The most important thing

Often in life the thing causing the most anxiety and frustration is not particularly important in the long term. If you were to assess it in the grand scheme of life and death you’ll probably find that it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does.

We tend to get swept up in how other people feel and what other people will think (in general but mainly towards us). We do this because we are eager to please, want to be liked and we convince ourselves that if we just try hard enough we can control what other people think and feel towards us.

But instead of getting swept up in other people, think about yourself. Have you even considered that what you feel and think is important too?

More to the point, maybe how you think and feel is actually the most important thing.

Does more choice make us happier?

A lot of people regularly find themselves overwhelmed.

The possibilites in every area of life are growing more and more each day.

There was a point in time where what you ate was limited to what you could kill and what you could grow at that time of year.

On one hand having more choice gives us the possibility of a richer life with more freedom. And let’s not forget, the increase in choice is the result of innovation that has has resulted in more options than humans once thought was possible.

However, having more choice can also make things harder, having 100 options instead of 10 can end up causing unnecessary stress. This in turn can reduce your overall happiness.

I think the important thing to remember is that no matter how much or how little choice you have, there is always room for innovation.

But we can’t ignore the unhelpful side effects of increased choice and so the important thing to remember is that when you know what you want you’re less likely to be overwhelmed.

Think more, think less

The idea of always saying the first thing that comes to mind is great in some ways. However, it doesn’t work well in every situation.

If you’re someone that excessively analyses everything you say before you say it, practicing to say what comes to mind could be a great way to combat your anxieties.

But if you’re someone that is quick to react and easily enraged, taking time before you speak could save you a lot of hassle.

It’s useful to look at certain aspects of yourself and think about what works well and what doesn’t. The result of that self-reflection might make you realise that you need to think more about what you say or think less.

Waiting for a cue

Sometimes when there’s something you want to say the easiest way to bring it up is to wait for a ‘cue’.

My dictionary defines a cue as ‘An action or event that is a signal for somebody to do something’.

In this case the thing to do is bring up a topic that is difficult to speak about or difficult to for people to listen.

However, the problem with waiting for a cue is that sometimes other people will not consider your approach genuine. But furthermore, it stirs up the question of why you’re unable to bring the topic up on your own.

Why do you have to wait for a cue?

Perhaps because you’re not ready to admit how much the topic matters or maybe you just don’t dont have the confidence yet.

It might not be easy the first time but get used to talking about what matters, you don’t need to wait for a cue.

Short-term pressure

In the right environment pressure can be a really good thing. For example when you’re focused and working hard a couple days (or hours) before a deadline.

But that feeling isn’t something we should rely on to get things done or have in our life on a daily basis.

Although it can be helpful in the short-term, the long-term effects are best avoided.

Things like low energy, insomnia, chest pain, headaches and tense muscles can all come as a result of pressure.

But a little pressure here and there isn’t so bad if you know how to make use of it.

Making difficult decisions

The feeling of regret is always uncomfortable, especially when you think that making a different choice would have led to a better life.

When you reach this conclusion, what do you do next?

Do you take charge, choose the other choice and commit to it in order to reach the outcome you believe is possible.

Or do you get swept up in the feeling of regret and allow your mind to go round and round in circles telling stories about how that single choice you made has ruined your life.

The other option is to stick with the decision you made and make the best of the path you’re on.

It can be difficult to decide but if you put less pressure on the decision you make, things start to feel a whole lot easier.

What also helps is knowing that whatever you pick, things will turn out totally fine.

The right people

A message I’m always keen to get across is that as much as it’s important to open up, what matters even more is that you do it with the right people.

For some that may be obvious but others might find themselves wondering who qualifies as ‘right’.

It really depends on the individual.

However, there are a few questions you can ask yourself like…

How do I want to feel when I open up?

What do I want from the person I open up to?

Then come up with the answers and think about the people you know that align with this.

For example, if what you want from the person you open up to is emotional support and a listening ear, it’s no use opening up to someone who is just going to tell you what to do. Or if you want to feel calm and supported it’s no use talking to someone that leaves you feeling anxious.

Further to that think about your past experiences. Can you think of a time you opened up to someone and regretted it? Can you think of a time you were glad you opened up to someone?

I’ve found that these types of situations, when you know what you want, you’ll know what you’re willing to accept.

Sometimes that means being a little more picky about who you choose to open to.

Rest, reset and refresh

If you go through a period of stress or anxiety, something that can work wonders is taking a break.

It might seem counter productive and you might feel like the better thing to do is pull yourself deeper into what ever has gotten you off balance.

But further exposing yourself to thing that isn’t making you feel good is probably not going to make you feel any better.

What you might need is to take a break.

In this day and age, in our go, go, go society it can be challenging to really take a break from your day to day life.

And so I think it’s important to figure out what helps you rest, reset and refresh your mind.

It could be a walk in nature where you’re away from buildings and cars but surrounded by greenery and wild flowers.

It could be a massage, something that forces you have to stay still and you have to put your phone away.

And once you’re done you’ll know that it worked when you can go back to thing that had you feeling stressed but you now feel calm and at peace.

The worst possible thing

What do you do when the worst possible thing happens.

And by worst possible thing I mean something unanticipated, something that you didn’t plan for that throws you off course.

The common and perhaps most easiest way to react is panic.

Like a sort of ‘Oh my goodness, what I am I gonna do, everything is going wrong, this has gotta be liek the worst possible thing, what am I gonna do now?’

Turns out the popular and easy reaction isn’t particularly helpful.

Instead my experience has taught me that the much more useful thing to is think. Go through the possible scenarios and come up with a solution. Once you’re able to remove some of uncertainty suddenly the worst possible thing isn’t so bad.

Granted you can’t control how things will turn out. However, what you can do is remind yourself that you are capable of overcoming the unexpected.

Self-deception and the power of checking in

Sometimes we trick ourselves into accepting things that we don’t want. We make excuses and convince ourselves that we’re so totally content with our current circumstances.

This happens for a variety of reasons but a major factor is our core beliefs. If you don’t think there is something better out there for you then will always settle even if that means being perpetually unhappy.

The wake up call that you’re not as happy as you think will come when you least expect it. Perhaps you will encounter someone or something that represents what you really want. Then suddenly you find yourself wondering how you could have ever thought that you were happy with what you had accepted.

It’s like clearing the colour from your rose tinted classes and finally seeing things as they are.

A great way to stop yourself accepting less is to check in with yourself regularly. When you’re not where you should be you can end up getting so used to the anxiety that you don’t even realise that it’ there until you leave

Make a note of what you want in different areas of your life and think about how it would feel.

Lets say you moved into a tiny apartment in a neighbourhood you don’t like but you tell yourself you’re happy because you’re saving money and you don’t even spend much time at home anyway. That’s you convincing yourself that you’re okay with not feeling comfortable in your local area and that you don’t want to spend time at home.

But if the notes you make on what you want from your home and how you want to feel don’t align with your reality then you might want to make some changes. That might mean paying a little more to be in an area, in a bigger apartment or both.

That’s the power of checking in, it allows you to identify whether the life you’re creating is the life you actually want.