After work one night earlier this week, I was waiting in the incredibly long lines of my local Walmart. It was a little after midnight, and usually I become rather impatient, but that night I just accepted the situation. I read a magazine about mental health and observed the people around me having conversations among themselves.
I took the time to reflect on myself. Recently, I have been attempting to be more positive. I may not always be bubbly or in a good mood, but I have been trying to take control of my thoughts and actions. Instead of becoming upset or immediately thinking negatively, I have been trying to train my brain to have a positive outlook.
For example, working in the service industry, I spend my day tending to people’s needs. Everyone is different and some people can be rather difficult. A lot of the time, I become frustrated and I begin to think nasty thoughts in my head which starts a snowball effect.. Our minds are powerful places. When we have negative thoughts, a black cloud blankets our brain and our entire perspective becomes that of negativity. So, when I catch myself thinking negatively, I try to immediately change my thoughts to positive ones.
Instead of being annoyed that someone has modified their dinner order immensely, I think about how lucky we are to live in a world with so much food variety and deliciousness. When some of my coworkers needed help getting their shifts covered, I worked for them. I implemented the mindset of doing for others what I hope is done for me. When my manager asked me to stay late on a Saturday night, I said yes even though I was exhausted. If I had not stayed, I knew my coworkers would have struggled throughout the shift which would, in turn, cause an outburst of negativity.
So I am standing in line, rather proud of myself for truly trying to control my perspective, when a man gets in line behind me. I am looking at a unicorn chap stick and deciding whether or not to get it for my youngest sister. We begin to make small talk about the long lines and the temptation of the impulse buys. Neither one of us is overly friendly but we are also not forcing our conversation. As the cashier scans my items, we talk about how delicious the cake is that he is purchasing. The cashier tells me my total and as I am getting the cash from my wallet, the man says to just add his two items to my bill because he is going to take care of it. At first I didn’t hear him correctly. He then said, “I’m serious, just put it all together. I’m going to take care of it.”
I felt tears in my eyes. My first thoughts were, “What did I do to deserve this?” But he insisted. I thanked him over and over again, still in disbelief. I walked to my car and called a friend to tell her about the amazing act of kindness I had just received. As he was leaving the parking lot, he drove by and and the words he said will stick with me forever. He simply said, "Remember, good things happen to good people."
Take a deep breath. Not just a surface level breath. Breathe in through your nostrils until the air has not only filled your lungs, but has made your stomach expand, big and round. Seriously, do it. Now do it again. Repeat until you feel yourself a little more at peace. Life is short. And yes, anything can happen to you at any moment, but do not think about that. Think about right now. Focus on the magic that surrounds you.
There are some days when the stress in our lives seems to be suffocating us. It could be stress about anything. Letting bills accumulate because, no matter what, there never seems to be enough money in your bank account. Or the fight you had with your family member. Maybe it is stress from not dealing with the minor toothache that has now manifested into a monstrosity.
Such is life.
So much time is dedicated to worrying. We miss the seasons changing, relationships begin to crumble, and the simple pleasures of life are often overlooked. We bathe in the immediate problems we are facing and forget to take a step back. We forget to remember that life is a precious thing. One day, the problems you are facing will be a faint memory and new problems will be waiting. Finding things to do that bring you peace when you feel the stress begin to build in your body can help ground you and create a sense of freedom.Learning to cope with stress is not only important, it’s life altering.
Take a shower. Exfoliate your skin and deep condition your hair. Go fishing. Spend hours on the water and smell the air around you. Sip a glass of wine or a warm drink and feel your cheeks become rosy. Feel the life inside of you. Remind yourself that you are alive, be thankful. Write a list of what’s causing some of your stress. Then write a plan of attack. Yes, there are times when you are handed situations that you cannot control, but that does not mean you have to succumb to the weight of it all.
It’s just life.
Whether we like it or not, we will continue to face new challenges every day and it is up to you to decide how you plan on handling it. Do you want to spend your days worrying about the what-ifs? Or do you want to take a few minutes or an hour out of every day to center yourself, find some inner peace?
Light a candle and think of all you have to be grateful for. Call your mom and tell her you love her. Listen to your favorite song and scream the lyrics. In those moments, when you forget about all that has been causing you so much stress and anxiety, you will feel free. Chase that feeling as often as you can.
And remember, just breathe.
Laura is passionate about the power of words and she hopes to share her advice and experiences in an artistic and interesting way.