Thursday, June 27, 2019

How To Embrace Chaos For A Happier Life

We live in chaotic times. Our days and weeks are taken up by fast paced modern living, mad rushing to get a lot done each day, crazy amounts of information and messages vying for our attention, and more and more stuff going on around the world. Plus, uncertainty about so many aspects of life; who knows what next week will be like? Life is chaotic, inherently so. The very nature of life is quite chaotic and we often use a lot of energy attempting to create some order of it.

The pain and positivity of Chaos:
Chaos is new, unexpected and sometimes even undesired and distressing. It can often have a darkness to it. But embracing chaos as a positive in our lives is a wonderful way to deal with the unknowns and the possibilities of how things might be; it’s where and how we learn, explore and find meaning. When we attempt to tame the innate chaos in life and control all that cannot be controlled, it can cause us to feel depressed, anxious or sad.

Most of us experience times when the chaos feels like it is too much for us – when we feel overwhelmed and swamped, where life is out of control and where we fantasize of a simpler way of being, that takes less out of us.

The impossible promise:
What’s wrong with chaos anyway? Chaos is one of nature’s greatest forces, and it has brought forth much more wonder and joy than we realize and typically tend to imagine. It is probably unrealistic to think or hope to control chaos. Today, let’s focus on why we should and how we can embrace chaos. How we should let it wash over us from time to time, and focus more on the things we can control.

By accepting and embracing chaos as our friend or guide, we manage to organize a work life that is conducive to both performance and happiness.

Most of the time we’re multitasking. That’s just what it takes to live modern lives like ours. But that doesn’t mean it is ultimate chaos, it is just how our minds work. That is how we work. We do multitask, but when we focus on one specific task, it is with the greatest of our attention. We get in the zone. By accepting and embracing chaos as our friend or guide, we can manage to organize our life that is conducive to both performance and happiness.

How to Embrace Chaos in Life? 
Here are some ways…. Only Attempt to Control “the Controllable”
DO not try to control the uncontrollable! We can plan for the future, but most of the variables that can change our plans in the future are unpredictable, so focus instead on what you can control.  Most of us want to feel like we are in control of things, but when it comes to people and situations beyond our control we have to let go.  Stuff happens.

Most of the thoughts stored in our brain are not totally true, outright false or not applicable. If you have set up, ahead of time, criteria to judge a thought, you have the ability to discern, distinguish and judge a thought. Once you realize that imagined fears are baseless (which is the 1st test), then you understand there is no immediate need for action on your part, and you can choose to consider the thought further and select it or deselect it.

Counter Negative Thoughts:
Since many of the thoughts stored in our brain are skewed, we need to create a health-producing filter to accept or reject each thought. If you have already prejudged the criteria for assessing a thought, by expecting a positive outcome, you then have the ability to discern, distinguish and judge a thought from a perspective of hope.
Find out whether it is your own thought, or someone else’s. Also, decide whether it is for your own good to follow. This will lead to more control over your thinking process. 

Be Present:
Be present. Be mindful. See the flowers in your neighbor’s garden, hear the birds in the early morning, feel the warmth of the sun on you while you are driving. Stop being in another place in your mind all the time. Stop cluttering your brain with what happened yesterday and the discussion you are going to have with your partner because of his/her misbehavior, and what you are going to cook for supper.
Be present – really BE where you are, stop being somewhere else in your mind.

So often we can’t name the emotion we are feeling. We just know that we are not comfortable with what we feel. And we dwell in that feeling of discomfort – whether it is sadness, jealousy, anger, fear. It is just easier to really settle into the comfort of your discontent.

Attempt to be your own observer and explore your emotions. What emotion am I feeling? What triggered this emotion? Why?

Thinking about your thinking. How can I change this? What can I do differently next time? How can I handle this situation NOW? Responsibility really means “the ability to respond”, to make an active choice. You can make an active choice in terms of how you interpret things and how you act on them.  Research on the brain also reveals a direct link between patience and a vivid imagination. When we can counter an initial impulse, it leads to better decision making at a later time.

David Rock in his book, “Your Brain at Work” refers to this process as “reappraisal”. How to interpret what things mean to you differently. If you can shift your interpretation, your emotional response will shift too.

Do this 3-step exercise:
Step 1: Awareness. Think of an example last week you responded in a “less favorable” way; in other words, you had a strong emotional reaction to this situation. For example, when you were stuck in traffic for hours, someone said something very negative about you, or perhaps a business meeting that was canceled on short notice. Think of such an example now.

Step 2: Label it; give this emotion a name.

Step 3: See if there is maybe another way of thinking about what happened to you. Try to reinterpret, normalize, reorder, or to reposition.
Next time you become aware of the fact that you are experiencing discomfort in terms of your emotions, apply these 3 steps. It will create a greater awareness of your emotions and your reactions.

Be brave enough to explore alternative ways of thinking and be bold enough to embrace whatever insights come your way.

“In the space between chaos and shape, there was another chance.” – Jeanette Winterson.

When there is a sense of chaos, raise your arms in the air and embrace it, let it happen, resistance is futile. Embrace the chaos.

No comments:

Post a Comment