Feeling overwhelmed today? As a wellness teacher, I considered writing about ways of destressing during this extreme weather and ongoing pandemic. But really, do any of you want a list of things to do? If your life is anything like mine, you’re oversaturated with things to do right now, and the last thing you want is another to-do list.
I propose we forget about the to-do list today and focus instead on how we are, our state of being. I know, that sounds philosophical. Bear with me. Try this: Picture two people, one a self-absorbed villain and the other a kind-hearted neighbor. Your car breaks down and they both (independently) approach you and offer assistance. They are both doing the same thing, but the type of person they are will definitely affect how you respond.
Even if you don’t know the self-absorbed villain’s reputation, you will probably sense danger or ulterior motives. The kind-hearted neighbor, even if you’ve never met them before, will come off differently. This is the difference in their state of being. One is essentially out for themselves and the other is truly offering help. You can literally feel the difference while you interact with them.
Here’s the wild part. It feels different to you, as the stressed person with the smoking car engine, but what about them? Studies show we are happier when we interact in kind ways. Healthy adults feel better when they are open-minded and open-hearted about the world around them. It feels better to connect with others than to hide out and avoid people. Even introverts who like hiding out need connection. (I’m calling myself out there, not you.)
You don’t have to do anything, but be yourself. No, not the angry overwhelmed self. That’s not really who you are at your core. You may have felt that way for years, but its still not really you. All babies cry, but they’re not born mean, angry and vindictive. Neither were you.
If this sounds untrue, maybe try an experiment: Try acting as if you are open and curious about the world, about the people around you. You don’t have to do anything extra, I promise. Just try looking at stuff around you in a new way. Scared about the country’s political divide or the pandemic? Same here. But try this. Do whatever you have to do today (nothing extra, this isn’t about doing more) but try doing it with curiosity, with an openness. Chances are you will feel better, and those around you will too. Together, we can get through this.
Branwen OShea has collected unusual stories and animal friends since childhood, when wild creatures waited on her porch for help. She helped found a cat rescue and has shared her home with an opossum, skunks, raccoons, and a crow. Her interest in communicating with animals was matched by a keen urge to help people connect with themselves and the natural world through stories.
Visit her website: branwenoshea.com