It startled me, and at the same time, it made me think about how often we choose to let ourselves get to a point where we become so stressed, so caught up with worrying about the unknown and the might be, that we become frigid with fear. So, frigid, in fact, that just one little thing could shatter us.
Every day I see them, the people so caught up in their fears, so focused on worrying, and I wonder how anyone can live like that? I want so much to help them, yet how do you get someone to choose to let go of their fears and focus on the fun? To focus on the laughter of life? Because stress, worry, fear, laughter, fun, and joy are all choices—choices that each of us makes.
So many people don’t know how to manage stress, and yet we each choose what to stress about. Stress isn’t something that is caused by external factors; stress isn’t caused by other people (although their actions and choices may contribute if we let them). We each choose what situations we want to face; we each choose how we will react to those situations.
For example, perhaps you got up late this morning. You can choose to stress about it and let it cascade into a series of irritations that end up as one huge stress-filled morning or day, or you can decide to simply adapt to the fact that you’re starting later than usual and flow with it. Stress or acceptance—it’s your choice.
Maybe you hear that some changes are coming in your department at work and you start worrying about it. How will it affect me, my position? Will it affect my promotion, my bonus? And pretty soon you’re so overwrought you can barely think, let alone function, and to what end? Has it made the transition of the change any easier? Has it given you any insight into what changes are coming? No to all of these.
So, while I may not be a complete advocate of Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”), I think he’s on a more balanced path than most people.
Each of chooses whether to worry and stress, or to laugh and have fun. So, why don’t more people choose fun? Why do so many choose a cold dark room when a warm, sunlit one is right next door? And then I realized…they don’t know that the warm, sunlit room is right next door. They can’t see it. Their focus is so narrow, that they only see what’s immediately in front of them. If I want them to know that they have another choice; if I want them to see that they can choose fun and laughter, then I have to somehow help them see that that choice is available.
Not an easy task, especially when someone doesn’t want to see. I might be able to reach out and convince some to look around and find the light, but what about the others? How could I possibly leave anyone out there in that cold, dark, inhospitable place? How could I make them understand that there was something better just a few feet over?
And then I realized…I was doing it to myself. I was choosing to worry about things I had little to no control over. I can’t MAKE people do anything. I can help to provide alternatives, I can offer road signs, and assistance, but I can’t MAKE anyone follow the alternative paths I offer, I can’t MAKE them read the signs I put up.
No, all I can do is follow the sunlight, follow the laughter, and make sure I scatter the path with lots of love and joy. And when I see someone heading for that cold, unlit room, I can offer them a hand or hug, and hope that I warm them up enough to keep them from shattering.
Share a hug with someone today 😉