Whether you’re a worrywart, a perfectionist, an overachiever, or a workaholic, you’ve probably envied people who seem to float through life gracefully, never concerned (like you are) about what might happen if they don’t do this or don’t do that. Perhaps they’re not the most motivated or accomplished people you’ve met, but they always seem content. If you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum–always doing, never satisfied–here’s how to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride that is your life.
- Do one thing at a time. The world’s greatest achievements were made by people who gave the task in front of them their undivided attention. Tackling multiple activities at once might feel efficient, but is it really productive? Is giving each task 30% of your attention for three hours as effective as giving each task 100% of your attention for one hour each? If something doesn’t deserve your undivided attention, maybe it’s not worth doing at all.
- Slow down. Why the rush? If what you’re doing is important enough to warrant your time, you might as well enjoy it. Cleaning the house for an hour with your favourite music playing and your bottom shaking is better than cleaning the house in half that time but in a frantic state of mind. Plus, if you’re having fun with your chores, maybe other people will be tempted to join. Don’t just “get it over with”–find a way to make every activity something that you look forward to doing.
- Stop being a perfectionist. High standards have their place–when performing surgery, for example, or designing a building–but when applied to other areas of your life (your appearance, your home’s appearance, your hobbies, your handwriting, whatever) you’re practically inviting anxiety into your life. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any standards at all; it’s when you start stressing out about the details that you need to ask yourself: “Will doing this right now make me truly happy? Will it make me a better person? Will it make the world a better place?” Usually, the answer is no. Don’t allow perfectionism to become the enemy of your potential.
- Step aside. When you close your eyes and imagine your role in the world, do you see yourself as Atlas, the mythological Titan, holding the weight of the world on your shoulders? Do you feel like you want to relax, but worry that if you do, everything will fall apart? If so, you need to delegate some responsibility. You might think other people won’t do as good a job, but that’s the thing: they’ll never do it just like you do. So give them responsibility, give them advice, and pass the reins. Don’t be surprised if they make mistakes; just be there to support them, and let them fix (and learn from) their mistakes. Not only will this take some weight off of your shoulders, but it can be very fulfilling to watch someone grow and mature as a result of your guidance.
- Remember that it’s not the end of the world. Many people spend their entire lives trying to prevent bad things from happening. But guess what? They happen anyway. And life goes on. That’s not to say you shouldn’t take any kinds of precautions in life, but if the majority of your thoughts are consumed in contingency planning, you’re not enjoying life. You’re preventing it. When you’re feeling threatened by things that haven’t happened yet, remember these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
- Some of your hurts you have cured,And the sharpest you still have survived,But what torments of grief you enduredFrom the evil which never arrived.
- Focus on what you have, not what you have to do. Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking “I have to straighten this up…I have to correct him…I have to stop her…” but truthfully, we don’t have to do anything. You can walk away from any task, at any time. Try replacing every “have to” with a “want to” and see if the statement still holds. Meaning, is it something that you’ll look back on when you’re in your deathbed and be happy you did? Most likely not. So appreciate what you have, while you have it.
- When bad things happen (and they will, no matter what) shrug and smile. Remind yourself that:
- Life goes on.
- You win some, you lose some.
- This, too, shall pass.
- You can’t please everybody.
- We live and learn.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Remember that sometimes bad things lead to the best things.
- Before you say no, think “why not?”
- Shift your mindset so that you concentrate on what makes you feel happy, not on what makes you feel safe.
- Learn meditation. Some systems may be quite involved, but most are relatively simple, and all of them will help you achieve all of the above.
- Don’t confuse being laid-back with being lazy. People who are laid back get things done, but they do so with a relaxed attitude rather than a frantic attitude. Lazy people just don’t get things done.
- Showing a laid-back attitude in the workplace can have risks. Many employers may confuse “laid-back” with “lazy” and think one does not take the job seriously. It is important to show that this attitude can actually be very productive, often even more so than others which demand greater stress.
- Personality tests such as Myers-Briggs can help one determine their particular personality. Do not be surprised if some of the most successful people down through history share the same trait as you.
- How to Be Optimistic
- How to Be Patient
- How to Live a Simple and Peaceful Life
- How to Create a Calmer Household
- How to Relax
- How to Graciously Accept an Unattractive Gift from the in Laws
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