Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power. – James Allen
I have a friend who is a kind soul but has a habit of getting upset over the little things that most of us cannot control. It upsets her if there is too much snow, if a dress doesn’t fit, or if stores are ready for Christmas too early during the season (I suspect a few of my readers identify and agree with my friend).
We develop different coping mechanisms when we don’t know how to process life’s ups and downs. My friend fixates on small annoyances as a way of releasing pent-up emotional energy. Others may shop, gamble, eat, drink, take drugs, develop compulsions, or overdo it with spending time on social media sites as a temporary escape from the pressures of internal stress.
We develop both healthy and harmful habits by repeating a behavior over and over again, creating a tendency to default to the well-worn path in our mind.
The following steps are very helpful in learning the art of staying relaxed:
Meditate while taking slow, deep breaths. Deep, slow breathing oxygenates and relaxes the body. Try it, even if it’s just five minutes in the morning. It’s an empowering and self-loving way to start your day.
2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
I was going to say “be in the present” for the second tip, but if we do not learn how to stay balanced when faced with the minor annoyances of life, it’s hard to stay in the present as the mind will be pulling us out of the present moment with stories of why we are irritated.
A method that a few teachers instruct their students to practice is to observe what is affecting you (such as someone honking at you on the freeway) and your reaction, then detach and let go. This allows the emotion to move in and out of your body without attachment and helps to condition your mind not to turn the events of daily life into problems.
A man who conquers himself is greater than one who conquers a thousand men in battle. – Buddha
3. Stay in the Present
Most major spiritual teachers remind us to stay in the present, and for a good reason. The point of power is in the present moment. When we are worried about the past or fearful of the future (generally, fear creeps into the mind that is not present), we become distracted from the opportunities found in the present moment.
We can accomplish more when we are focused in the moment of now, which will become our tomorrow.
Not everyone is an exercise enthusiast, but we can get into the habit of walking daily, doing stretches during commercial breaks while watching TV, or jumping jacks while at the computer. Exercise increases the level of oxygen in the body.
5. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Ending the day by writing what we are grateful for trains our mind to look for the good in ourselves and life.
When we are in a state of gratitude, our hearts are open, and we lower defensive shields. Our perception of life starts to shift. We become attractive to be around and may allow more of the world in, therefore, opening up opportunities for the good to manifest into our lives.
By practicing these steps consistently, we are conditioned to learn how to stay centered. Life tends to work better when we respond to events with a calm mind.