You know you want to.
You want to be part of the club. You know the one, it’s the “Oh my God, I am soooo stressed out” club. It’s not cool to be relaxed anymore. Even if you are part of the whole yoga/mindfulness/eco scene, you’d better at least give the appearance of being world-weary and overburdened by it all. You have to be ready to one-up people when they tell you how stressed they are.
If you aren’t stressed out, you probably aren’t very important. Important people have to have a furrowed brow and permanent knot between their shoulders. And we are all supposed to be good little do-bees doing important stuff, right? Right…
It’s not enough to be busy.
Many people mistakenly use the words “busy” and “stressed” interchangeably when it’s just not accurate. We were made to work. It’s not the busyness that’s the problem. In fact, for many people, too little to do is stressful too. Work is a good thing. Play is a good thing. If you want to be stressed out, you need to do more than just work. You need to commit yourself to the following:
1. Treat your laptop like an appendage. Because, you know, you have lots of important things to do. You don’t want to miss that key email, tweet, status update, or text. What would happen? It doesn’t matter if you are outside, eating a meal, talking with a friend––stay plugged in at all costs. Bonus points here if logging on is the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep. Meditation, schmeditation, get online! (Same thing goes for iPhone or Crackberry.)
2. Make sure you fill every minute of every day. If at all possible, don’t spend a single second alone, and definitely don’t get too quiet. Turn on the television, music, something. If it gets too quiet, you might start thinking. Worse yet, you might even let go of your thoughts and just be for awhile, and what kind of hippie bullsh*t is that!?!
3. Sit all day. If you have to go somewhere, drive. Don’t even think of walking or riding your bike. Moving around is over-rated, right? You might experience your blood flowing through your body, your heart beating, your breath quickening. You might feel something. Also––stay indoors at all costs.
4. Live your life according to someone else’s values. Pick someone. Anyone. The Kardashians seem to be ubiquitous lately. Or aim higher: Deepak Chopra. Steve Jobs. Whoever. As long as it isn’t authentic, you’re golden. As long as it doesn’t match what’s in your heart, take it and run with it. If you want to be stressed out, ignore everything inside that has that golden resonance, every part that’s the real you.
And last but possibly most important of all:
5. Play it safe. Don’t take risks. Don’t love anyone. Don’t speak your mind. Stay in a job you hate. Stay in a relationship that hurts. It’s easier to stay than to go, but it will cost you dearly. Playing it safe has the added bonus of creating a huge internal ache, while giving the appearance that you have it all together and know what you are doing.
Or maybe you’d rather skip all that. Maybe you’re sick of the cult of stress. Maybe there is that piece of you that doesn’t care about what other people think if it means holding onto what insults your soul. In that case, disregard the previous instructions completely and take this advice from Mark Twain instead:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
~ Mark Twain
So close your laptop. Put the coffee down. Go outside. Plant your bare feet in the grass. Feel the wind on your skin. Take some deep breaths. Be still, and look at the sky. Reach inside and see what’s there. Dare to do the thing you’ve been afraid to do. Be your own happily ever after. Live deliberately.