Friday, 14 February 2014

On 18:51 by Victoria Stanham in , ,    No comments
Have you realized how contagious mindsets are?

Spend ten minutes with a friend who’s always stressed out of her mind and you end up in a frenzy yourself, running around like headless chicken. If you’re lucky, something will make you stop and realize “what am I all strung up about?” If you’re not, you’ll go through the rest of your day completely certain that this is one of those days when things just don’t work out for you.


You keep calm and remember your direction.

I’ve been practicing what I preach all week (sometimes makes me think I should keep my trap shut). Life was pretty determined to test my mettle and my theory.

Conclusion: it ain’t easy baby; especially the “keeping calm” bit.

However, I got through the test, and was rewarded with a further clue to the Life-puzzle. It has to do with how to keep calm when everything and everyone is refusing to cooperate with your plans.

I’m giving you the cheat-sheet for free. But, rest assured, Life will test you on your comprehension of her lesson anyway… she’s one of those teachers that you can never hoodwink for long.

In a nutshell: You keep calm by seeing the wider picture.

Don’t worry, I’ll spell it out.

Everything hinges on the keep calm bit.

Why do you need to keep calm?

Because it’s the only way of really remembering your direction.

If you’re not calm, you may think you’re remembering your direction. But all you’re really doing is DOING the items on your To Do List, which you have determined will take you to your direction.

Now that means you’re really confused about what your direction is.

Your direction is NOT your destination or goal (i.e. it’s not something that will happen then, it is something that is happening now).

Your direction is NOT the road you’re traveling (i.e. it is not the items on your to-do list that will get you to your destination).

Your direction is your mindset (i.e. the how you’re getting to your destination, the way you’re facing every item on your to-do list).

Your direction is like a mission statement: I want to have and occupy all my available space, I want to do things with joyful ease, I want to be happy about life, I want to be giddy-in-love with what I do no matter what it is.

It is within that encompassing mindset that your to-do’s get done. You can do all the stuff in your to-do list anyway, in any way… but the how will make it a journey-you-love or a journey-you-hate.

So, I repeat, you need to keep calm in order to remember your direction.

What does “keep calm” mean in practical terms?

Keep calm means feel where you are.

Feel means open up your senses (i.e. soften your focus, widen your perspective, find the bright-spots, see things in context).

Learning to stop and find your direction within the fuller context takes time, patience, practice and a strong determination to live your life differently.

Other people’s stress is contagious. I know I easily absorb others’ mindsets. I may wake up feeling peachy but somehow pick up a floating waft of stress from my partner, the bus conductor, or the grumpy neighbor in the elevator. Suddenly I’m all caught up in the endlessness of my to-do list for the day, feeling already frazzled and tired before even having tackled the first item. My bed and my rest seem so far away… all these things to do between happy-sleepy-oblivion and me (work, phone calls, laundry, cooking, carpool, groceries, random interruptions, etc. etc. etc).

The point is, you can deal with most things. You do it every day and you’re still here. What is making you go bonkers is this extra stress-germ you picked up.

Well, you have to sneeze it out of your system.

Sneezing is a high-impact form of breathing that gets uninvited guests out of your system in a blast. Use it (metaphorically) with your picked-up stress-germ.

How to get rid of the stress germ and inoculate yourself from further contagion.

1. Notice you’re stressed.

This is the easy bit, you probably know what “stress” feels like for you.

2. Come back to your senses.

Feel your body, release the tension in your feet, your sitting-bones, your armpits, your hands, soften your eyes and your face and your jaw.

3. See the problem in the wider context.

This is like taking the fear-factor away from a scary-movie by opening your field of vision to include the frame of the screen, and the room where the screen is, and the people around you. Suddenly the scary-movie is just a movie… which doesn’t make it go away, it just puts it in its proper place within the wider picture.

I literally do this with people when they are arguing with me, so as not to get sucked into the argument and the tense energy and let the situation spiral out of control. You just cannot hate somebody whose hair is suddenly set alight by a stray ray of the setting sun on a summer’s eve, no matter how much they are shouting at you and ferociously gesticulating. And you can only notice the beauty of it if you’ve opened up your focus to include the setting sun.

4. Breathe calmly taking in the vastness of it all.

Realize you can’t control Life, you can’t even comprehend it fully or your place in it. Your to-do list means nothing and will get you nowhere really; but it still has to get done. All you can do is choose your direction, your mindset, how you want to do that which has to be done, and flow.

5. Make your mindset strong through practice.


You need to practice returning to your senses, until you can hold a steady note of peace within yourself even in the midst of frenzied activity. Then you’ll find others can’t suck you into their stressed-out mindsets. And what’s best, you’ll have become the happy contagion germ we all need.


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Image credits:

"Metallic Compass" by digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net

"Happy And Sad Smileys Showing Emotions" by Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

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