This time of year is often described as stressful. Ask a friend or neighbor how she’s doing during the month of December, and her response is likely to include the word “busy.” But the holidays are only as stressful and busy as we make them. Today, in case you feel you need it, I’d like to give you permission to relax. Read more
“One of the advantages of being born in an affluent society is that if one has any intelligence at all, one will realize that having more and more won’t solve the problem, and happiness does not lie in possessions, or even relationships: The answer lies within ourselves. If we can’t find peace and happiness there, it’s not going to come from the outside.”
The last month and a half has been challenging for me. I traveled to Greece for two weeks, which disrupted my usual routines, though I still managed to do some meditating and blogging while I was there. Then my dad was hospitalized and died, and for a while it seemed nearly impossible to focus on anything else. I still think about my dad constantly, and my mom and I are doing our best to figure out this new normal. To top it off, I am pregnant with my first child, making me both excited and exhausted. Simple tasks like eating and exercising have become much more difficult than they once were.
As my mom will tell you, I’ve never very been good at relaxing. Since about sixth grade, I’ve been involved in all sorts of things. As an adult, you will rarely find me sitting down when I’m at home. I tend to spend my evenings and weekends working out, doing yard work, doing laundry or other chores around the house, attending a meeting or event, visiting friends, or working on some kind of project. I pretty much never sit in front of a television, and my relaxation time is usually scheduled (e.g., yoga class, meditation group, occasional massage or mani/pedi).
We humans like to place people into buckets: good and bad, left and right, us and them. This seems to be an age-old tendency, and it isn’t all that surprising that the rise of social media and the proliferation of news and opinion platforms have allowed our divisions to become more entrenched and more apparent. We can choose to read and listen to only those sources that affirm what we already feel and believe, and we can respond to those who disagree while protected by a screen that keeps us from seeing and experiencing their humanity, their emotional reactions. Our quickly typed words can be amplified through shares and retweets, carried far beyond the small circles that might once have heard them.
Many, many people have written about the heightened state of polarization in which we live these days, lamenting how destructive it is and postulating about what led to this environment. It is distressing and disheartening. But it doesn’t have to be this way.