I have the good fortune to live in a beautiful area of California on a little plot of land that I can call my own. I have two horses and a dog that I love with all of my heart. I have a John Deere tractor and Gator that play a big part in helping me to maintain my property, and almost every weekend you can find me at my barn cleaning up, tending to the garden, pulling weeds, mowing the riverbed and whatever else it takes to keep things in good order. My best thoughts come to me when I am out in nature and doing my chores. This past weekend as I was mulching around my trees and I thought about what creates the struggle in our life. Maybe it is because Mercury has been in retrograde because I have observed people’s actions and words to be of resistance and strife lately. Regardless of the reason for these times of tussles, the following suggestions to eliminate the struggle is what came to me as I was working at the barn:
- Stay In Your Lane. This is a simple concept especially if you are someone who spends time driving around on the planet. There are a set of rules and courtesies that we learn about driving that help to limit the number of accidents and potential people clashing incidents as we are traveling to and from the places we go. The main useful driving directive is for each driver to stay in their lane and to leave ample room in front and behind them to avoid crashing into other drivers. I say that the same tenet is practical in living our everyday lives. It is as simple as staying in your lane. Don’t cross over lines with others that you know will create conflict. Give people the room and the breathing space that they need to feel worthy and respected. And, if you are going to “change lanes”, i.e. do or say something that you know will affect another person, use the appropriate signal so the other person is clear about your words and actions. It really is as simple as staying in your lane. Be a good driver in life.
- Don’t Put Your Boat In The River Headed Upstream. Most of the time, life is only as difficult as we decide to make it. Who do you know that would take their raft to the river’s edge, put it in the water, head it upstream, and get in and start paddling away? That makes no sense, but so many times in life we metaphorically do this. Look for the downstream opportunities. This means whatever you encounter in life, determine the most conflict and struggle-free way to handle the situation. This is true when it comes to the words you use to define your life. If you are someone who says, “everything is so hard for me, life is such a struggle, there is never enough, or nothing ever works out for me”, then guess what? That is exactly what your will experience in your life. Instead say, “everything always works out for me, I love a good challenge, there is plenty to go around” and see what changes start to happen in your life.
- Stop Resisting What You Don’t Want. Resistance gets you nothing but push back. Have you ever noticed that when you are experiencing irritation or discontentment in your life, there is certainly something that you are resisting? And, the more you resist something, the more it continues to show up because the resistance has energy and like energies are attracted to one another. There really is something to letting go. And, I will remind you that all great martial artists use their opponent’s weight and force against them. They don’t resist their opponent but instead side-step them and use their momentum to overcome them.
- Get Grateful. I often hear people talk about how stressed out they are or how hectic and nerve racking their life is. I have said it before and I will keep saying it, stress is a choice. You have to remember that your life is the way it is because of the choices you have made whether it be who you married, where you went to school, whether to have children or not, where you decide to live, what you do for your job or vocation, who your friends are, what you eat and drink, and the list goes on. All of these choices result in consequences that can bring great joy to your life or great stress, you decide. However, a quick cure to stress is gratitude. Find as many things as you can to be grateful for in your life and stay focused on being appreciative because the feeling of stress and gratitude cannot co-exist. Gratitude wins every single time.
- Stop Being Busy, Being Busy. Some people love to tell you how busy they are as if it is some kind of praiseworthy badge of honor. The way I see it is the primary reason people feel that they are so busy is because they do not determine the priorities in their life and stay focused on them. Here’s the bottom line: you cannot be in two places at one time, you cannot do two things at the same time and give 100% to either activity, NO is a complete sentence, lack of priorities creates overwhelm and chaos. Take time each morning to list the activities of your day in order of priority. What are “truly” the most important tasks that need to get accomplished in your day? I also suggest that you put your least favorite task at the top of the list and end with the activity or chore that you will most enjoy. Eliminate everything from your list that does not need your time and attention. This routine will keep you focused on inspired actions versus spinning in circles, accomplishing nothing and feeling overwhelmed. How you spend your time is your choice. Make good decisions for yourself.
- Stop Comparing. If you want someone to compare you to, compare yourself to your best self. This keeps the focus on what is most important, you. There is absolutely NO value in comparing yourself to others. And by the way, things are rarely as they appear. What looks like a beautiful home from the outside can be messy and lacking love on the inside. What looks like an ideal marriage on the outside, can be two people merely tolerating one another. What looks like an amazing vacation on the outside, can be added expense on an already maxed out credit card. Instead of getting caught up in some useless game of comparing yourself to others, imagine and define your ‘best self’ and then spend time becoming that. I can assure you that you will feel a lot better about yourself and your life.
- Do A Technology Detox. Is it really necessary to be on your cell phone during a family meal? Will your world fall apart if you listen to the sounds of nature on a thirty-minute walk instead of talking you your phone? Is it worth risking your life or someone else’s because you are texting and driving? Is handing your toddler your phone or and iPad really the best way to entertain them or keep them from being fussy? I think we can all do better when it comes to technology. Unless you are an emergency room doctor, expecting a child any minute, or in the middle of a dangerous situation, put your phone down, take off your smart watch, turn off your computer and iPad. Take a break from technology and don’t let it become an addiction.
- Stop The Mindless Consuming. Start to declutter instead. We live in a world that teaches us that acquiring and holding on to people, places, circumstances, and things will provide us with happiness. And then we find ourselves in a state of worry and stress over the fact that these things will be lost or taken from us. We become more focused on the value of our things than the value of getting to know who we are and embracing our authenticity. I have dedicated an entire module in my live and online class, Lines In The Sand to this very topic. You can learn more here.
- Think For Yourself. The herd mentality rarely works out well. Did you know that the way Native American Indians used to hunt and kill plains bison in mass quantities was to herd them off a steep cliff? Have the courage to walk your own path. It can be easy to get caught up in the herd mentality if we are not careful. For most of our lives, we have been socially conditioned to accept the beliefs and notions of others to be factual. Instead, live from your authenticity, stay true to yourself and align your actions and priorities with your values.
- Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy. Would you tolerate a spouse, good friend or work associate speaking to you the same way you talk to yourself? I doubt it. Then why is it acceptable to you to treat yourself so poorly? Would you talk to your best friend or child the same way you talk to yourself? Highly unlikely. This is a behavior that does NOT serve you and you must stop being your own worst enemy. Rather than saying things to yourself like, ” I totally suck at handling my finances”, instead of saying “I am willing and able to master my financial life.” As an alternative to saying, “I always feel so overwhelmed” start stating, “I am excited to start prioritizing what’s most important in my life.” Your words are powerful. Use them wisely.
I invite you to stop the struggle. Life really is only as difficult as you make it. Everyday imagine going to the river’s edge, facing your boat downstream, putting it in the water, jumping in and enjoying the struggle free ride!