We can’t control what happens to us, only how we react to it. How’s that going so far? If you’re like me and and any other living, breathing human, 2020 was a tough year, with mental illness rates rising astronomically.
With a worldwide pandemic still raging coupled with working in a stressful industry (URLA, volume, rate fluctuations, technology demands, rapid change management, etc.), the thought of finding a state of calm seems like a joke, right? But wise ones throughout the centuries have been trying to prepare us for this. In the book ‘When Things Fall Apart’, Pema Chödrön describes this idea like this:
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.
Life on earth has always been chaotic, so rather than continually reacting to whatever the universe throws our way, we can learn to cultivate a state of calm in our day to day so that when it all inevitably turns upside again we don’t get so caught up in the stress of it. We’re the only species that experiences chronic stress and it’s killing us.
“…if you are that zebra running for your life, or that lion sprinting for your meal, your body’s physiological response mechanisms are superbly adapted for dealing with such short-term physical emergencies. For the vast majority of beasts on this planet, stress is about a short-term crisis, after which it’s either over with or you’re over with. When we sit around and worry about stressful things, we turn on the same physiological responses—but they are potentially a disaster when provoked chronically. A large body of evidence suggests that stress-related disease emerges, predominantly, out of the fact that we so often activate a physiological system that has evolved for responding to acute physical emergencies, but we turn it on for months on end, worrying about mortgages, relationships, and promotions.” ― Robert M. Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping
Sound familiar? This chronic stress has become so widespread that most of us don’t realize it’s a problem until we receive some stress-related diagnoses, whether in the form of anxiety, depression, insomia, hypertension, etc. And even then, the usual solution is medication, not getting to the root of the problem.
But HOW, you might ask. To me, this is the lesson of life. HOW do we learn to move through it without getting bogged down in our suffering? Well, there’s a fancy term that continues to grow in popularity due to its efficacy at reducing stress: mindfulness.
“In a nutshell, mindfulness is the ability to recognize what is happening in your mind right now—anger, jealousy, sadness, the pain of a stubbed toe, whatever—without getting carried away by it. According to the Buddha, we have three habitual responses to everything we experience. We want it, reject it, or we zone out. Cookies: I want. Mosquitoes: I reject. The safety instructions the flight attendants read aloud on an airplane: I zone out. Mindfulness is a fourth option, a way to view the contents of our mind with nonjudgmental remove.” ― Dan Harris, 10% Happier
We all want to feel happier. We also want to provide for our families and reach our goals. These are not mutually exclusive. We can be happy AND successful (which in Western terms means financially free and advancing in one’s career, but fill in the blank with your own version of success if it differs). I love the above quote from Dan Harris, as well as his podcast and content, because he is the epitome of skeptical and yet he has found himself to be 10% happier after establishing a meditation practice, which many consider to be the foundation of any mindfulness practice. He now shares this message with the world, with the hopes that everyone can learn the same tools that helped him be able to manage his anxiety and panic disorder naturally.
Lender Toolkit is passionate about offering the best digital mortgage solutions to our cherished clients, and we know that in order to do that our team must have a good quality of life. More and more companies are realizing this. We’ve just rolled out a new weekly guided meditation offering for them with the hopes that we can interrupt the chronic stress cycle that most Americans are caught in. Life is too short to be constantly running from the figurative lion on your tail.
What are you doing for yourself or within your company to address the chronic stress in America and your life? Comment below, we’d love to hear!