Many of us are feeling like a hamster on a wheel spinning round and round trying to find balance, peace and that elusive happiness. We read articles, educate ourselves, seek answers in diet, exercise, meditation, friendships, love and gratitude. Sometimes we think we have it figured out. Sometimes not. At all.
In our quest, there are many things that will change, cycle out, cycle in and develop. But for sure, there are three static things that are inhibiting our peace and happiness.
1- We are too connected. In a recent study, it is proven that when we have unanswered emails, or even social media notifications, it can make it more difficult to focus on a task or to focus period. Social media especially is a time sucker and can literally change your emotions in a nano second (did you just read on Facebook about the lady who drove her car over a bridge on purpose, and her kids were in the car with her…now how do you feel?). These emotions that are swirling inside us because of the amount of emails and social media time, can steal joy, peace and happiness. We have to unplug.
What to do: set aside time each day (at least an hour) to completely unplug. During this time read, listen to music or play with your kids.
Put curfews on your phone: no email or social media after 6pm. Set a time to check your social media/emails such as: 9am, 1pm and 5pm and nothing in between (unless you are at your office and then only during work hours, and still limit that social media).
And do NOT browse through social media/email while you are socializing with PEOPLE. Smile. Talk. Look at their face, not at your phone.
2- Too much busy work. We live in a culture where if you are not busy, there is something wrong with you. Truth be told- we are killing ourselves with this culture. Although obesity is attributed to our western diet of processed foods and lot’s of sugar (and this is the main problem), another reason is our high stress levels and lack of sleep. My father in law has always owned a business. He told me he used to get up at 2/3am to get to work, and then would get home around 6pm, eat and go to bed to start over. His words were, “I had to provide for my family, so this is what needed to be done”. I challenge this though, as his next statement was, “Although I wish I would have spent more time with the family though, maybe then I wouldn’t have gotten a divorce”. I am not so naive to not know there are tough jobs that are being done out of necessity. And at times when two jobs are needed even. But, there are always choices. Working those extra hours once in a while is admired; working those extra hours on a regular basis is a recipe for disaster (for you and your family). **This is in no way saying that one should not work hard- we should always give our best when tasked with a job, but we should work just as hard on taking care of ourselves and our family- if not more so**
What to do: limit work time to what is necessary (better yet, do a job you LOVE so it also doesn’t feel like work). This may require some life changes (where you live, what you own, how you spend). Trust me- they will be worth it despite the short-term struggle.
Don’t over commit. I am a victim of this; I say yes to too many things. Learn when to say no (a hint: say no if it takes time away from yourself or your family that you don’t have to spare).
Schedule free time for yourself. Hold it as the most important commitment you have. Your life and your health depends on it.
3- Lack of purpose. Do you know that the rate of depression sky rockets after retirement age? Wouldn’t it seem like it would be the opposite? Working hard is fine (in moderation- see above), but without goals or something to work towards, we feel as if we are floundering and it can cause anxiety, depression and/or terrible frustration.
What to do: set short and long-term personal and work goals. Even if you are retired, you can set goals that you want to accomplish. Have an accountability partner to work with these on. I have a friend that we challenge each other every week on where we are at in our goals. A life without goals or dreams can feel like an empty life.
Can you look at these three points and determine where you may need to make changes? By evaluating these areas in your life and identifying ways to adjust, you can take steps to a more peaceful joy filled life.