I came across this quote by Regina Brett over the weekend “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.”
The tendency with holidays (or weekends for that matter) is that we veg. We drink just enough coffee to make it to the couch and then surf – channels. We are a victim to our OWN free time. Why is this?
Maybe we are actually a victim to our non-free time. Those five days between weekends. We feel powerless to affect the outcome of our day. We tend to float along for 9h on a stream of our master’s tide. Not caring to change much, watching minutes tick by until we are free. But strangely the cycle continues. We drown our sorrows in craft beverage and then deal with the hang over the next day with a cup of the black stuff. (Please can you add enough sugar and milk to make this lifestyle palatable?) How can we call this living?
The truth is that in the 9X5 cycle we are training ourselves to be victims. Victims to the man (whoever that is in your life, whoever you make him to be)
What if I did more than just show up?
How is that even possible?
Every morning I have a choice. I have a choice to wake up or call in sick. Yes both have consequences. Maybe I can choose my consequence? I have a choice in what breakfast I eat. I have a choice to make between instant gratification and future health. Either which way I have a choice. I choose to wear an ironed shirt. This is not expected or even suggested in an industry which revers “lifestyle” but I make that choice. I choose to dress up. Every single day. I choose how I want to shape my day. I am making a habit. I don’t get it right all the time but at least I try.
Having made that choice I show up. The choice to get up and create my day. Sometimes it is as small as being positive, other days I have grander plans. At least I have a plan.
Where in your life are you a victim?
Where in your life do you choose?
Carols and various other hymns are well on their way to getting us in the mood. Christmas is only a few weeks away and we are all in dread.
So why is that?
Why is this time of cheer so stressful for most of us?
Most office parties are a time of too much booze, getting too cozy with the secretary and laughing at the bosses bad jokes. But that is just the overture for the main course come end December.
Well the aunt with the hairy chin is waiting for her kiss (it seems like she has been waiting 11 months already). We have to spend money on silly Secret Santa for people we don’t see for another year. We hang out with long lost family who we don’t actually like all that much. I wonder if the feeling is mutual.
We eat and drink way over our limit.
And on top of it all we should be joyful throughout this whole ordeal.
No wonder this all takes its toll on us and we suffer this hangover in Jan. Financially, physically and emotionally.
So what is happening that this time of joy is often a time of great stress?
We fall prey to group pressure to act outside of what is true to us. This pressure is huge, supported by family, religion, friends and the Jones’s. Then if we have kids we they are targeted by big business through advertising which has been building for months.
So what to do?
Christmas is not all bad and some traditions can be good fun (as they should be). My point is we can’t blame anybody but ourselves if we feel out of sorts during this time.
We need a really good understanding of what works for us. What our boundaries are. Sure some of our boundaries can be flexible during this time but unless we have a good idea of what they are we then don’t know which ones we can be flexible with and which ones not.
For example if drink does not make me feel so good I have the choice. Drinking ‘just one beer’ often leads to consuming more. Knowing this and knowing what works allows us to choose for ourselves what we want. We can then either drink that one beer and run the risk of sliding into more or to bring our own bottle of sparkly juice to that family braai. That is your choice. Each choice has a consequence but at least by making a choice you can choose the outcome. This does require active engagement though. And that is what most of us lack. We think we can just float along and be happy. Sorry to burst your bubble. Happiness requires active engagement with our lives and that takes work.
The other problem is that so many things are unspoken and left unspoken around this time of year.
“Last year we had Christmas with his parents, this year it has to be with mine” is just one example.
Rather than leave these traditions unspoken and for everybody to make their assumptions around them: put them out in the open.
If we say how it is for us we allow others to hear us. Maybe just maybe they have the same opinion around some silly traditions.
So where do I start?
Feelings and emotions are a good start. If something gives you a funny feeling in your stomach then that is a good indicator. Just like an indicator in the car, it gives you some good ideas as to something going on. It maybe should give you an indication as to a recommended change of direction. Maybe, just maybe we should pay attention to those indicators and actively engage in our lives.
And here’s to a merry festive season!
Well what does that actually mean?
What standard are we judging John against?
Does it not beg the question “What are your values?” Or better still “What do you value?” “Where do you place value?”
Maybe it is worth thinking about.
What you might just find is that you value things differently to your peers or even closest friends. You might even value different things. So what does this tell us?
It might just reveal our individuality, our uniqueness to some degree.
By asking somebody what they value you are really asking them what makes them unique. How it really is for them.
Maybe, just maybe we see some overlaps and that is where we see commonality, community, humanity…
But let’s not forget within our community we are all individuals with slightly different values and that is the way it should be. Both can be celebrated. Maybe they should be celebrated in ourselves and others.
Values can change and that is OK.
“What do you value today?”
I started doing breathing exercises a few months ago. Every morning.
First thing in the morning. To get my day started the right way. While everybody is still asleep.
The basics are pretty easy. It is called Square Breathing.
Breathe in for the count of seven. Hold your breath for the count of seven. Exhale for the count of seven. And finally hold for the count of seven. Repeat. Seven cycles.
I was keen and wanted to prove that I could do it. However reality was quick and humbling. I started with a count of four. I got distracted often. More often than not actually. Almost always I lost my track somewhere along the line. Thoughts took over my mind while I counted in the dark.
I persist. Not because I have got it right but because precisely I have not. I persist. That is the point. I am slowly getting better. More consistent. Less distracted. More focused.
It has taken months and will continue as do I. For actually I have no choice. I must get better.
I take breathing pretty much for granted, maybe you do too. Why not spend a little time every day doing it consciously?