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It's Not So Bad

How to cut down on stress in today's stress-filled world? One way is to step back, or pop up a level, and realize that things really aren't as crazy as they seem. As a humorous cracked.com essay "5 Reasons Today Isn't Going to Suck" by John Cheese suggests, "#3. It's Not as Bad as You Think". Or more politely and seriously, take Rick Hanson's counsel in "Notice That You Are Alright Right Now" and consciously become aware of the brain's over-anxiety, then counteract it:

The brain's default setting of apprehensiveness is a great way to keep a monkey looking over its shoulder for something about to pounce. But it's a crummy way to live. It wears down well-being, feeds anxiety and depression and makes people play small in life.

Even worse, it's based on a lie.

The muttering of fear tells you implicitly, "Watch out, bad things are happening you're not seeing, don't ever think you're completely OK, never let down your guard."

But take a close look at this moment, right now. You are probably alright: No one is attacking you, you are not drowning, no bombs are falling, there is no crisis. It's not perfect, but you're OK.

By "right now," I really mean this instant. When we go into the future, we worry and plan. When we go into the past, we resent and regret. Threads of fear are woven into the mental tapestries of past and future. Look again at the thin slice of time that is the present. In this moment, are you basically OK? Is breathing OK? Is the heart beating? Is the mind working? The answers are almost certainly yes.

In daily life, it's possible to access this fundamental sense of alrightness even while getting things done. You're not ignoring real threats or issues, or pretending that everything is perfect. It's not. But in the middle of everything, you can usually see that you're actually alright right now.

That's probably better than the Fight Club approach, "After fighting, everything else in your life got the volume turned down." ...

^z - 2012-03-13

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