I was grumbling about the traffic around the mall. Holiday shoppers adding to the congestion. I let it get to me.
Then I heard about the mass shooting and the traffic didn’t matter much at all.
Big, heart-breaking stuff happens in this world. Big heart-opening stuff happens too. But so often we are too caught up in the traffic jams and the dirty house and the parking situation at work that we miss the heart opening stuff altogether. And we need it. We need to take that good stuff in to build resilience for the bad.
Everyday stress is the number one threat to our mortality, according to research. It isn’t gun control, it isn’t the loss of a loved one or divorce or job loss, though those things are certainly stressful.
It’s the daily grind that gets us down.
Stories of Stress
We create stories around our experience that adds to the drama. The guy who cuts us off on the freeway, becomes the jerk out to get us. The joy of the holiday season become lost in all the commercialization. The generosity of a billionaire becomes an example of a self-absorbed narcissist.
Of course you don’t have to do it like this. You are in charge of your thoughts. You can pick which story to tell.
You don’t have to buy into the commercialization of Christmas. Instead focus on family, or the pretty decorations or the short days that prompt you to cuddle up at home, or special traditions that you enjoy. These things can also be true.
You can send compassion to the jerk on the freeway, because obviously he’s having a hard day.
And the billionaire, can just be a guy giving money away.
Stories Change Our Experience
Our experiences change by the story we tell, by the way we look at the world. There is plenty of hard stuff here, for sure. But most of our stress comes from the tale we tell around the everyday happenings.
You can consider all the plot lines, identify the antagonists, even have alternative endings. Take a look at the story from every side, and in the end you’ll feel better and be healthier if you pick the one with the happier ending. Because that can also be true.