The title of my website is largely true. I’m aware of my flaws and foibles and, for the most part, I accept them and I’m happy within myself. However that doesn’t mean I’m not on the lookout for ways to be a happier me.
I’ve discussed in the past how I’ve taken steps to remove ‘negativity’ and recently I’ve extend that to a more introspective practice; I’m trying to making peace with the things I can’t control, I’m learning that letting go isn’t as bad as I think it is.
Bear with me, I realise this will sound very obvious; why would anyone in their ‘right’ mind get uptight, annoyed or upset at things they cannot control? Road rage is an excellent example of this, the energy expended in vitriol and rage is a waste, it won’t change what has happened and, while it may influence the other party involved, you can’t control how.
One bite at a time
It’s easy to say these things, simple words to utter but much much harder to put into practice. However, in accordance with the old adage “when eating an elephant take one bite at a time” I’ve decided to start to tackle this by focusing on small pieces of my life, one part at a time and I’m starting with the one that just so happens to be my biggest source of stress, my job.
For those that don’t know me, I have a bit of a thing for timeliness. Meetings that start late annoy me and it still staggers me that some of the smart people I work with can’t use a calendar to follow a schedule (there is a special place in hell for those that are late for meetings they arranged). What can I do about that? Ultimately, nothing.
Part of me wants to go into a ‘workplace culture’ rant at this point, how ‘broken window’ syndrome has many facets… but I won’t.
In the past, these occurences used to make me angry and annoyed. Part of me took their lateness as a personal insult, part of me didn’t understand how it can be that I can be on time but others can’t. Futile thoughts and I shudder to think how much energy I wasted on such things.
These days, rather than sitting in a meeting room waiting on people to arrive I do one of two things. I either a. suggest to those already in attendance that we start the meeting b. use my notebook and phone to do some quick tasks (reply to an email for example). After 10 minutes I’ll get up and leave, presuming the meeting will be rescheduled (if it happens without me I’ll presume it wasn’t important that I was there anyway, although that’s also presuming that the type of meeting has been clearly communicated in the first place).
Learning to let go
It has thrown up an interesting challenge though. I’m a very driven, goal oriented kinda guy, so being passive about something isn’t in my nature; the two lovely ladies in my life and I have chatted about my need to ‘fix’ things so it’s not just a work thing but it comes into play there more often than not.
But the more I let go of things, the lower my stress levels drop and the better my health seems to be. It’s a balance of course but I think it’s starting to work.
Why am I doing this? Because I’m fed up being stressed and worrying about things that I don’t need to worry about, things that I want to do but which are frequently impacted by external forces beyond my control. I can’t stop some things happening, I can’t control the emotional response of others, and I need to stop worrying about that quite so much (I will retain a level of empathy of course, I’m not a monster!).
Figuring out which things to stop worrying about hasn’t been easy, I’ve chopped and changed on my approach on this; Do I start with the presumption that I shouldn’t worry about anything and that everything that needs done will get done by someone else, and so anything that is truly mine to do will be escalated to me? Or do I start by choosing the things I don’t think I should be worrying about.
I’m taking things on a case by case basis at present but so far by letting go of some of these things, when coupled with the avoidance of “negative energy”, seems to be making a different.