i am currently reading the happiness project by gretchen rubin. in a nutshell - gretchen lives a nice life yet feels that she should feel happier based on all her blessings in life and decides to devote a year to becoming happier. every month she picks an area to focus on and within that area she comes up with 3 or 4 resolutions she tries to follow that month. the book itself is happy and easy to read and i've been enjoying reading her ideas and how they are working out for her. i'm thinking that after i finish reading the book i'd like to really sit down and think about what i'd like to change and set up my own resolutions chart to chart my progress. some of her ideas are things i already do - others aren't that important to me - and still others are ones that i really like and am trying to implement right now.
one such idea is identify the problem.
such simple words - common sense to many i am sure.......but until i read them in her book - it had never occured to me to use that as a guiding principle in reducing my stress.
here's what i mean - my youngest is not a strong reader. periodically his class gets assessments. i want to keep those assessments to see his progress. so i empty his folder - pull out the assessment and throw it on the counter until i can actually put it away. well - that paper gets mixed with other papers and a huge pile of crap develops. i go through the pile - pull out the things i can immediately put away and am left with the other stuff i'll get to..........more stuff gets added to the pile and the cycle continues.
when overwhelmed i get stressed...most people do. i don't know what to do - i see crap lying around the house - i have piles of laundry - i have back to back activities forcing me outside the house all day...so just look past the mess and do nothing - which then causes more stress. so when i see his assessements being thrown in the mix it drives me insane and i think again why i haven't just put these papers away!
identify the problem...
one day i found myself stressed over the messy kitchen and cluttered paper and yet another assessment had come home and thinking about gretchen's book i stopped and said "identify the problem". it didn't bother me so much that his papers weren't upstairs - but that they were mixed in with all the other stuff. so i said that's it - and i went upstairs and grabbed an old folder - brought it downstairs and stuck his papers in it. i felt immediately better. my clutter wasn't cleared b/c at that precise moment that wasn't what was making me nuts...it was specifically his papers.
since then i've stopped myself whenever i've gotten stressed and said aloud "identify the problem". i am amazed at how quickly my stress is diffused and how i am able to really look at exactly what is bothering me and not what i think is bothering me. 3 simple words. a phrase i have heard over and over and have no problem telling others - but for whatever reason - when it was presented to me in gretchen's book - it clicked. the simple act of saying those words have made a huge difference in how i handle stressful times.
there are other ideas from her book i'd like to implement when i really sit down to do my own happiness project. if they end up being as helpful as that simple principle - then i have no doubt that i will have some pretty useful tools to implement and share with others.