perspective?
You get pulled into the drama, the pain, the tragedy of a situation that, objectively, is not the end of the world. You feel anxious. You stress out. You drive yourself and the people around you crazy.
The cost is obvious. Your reaction destroys your inner peace. You are risking your health. But believe it or not, there is a benefit to the insanity: You receive attention. You feel important. You think you’re a hero.
Pause. Step back. Look at the situation objectively. Would you like to continue to feel like you are a victim of the situation, or are you ready to shift to a more peaceful, positive, spiritual place?
Gratitude is a powerful energy-shifter. But it is also overused.
I say gratitude every night when I go to bed. I do it while I give myself Reiki and review my day. I love it. It works well for me. But when I talk to my clients about gratitude, many of them say that making a gratitude list is boring.
Keeping things in perspective is a twist on gratitude.
When you are in a reactive mode, when you act like you’re facing the end of the world—and the reality is that no major disasters happened—you want to practice keeping things in perspective. Not blowing things out of proportion.
You can’t keep things in perspective when you are in a middle of a stressful situation unless you are used to practicing it. So why not start now?
Here’s a tangible way to maintain perspective:
Grab a pen and paper (or your journal!) and write this at the top: I don’t take it for granted that…
Then make your list.
Do it! I promise you’ll understand the effects once you give it a try.
Here is my list from last night:
I don’t take it for granted that…
- My adult kids want to spend time with me.
- My husband still loves me after thirty-something years together.
- I live in New York.
- My sister is taking care of my dad (and my daughter) while I live far away.
- I love what I do.
- I lost 90 pounds 14 years ago, and I still maintain it.
- My girlfriends are always there for me.
- My Beacons of Change community is growing.
- Our apartment is cute, comfortable, and cozy.
- There is a beautiful park just four minutes away from my house.
- I am healthy.
You can say that this practice is the same as making a gratitude list, but it feels different. Making the list from a place of not taking things for granted makes all the difference.
Look around you. People get sick. People die. Houses burn down. Floods wash away entire communities. People can lose everything.
Be intentional about keeping things in perspective. You’ll do less judging and feel more at peace.
By the way, I don’t take it for granted that you are reading this article! Thank you!
Want to start practicing now? Post one thing below that you don’t take for granted today.