Sunday, February 26, 2012

Relatively Thinking

Every now and then I get a slew of reminders about some form or other of balance in life…sometimes there are things of a personal nature like my relationship with the people in my life; other times it might be to do with business or social responsibility or what I ‘need’…I don’t think my experience is much different from anyone else’s, I think we all get these ‘life lessons’, but I do think some people are more open to them than others, and I find that the more open I become to them, the better I am able to make some sense of the myriad of things in life that at first glance seem inexplicably in conflict with themselves…and when this works best, I think, you start to understand that the immensity of the ‘problem’ regardless of how seemingly dire, is all relative to how you think.

I have a decent state of health for a late 40’s woman, have discovered I can run…ok, jog…something I have never felt able to do before now, I live in ‘paradise’, Saint Lucia, West Indies, I can pretty much pay my bills and afford a decent lifestyle while I work for myself, from home; even now, I gaze out at the tropical flowers and enjoy the sound of the kite-flying season winds as they rustle through mango leaves and wild tamarind seedpods….aaahhhh Paradise… Today, as in most Sundays I’ll wind down my week in paradise with a gathering of friends on a beautiful beach with some rum n coconut water, cool wine and even a flask of good old English tea. 

I am relatively lucky. But…

I am sometimes relatively stressed considering all this paradise living…

What am I missing? I am not faced with war, not faced with a mean old boss, not faced with snowdrifts taller than me even in high heels…there are countless writings and thoughts on being happy…I’ve read a few and a lot of it makes a reasonable amount of sense…and I keep thinking that sometimes the things we let ourselves be stressed over are a kind of call for attention…we love being happy and capable but we also want people to recognize that we’re not super-humans, we need looking after too.

Lol…either it’s that or it’s a kind of ‘poor me’ cry-cry…we need people to recognize how ‘hard’ we work, how ‘much we manage to do’ ‘in the circumstances’ … I like the first explanation more :-)

Now in all fairness to me and my fellow ‘Paradise’ dwellers…this wonderful island life can be very genuinely stressful – high costs, low wages, low level of work ethics, lack of professional skilled workers, graft/bobol, tiny consumer base, can’t get the thing you most need when you need it cos “it selling out too fast” from the shop, so 8 months out of the year its not on the shelf…or its ‘low season’ – no tourists n snowbirds so guess what Paradise Ppl…supermarket shelves are bare of all but the basics…don’t even get to the cultural life (or lack thereof) and for the single ladies…the prospects (or lack thereof…)…but…that aside…

I think most of what stresses us all is what we allow to stress us…coming right back to the ‘choosing to be happy’ concept...whether our circumstances are as benign as mine really are, or as dire as described in a post my sister Liz put on FB today by a Doctor speaking about end-of-life treatment decisions I think the opinion is interesting and like some commenters, I’d like to reference some statistics…even though statistics are relatively malleable even at their best :-) But it struck me that it really is sad that many, many a person ends their life in pain and struggle while in many cases eating up any savings they may have had and even creating debt for their survivors…instead of choosing a relatively short time perhaps to live, but to live it to its fullest with relative happiness….

How about self-image – yesterday at our craft market, a lady bought one of my necklaces…she almost didn’t because in her mind, in her eye, her collar bones are protruding and not attractive and so she doesn’t like to call attention to them… I know we all have our ‘self-conscious spot’…well, ok maybe some people don’t but I certainly do, and how people react to them makes all the difference…I’m not a pushy salesperson, I hate the idea of selling someone into a purchase they don’t really want, so I was fine with the idea that she put it back if she wasn’t happy with how it looked, how she felt. And I let her know…I said, “Well, you go with what you’re comfortable with” and added, truthfully, “I didn’t notice your collarbones until you mentioned them to me, but what matters is what you’re comfortable with”. She smiled and said, “Oh, I do like it, I’m going to have it”.  This was a perfectly good-looking lady…crippled in part, why? Because at some point, someone probably told her, that her collarbones were ugly…really…

Is her fear of how her collarbones look unreal? Overstated? Especially for us women, we tend to judge ourselves against such an unrealistic yardstick…and are judged by others by that same yardstick…often of images that have been retouched to an unreal perfection…we make ourselves relatively unhappy when in reality, we are just fine…but does that make our unhappiness unreal, unwarranted, relatively shallow? Not for millions, it’s a ‘real’ unhappiness … just emanating from real shallow motives.

You don’t have to look far for stories of rich people living miserable lives – yet we all (nearly all) hanker after money and more money…life seems at times to be all about chasing after money and possessions…relatively speaking I’d rather possess my sanity and peace of mind than a fat bank account if it meant I’d get caught up in the kind of miseries, bitching and paranoia I see some people living….but…

On the flip side, while I haven’t experienced the problem of having too much money to be comfortable with, I have experienced the problem of having too little…that’s a real bitch of a stress. Real stress when you can’t pay bills, not sure what you’ll eat if somebody don’t pay you soon…don’t go to this or that function because you don’t have anything to wear…but why is it such a stress? Because people judge you as being a ‘bad’’lazy’’criminal’ person because you can’t do certain things…relatively speaking I don’t think I’m any of those things….but I was poor for a while and the stress was mostly from the perception people had of why it was so, not from the hard work put into trying to make it not so…

Relatively, stress is all in our minds – and our minds are such powerful things – we can convince ourselves of all sorts of things – that we are happy, that we are sad, that if we don’t have this or that, we can’t do x,y or z…

How people react to us is most influenced by how we think, and so act, at the time; I’d be a super-rich paradise dweller if I had a dollar for every time I looked in hindsight and saw how much better a situation could have been had I thought about it differently at the time…I have become much richer in peace of mind as I learn to think, and so feel differently about every challenge I am faced with…and maybe that’s also part of why I am better off dollar-wise also.

And ‘stress’ itself is a relative thing - I find that ‘stress’ if used properly, can be about focusing and making sure bases are covered, things run smoothly so there is no real stress when it comes down to the wire…’stress’ that you feel when faced with challenge is a good thing in moderation – it causes us to care about doing things well…it’s only when we let it become a relatively overpowering storm that it becomes a negative in our lives, causes us to degenerate into ‘poor me’ ‘lawd ah cyan tek it no more!’ state of mind.

Whoh. Nuff written! … I do ‘stress’ a bit about my blog posts…but you know it’s all just thoughts that I think in print…even so, I do always hope that they are reasonably interesting strings of thoughts…I used to ‘worry’ (not lose sleep over) whether people would read…but I stopped that when I realized I just like writing them and that in some cases, yes, wonderfully, people liked reading them – or found them useful like the Hurricane Tomas period…and now, well, I just put them ‘out there’, sorting out the thoughts in my head, pretty un-stressed…but always looking for a conversation so…ALWAYS most chuffed when anyone shares their opinion whether in agreement or not… over to you…
can you see the smile?



 xoxo
Fifi