Friday, June 10, 2011

Lighten Up.

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.
~~~Michel de Montaigne

I think we take ourselves way too seriously. It drives me crazy. We worry and fuss over such little details that, in the end, really do not matter at all, not one stinking iota. It's crazy, isn't it?

But yet, we all do it. I guess the bigger question is, why?

Perhaps we think we will miss out on something. That there is a better choice out there to be made, that someone else may snag the prize, that we will be left with regret. But that rarely happens. Or maybe we worry too much about what others think. That they are judging us by our choices.

Think about something you took way too seriously, that stressed you out, but is only a faint memory now. Like perhaps, choosing a preschool for your 3 year old, or worrying about the wedding gown you chose, or what you weighed 10 years ago. Or the math test your 4th grader tanked. How about the colleague that you thought about at night. You know, the one that made you nuts. The one that is no longer even living in the same state.

I can attest that those were some of my own "heavier moments," and in the end, I should have lightened up because they meant nothing. My daughter played in preschool and had fun. She excels in school. My yellowing gown is hanging in a closet and I am still happily married. And I cannot even remember the work colleague's name. But they all seemed so important at the time. I took them way too seriously.

You would think that time and experience are good teachers, and that as we age we get wiser and stop all that nonsense. Not true. I work with the elderly and some of them are still stressing. Now it is all about their kids and grandkids and what Joan down the hall at the Assisted Living is doing on that committee. I tell you, it just never ends.

Unless we make a firm decision to stop it. To draw a line in the sand.

Many of my patients say they never really understood what was important until they got sick. Then they got it. But facing death should not be the reason to let go of the worry and the fuss. Life itself should be the reason. A lighter, fun life.

Joy. Happiness. Laughter. Remember those?

We cannot control everything and so I believe we focus on things we can control, usually minutia, but seemingly important to us. However, we really need to step back for a moment and stop all the crazy thinking. It doesn't help anyway and only stresses us all out. And many times, actually most times, things turn out fine regardless of all the fuss and worry. And too many times, all that fuss and worry created a new problem that wasn't even there to begin with.

Life is a journey with no map and no GPS. Many obstacles will be placed in our path as we move forward, no matter how much we try to prevent them. It is all beyond our control anyway. It really is. Best sometimes just to let go and enjoy the ride.

And what are we teaching our kids? Do we even let them have a light moment? Everything is so weighed down and so serious. What ever happened to a carefree childhood? No wonder depression and suicides are way up for kids and especially teens.

You know, Johnny is not going to have a slimmer shot at Harvard if you don't pick the perfect preschool. Your daughter will not flunk out if she misses a day of school so that you can play hooky together and have some much needed fun. Grades in 4th grade are not that important, not really. That work colleague is an ass, and will always be an ass, but there is nothing you can really do about it. So, let it go. Just let go.

We really do need to lighten up. Slack off a bit. Let a little bit more of life in. Not take everything so seriously.

It all ends anyway, this life we try to control. We hang on too tight. But if we loosen our grip, we might actually have some fun along the way.

Heavy thoughts bring on physical maladies; when the soul is oppressed so is the body. ~Martin Luther

Rule number one is, don't sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is, it's all small stuff. ~Robert Eliot

Wanna fly? You got to give up the shit that weights you down. ~Toni Morrison

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.-- L. M. Montgomery

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars... and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers - for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. ~Osho

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