Taking Life Too Seriously?

by Rebecca Huber

Another day, off to work, get the kids going. During the summer they're usually all going in different directions. Your boss is crabby. The coffee is cold. Oh well, God is walking around directly above me with a dismal cloud of dreariness and it's never going to let up. You pray for a modest miracle but none appears.

Your stomach holds butterflies hostage, your eyes radiate pink and your shoulder muscles have made a pact with the devil to remain permanently knotted. Seems we're taking life a little too seriously? You begin to ask yourself if this is all really worth it? Maybe I could check into a monastery for a couple of years. Hold the phone, maybe we need to be paying a little more attention to what we can control, our responses.

Most people can handle short-term stress situations quite well while managing to remain their mostly loving selves. But continuous negative stress can yank out even the closet Mr. Hyde in us. Our physical and mental energies get zapped, leaving us feeling drained and empty. Taking life too seriously does the body and spirit no good. Yet approximately 30 percent of the American population claims to endure high stress almost daily; others say they feel stressed out one or two times a week.

Negative stress can alter heart and hormonal rates, seriously damage our nervous, digestive and metabolic systems to say nothing of reduced immunity. Harold Bloomfield and Robert Cooper report in their book, The Power Of Five, that when we are highly stressed, we pump out cortisol like crazy, which triggers localized body fat deposits right around the midsection­­ bummer!

Of course there are good stressors. Seeing your child graduate, taking a vacation, taking up a desired hobby can all produce healthy excitement that leaves us feeling exhilarated and alive. But needless to say we cannot be on vacation every day and it's all those days of running that helped our children achieve their goals. So, how do I get more of the good stuff? The pursuit of simpler pleasures can be helpful. They can fill in the gaps between the times of exciting stress and the low of the negatives and don't take up large blocks of time. These simpler pleasures can help calm our hearts and minds leaving us more able to manage the next wave of mindless business.

Trying to view our circumstances in a different light, taking ourselves "non-seriously" is vital to managing stressful situations. Slow that megawatt thinking process down; cut yourself some slack. After all you would give a friend or family member the same so why not you? Think about it.

I want to leave you with a story that hopefully will make you smile. Early this spring I had a speaking engagement with my Aunts' PEO group. The meeting was held in a member's home and there were about 25 people there. After they opened their meeting they served lunch which was a frozen layered ice cream delight with chocolate sauce. Lunch was served on small silver trays with cloth doilies and napkins, china plates and tea cups. Nothing but the best for these classy ladies out for the evening.

They put me at the head of the line since I was their guest and my dessert was still quite frozen. I returned to the living room and was seated in a small chair with my tray on my knees. I'm always just a little uncomfortable with public speaking until I get going and it didn't help having this small tray perched on my knees with a tall glass of water to boot. I usually try to tell a joke or say something witty that will catch them off guard but it seemed that this particular night I had nothing witty in my head at all. Little did I know this was all about to change! Two bites into my frozen chocolate dessert my fork manages to launch my delight skyward landing in pieces on the carpeted floor. I quickly pick up the big chunks and since it was still frozen it didn't have a chance to ooze into the carpet fiber. But oh how embarrassing.

I had to do some fast talking in my head to keep from completely losing my cool. After all I was still going to have to get up and talk intelligently to these women. Well, I decided I would pass on another dessert and sip the water; maybe I could do that without pouring it on myself or someone else! When it came time for me to talk, I told everyone that I usually tried to say something funny or tell a joke about my business but since I had already managed to throw my dessert on the floor I wouldn't try and top that. We laughed. I will remember that night for a long time to come. Yes, I would be glad to come and talk to your group; just ask my aunt though, she'll say "just don't feed her!"

Till next time, Rebecca.

This article posted to Zephyr online July 11, 1997
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