Here’s a pop quiz:
IF X = Frustration, Y = Happiness, A & B = things you see, C & D = things you hear, THEN:
a) X = (20%A + 40%B – 75%C) / 43 and Y = 27 (50%A – 33%C + 17%D)
b) Y = X * D / A
c) X = A + B/4.3 – 5.6*D
d) None of the Above
(hint: The answer is ‘d’)
People are complicated, most of the time it’s tough enough figuring out what makes us happy or not happy, let alone our spouses, family or friends. We are all constantly bombarded with information and it’s hard to figure out exactly what makes us happy and what stresses us out. The last straw, the event that triggers a conscious emotional response, is rarely the root of the problem.
We need time to sort it out, time to figure out what’s causing us to act the way we do. We need quiet time to figure out what causes us to behave well and what causes us to behave poorly.
Meditation works but meditation isn’t what you think.
Meditation doesn’t have to be some mystical feat, it doesn’t have to be sitting in a lotus position chanting “om”.
Meditation is simply quiet time to sort things out. It can be done sitting, walking, running, or surfing (my favorite). You can do it alone or talk through things with a friend.
Meditation does three things:
1) Helps your attention span (attention regulation).
2) Helps you figure out what triggers your emotions (body awareness).
3) Helps you control your emotions (emotion regulation – from knowing the triggers).
(Here’s an Article from the Atlantic with a longer discussion)
Control over your emotions is the most important. Chronic stress is bad. Chronic stress prevents adaptation, healing and recovery.
Figuring out what is really triggering the stress response is the first step in reducing stress.
Three tips to get you started:
1) Start small. Start with 5 – 10 minutes a day. Try and fold it into something you already do every day (walking from the parking lot, exercise, etc.)
2) Start with whatever’s on your mind. You can work on “just being” later. Start with whatever issues you can’t stop thinking about.
3) Pull the string. Sure you remember the last straw, the thing that pushed you over the edge. What happened before that? What were the assumptions you made?
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