Whenever I felt frightened about a new venture, my mother would share her favorite quote by Franklin Roosevelt “ The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. That has stayed with me through many a scary time. It made so much sense but unfortunately I think the times have created a new metaphor around fear. Essentially, we are now in the midst of a culture that seems to love to dole out fear as if it were candy for the masses.
Not a day goes by without some news that informs us that we must avoid something that might be detrimental to our well being. If you watch any of the 24 hour news channels, you’re more than likely to discover something frightening every few minutes. Even if the anchor person is discussing a subject that is somewhat tepid, you can rest assured that they’ll be a scroll underneath them reporting on a murder or a new salmonella scare. Our bodies are programmed to help us to “fight or flee” if we are under siege. This mechanism is at the ready whether it is real or imagined.
If our perceptions are such that we feel under attack many times during the day, the constant flooding of cortisol throughout our systems will eventually damage our bodies ability to keep its’ immune system intact. It will also make us anxious and or depressed. In today’s world the media seems focused on scaring the living hell out of us as a form of entertainment. This segue ways into every nook and cranny of our lives. Eating a meal with friends or family has become riddled with dialogue about whether the ingredients are healthy or harmful. One day we hear blueberries could lead us to the promised land the next we are on the road to damnation.
Children are so protected that the days of seeing them running around outdoors is becoming practically extinct. It could make the national news if someone sights a group of kids playing kickball in the streets without helmets, kneepads and an emergency medical kit close at hand. Talking to a stranger in a line at the grocery store might kill you if they have the slightest sniffle and you had better reflect on your behavior if you talk too much, flush the toilet too many times or have a need to call your mother too often. Maybe it’s time to stop feeding the piranhas of fear. Information can be useful or useless. It’s up to you to sort it out. Use it wisely and don’t become its’ slave.
So many people I know are always trying to figure out how they’re going to integrate some fun into their lives.
We spend enormous amounts of time and effort trying to figure out how to relax, while spending equal amounts of time trying to accomplish more in less time. The dichotomy is insane! What very few books in the self-help area ever address is fun. They don’t let you in on the secret that you can have fun in the day to day if you realize that it isn’t something you seek, but something you are. “Become the fun you’re seeking” and you won’t have to wait to have fun. Stress is diminished in its presence, which is what most people don’t understand.
Essentially, fun is the art of playfulness and the ability to resonate with whatever you’re doing in the best possible way. At some point, we became a nation of workaholics. If all you ever think about is going from one task to another without interruption, you’ve become a robot. Instead, try to do as much as you can with an attitude that’s full of gratitude and joy.
Yes, this may sound naïve, but trust me when I tell you that more things will go right than wrong. I’ve tried this technique when I’m traveling, and amazing things have happened. Consider how often overworked employees in airports have to put up with disgruntled travelers. I start having fun with the gate agents. When they ask me how many bags I’m checking, I often respond, “Two, including me.” I get huge guffaws, and sometimes I even get moved into first class! Our interaction has become more humane, and they’re pleased that I’m interested in making our time together fun.
There are so many ways you can make your day more pleasant. In addition, if you’re already enjoying yourself, you’ll be less likely to try to medicate yourself with food, or alcohol. Here are some tips to help you experience more joy during everyday tasks.
*Get some karaoke music and sing in your car while you’re stuck in traffic.
* Talk to people standing next to you instead of using you’re cell phone when you’re waiting in line.
* Let everyone you come in contact with know that you’re interested in them by actively listening. When you act dismissive, it shows how uncomfortable you are with yourself.
*Do all your chores in as playful a way as possible. Try to squelch the old inner tapes that tell you “you can’t have fun until the work is done!” Please..you’ll be dead.
*Wake up and be grateful that you have been given another day to be on this planet.
*Enjoy the ride when you’re driving. You’ll eventually get to where you’re going.
*Make your job as enjoyable as possible. You signed up——no one shipped you off to do forced labor. If you are miserable with your circumstances, attempt to create something you’ll really enjoy.
I realize that there are a lot of situations that create anxiety, fear and sadness, but when life is not handing us lemons we should try to opt for not suffering in advance. Don’t make every day seem like a funeral procession. We are not here for a long time, but hopefully we are here for a good time.