How does mushroom picking and life relate?
I used to work in Search and Rescue when I was younger. We would sometimes be called out for a mushroom picker that was hunting in the woods and hadn’t returned. The northwest woods are expansive and rugged, so searching them is not always an easy task. The mushroom picker is one of the harder people to find. Unlike other lost individuals, the mushroom picker makes an erratic path. “There’s one. Oh look, over there is another one.” They can travel deep into the forest this way. The next thing they know, they are lost and don’t know which way their vehicle lies.
This way of searching for mushrooms is not that different from individuals who are always chasing the next great idea. If I am not watchful, I too can fall victim to this thinking. If you are working to increase your income and chasing the next new thing, good ideas can get left behind.
What if we had a world with no distress? What do you think that would look like? What if you at least limited your own distress?
We need some stress for motivation. There is eustress which psychologists have discovered to be motivating. Clinical psychiatrist Dr. Michael Genovese says we rarely think of stress as a positive thing, but eustress is just that — positive stress. “Exciting or stressful events cause a chemical response in the body,” he explained.
It is the stress associated with preparing for a vacation, upcoming promotion or any endeavor that challenges us but does not use all our resources. It impacts us physically, emotionally and psychologically.
In contrast, distress is a negative form of stress. It occurs when an event causes us to feel anxiety, sorrow or pain. It is usually extreme but not long lasting. This may not be the case if you have a straight anxiety disorder.
I was putting away suitcases from holiday and work travel. As I emptied out the little odds and ends it got me to thinking about emotional baggage. According to the urban dictionary the word baggage now has additional meaning beyond a container used to travel. It states that painful memories, mistrust and hurt carried around from past sexual or emotional rejection.
All of us have baggage. But for a visual example, some of us have little paper bags and others are running around trying to pull cargo containers with them. What is your bag? Is it a backpack, a suitcase or more? A fun way to find this is to sit down with colored pencils and draw a picture of yourself chained to a container big enough to hold all your rejections, hurts and even false beliefs getting in the way of your happiness.
We need to clean out our container. If you are chained to it and it is bigger than a backpack you are not going to have a very easy time moving forward in life. It anchors you and demands your attention. Your experiences have to filter through all that. If your container is large, the reality comes out distorted.
It is the time of year where many make New Year’s resolutions. There is nothing wrong with setting a resolution. It gives you a goal to achieve. If we compare this to a road trip across the country, we have a set destination we wish to arrive at. Without a plan to get there or asking for directions one could wander in a whole different destination. You need a road map even if it is on your phone.
When setting resolutions, look at them from these viewpoints. Is it specific so that you know exactly what you want and what it would look like to be there? You also want to look at whether it is reasonable? Is it completely under your control? It is almost impossible to achieve a goal if part of it is not in your control and the uncontrolled part is not headed in the same direction as you are.
This time of year tends to increase feelings of loneliness, depression and stress reactions. With that comes a lot of acting out such as outbursts, short fuse and even withdrawal. These are often talked about throughout the mental health community. I wanted to focus on what to look for around the topic of being held hostage emotionally.
To do that, we first need to define what it means to be an emotional hostage. When individuals use fear, anger or guilt to get what they want they are attempting to take you emotionally hostage. This technique is often used by abusers. It could look as simple as throwing a fit or threatening to go back to drug use if they don’t get their way. Basically, they don’t want to take responsibility for their words or actions and instead attempt to blame others. With addicts new to recovery, it may be an excuse to return to use.
This is the season where there is an increased focus on being thankful. While this is a great reminder to look for the good in life, it is something you really need year around. It isn’t just good for your positive outlook, it impacts many areas in your life.
In an article by Robert Emmons -2010, he shares that keeping a gratitude journal for just three weeks had huge impacts some of which were unexpected. That study included over 1,000 people. Some of what was reported included the following.
People that they had higher levels of positive emotions such as joy and pleasure. They became more aware and alert. There were many reports of more optimism and happiness with life overall.
Self-discipline is a dirty word to many people. It means saying no to extra sleep, that fudge sundae or not being able to say no when we are overloaded. The truth is, self-disciplined individuals have shown to be happier. Why you ask? They feel more in control of their life which leads in an increased send of life satisfaction.
The first step is to take a bit of an inventory and find your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing where you are weak, whether it is gambling, food, or overcompensating, is the only way to begin to overcome it. If it is something with a visual cue then the rule of out of sight, out of mind is a useful tool. We don’t keep junk food in the house because if we begin to crave it, it is often not worth getting in the car and driving to get some.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
― Mother Theresa
I wanted to tell you about the beginning of my week. I am a cancer fighter of four years and on Monday I had an appointment with my oncologist. My doctor informed me that the chemotherapies known to be effective for my situation where no longer doing their job. If we did nothing, I had eighteen months. The recommendation was surgery, but it was unlikely as a tumor was literally on a main blood artery in my liver making it too dangerous to operate.
Now I am usually centered, but this knocked me off my base and inner peace was not present. My doctor had basically told me my life had an end in sight. She made me an appointment with a surgeon to take a closer look at the tumor in question for Tuesday. Despite meditation and other skills I use to maintain a sense of calm, I spent the evening future tripping. I must have traveled through 100 ‘whatifs’. Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night.
Fairness is such an odd expectation. Many of us believe that the world should be a fair place. It should be, but the reality is that it’s not. Some are born into wealth, others poverty. It is just a fact that we are not born into equal opportunities and we don’t have the same strengths and weaknesses. It is not a right or wrong, it is just the way things are. This is our reality.
Despite this, the odds are not stacked against you. It doesn’t matter where you have found yourself, you can change the portions of life that are causing you distress. You are not helpless. You can change these things in most cases.
There are a lot of opportunities in life. But the question is, can we recognize these? We need to take the time and figure out what beliefs are causing us barriers. There are a lot of things we believe that are not necessarily true. The most common ones are the beliefs we have about ourselves. We have prejudices about our own abilities and worth. “I am not good enough.” “I am too stupid.” “I don’t deserve success or happiness.” They come out in our self-talk.
This self-talk creates a prison. The bars are beliefs, our subconscious and desires. They wrap about us just as effectively as actual bars and keep us locked in place. We even tell ourselves untruths rather than take risk. “I have to stay in this job that I hate because I need the money.” Many people will then try to make the best of the situation and live depressed and unhappy. This leaves them largely unprepared for change. The fact is things change. Be ready for it.
Along with opportunities in life, there are traps. Sometimes these traps form slowly. There is a story that is often told about if you put a frog in hot water, it will leap out. If you turn up the heat slowly, it will stay in the water until it’s cooked. Life can be like that. Things build and build, and we put off dealing with things as they occur and then we look around and we are trapped in a circle of problems that finally all connected trapping us and creating despair.
Why do I mention all these things? Change cannot happen if we believe we are helpless and have no way out. Being able to recognize these traps is the first step in finding true inner peace. What are some of these traps? Alcohol, gambling, shopping, taking on debt larger than our income’s ability to pay off and in some cases staying in an unhealthy relationship.
Life is an adventure to be experienced. It is going to happen so do you choose to live it in despair or happiness? The first step as I said is to recognize the traps around us and in front of us. The second is beginning to recognize opportunities for what they are and have the courage to reach out and grab them once we recognize them. This is the start of your journey into happiness and inner peace.
If you need help on this journey, I would love to assist you. I have four openings for this week. I offer a free consultation to see if we would be a good match and to define what you are looking for from a coach. Just reach out and contact me.
Have a great day and keep your eyes open.
Inner Peace and Happiness Coach