Stress is very subjective. Perception is both the creation of stress and what we will do with it. It is both personal and unique. What stresses you out may not stress me at all.
Any life event, major or minor, can become a cause of dis-stress. It can be an on-going source of irritation and even victimization. It can also be the beginning of an off-repeated humorous story. Can we take events and turn them into something we can laugh at for decades?
Years ago in a speech I gave on stress to a group of teachers in the U.K. I shared one of the stories my father-in-law told our kids about when he was a kid. Their much loved Grandpa Bert was an easy-going guy, with seemingly not a care in the world who drove my mother-in-law crazy. As a kid he attended a small, rural school.
Now Bert was not a student of academia – in fact he hated sitting in the classroom. During recess while other kids were busy jumping rope or throwing ball, he was busy exploring the tall grass around the little country school, looking for wonderful things such as bugs, worms, caterpillars, frogs – you name it.
“When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. And swing!” Leo Buscaglia
When was the last time you laughed – really laughed – until the tears rolled down your cheeks, your sides hurt and you gasped for air? You laughed and laughed and didn’t want to stop.
Something tickled your funny bone so that in an instant you saw the world differently – your situation was so bad, it was funny – your problem so profound, it was laughable – the ludicrous became the comical. The world had turned upside down and you laughed as you swung in the absurdity of the moment.
“The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.” H. G. Wells
What precipitated that laughter? How did it change how you felt about your world, your situation, yourself? How did it change the minutes and hours afterwards?
“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” Mark Twain
Every day we have the opportunity to begin again – to start over – to write a new chapter in our life story.
We can choose to find solutions instead of dwelling on the insolvability of problems.
We can focus on all our blessings instead of all the things we think we have to have.
We can focus on love instead of hate – laughter instead of crying. We choose our focus.
Love, Laughter and Grace
Every day we are graced with a new beginning. Within each day we can purposefully look for the grace of God in our pain, make a decision to laugh in the midst of our struggles and accept God’s gift of love and then apply it throughout the day.
He is risen
and our lives are forever changed!
It is a time of celebration and rejoicing – a time of excitement and joy.
What does Easter mean to you? How has it impacted your life? What are you personally able to take away from the cross of suffering, sacrifice and death?
As with all things scripturally, it is only when we apply it personally that we are given the greatest gift of peace and joy and assurance.
“And they came to the place which is called The Skull and they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
And he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
“Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!”
(for Don Anderson)
Every now and then
The phone would ring
And he would ask me simply
How is everything?
And though I seldom called him
His kinship kept its hue
He was true
The first time I met him
He was doodling
And again with phantom pen
As he lay fading
From the dawn of the Don
To the midnight gone
He was true
And sometimes we would wonder
What’s in store for him
Whether charcoal clouds would sully
The good lines in him
But even his demons and dragons
Had a wink in the way that he drew
He was true
“But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” Luke 6:27
Love them? Really? Pray for them?
In his book, “Forgive for Good”, Dr. Fred Luskin lists 11 definitions of what forgiveness is and 7 definitions of what forgiveness is not.
In her book, “Forgiving the Unforgivable”, Beverly Flanigan, MSSW, defines how betrayal of people we trust shatter our core beliefs and concept of right and wrong and create unforgivable injuries.
Dr. Klimes in his work on forgiveness has identified 5 steps for “Granting the Gift of Forgiveness.”
There is more and more research and researchers who have written about forgiveness as a necessary ingredient for emotional, physical and spiritual health.
Unforgiveness creates a destructive force in our lives. Within its tenets we find hatred, rage, and revenge – all corrosive and self-destructing emotional reactions to life.
Research studies show that “forgiveness leads to less stress” and fewer health problems. When we fail to forgive, that unforgiveness may be a greater risk factor for heart disease than hostility.
Every once in a while a door opens from our past and allows us to revisit friends and colleagues and experience once again good times from an earlier period in our life even if it is at an otherwise sad occasion.
One of my husband’s college band students had died and I went to Portland over the weekend to attend the memorial service. It was soon evident that this was more than just a memorial – it was a celebration of this talented young man’s life: by family, peers, and past teachers. CCC band Hawaii 002 001
Musicians have a camaraderie and bond shared in their love and expression of music. Mark was an excellent trumpet player, band teacher and administrator. In commemoration of Mark’s life in music, a group of 10-12 musicians played at the beginning and middle of the memorial service.
LeRoy’s band 001At the reception afterwards, 17 jazz musicians formed a band and played the music they loved: the big band sounds of the 40’s and 50’s. It was a celebration of the love they share as musicians. They played for the joy of it in the moment and in remembrance of those no longer with us.
In last week’s blog, “I want to do it all”, I mentioned 3 things to consider when picking and choosing between the things you want to do and are required to do. Becoming flexible allows you to handle additional but temporary responsibilities.Identifying and eliminating time wasters gives us the advantage of effectively scheduling our work week to include both rest and relaxation and projects that feed the soul.
A piece of driftwood will drift down a stream at the mercy of the current, wind and waves. We often live our lives like a piece of driftwood, at the mercy of the winds and currents of life, reacting to whatever is happening instead of proactively accomplishing objectives.
Much of the distress we experience in life comes not just from becoming overwhelmed with time pressure and unreasonable expectations; but feeling we have little control over anything, especially our time.
I want to do it all! I want to travel, sing and dance, write and give workshops, teach, have time for friends, read a book every day, entertain, have long conversations with good friends, etc, etc, etc.
However, I soon find myself at odds with time. There are only so many hours in a day after all and unless I can somehow come to terms with what I am able to do each day, I will soon become dis-stressed.
Since I had made the decision long ago to avoid harmful stress, the choices I make are important. While I can’t control events, I am the one who chooses to be in charge of my life. That includes how I choose to respond to events and circumstances.
So then – how do we choose between all the things we want to do?