Managing Stress: Everyone Wants You to Be Happy. No, Really.

Forgive me if I’m veering slightly into self-help territory. It’s not what I’m going for, but I wanted to share a mini-epiphany I had in the hopes of perhaps holding onto it. (Aren’t epiphanies such slippery little suckers? The second you touch them is as quick as they get away!)

It was around day three of my vacation, and all was well. Better than well, actually: Sunny and 89 degrees, with daily yoga, beautiful organic food, cocktails, sunsets, and jokes and love with my husband. Really, exactly what you want a vacation to feel like. And yet. Below the surface that little anxious voice was still rearing her ugly head here and there, trying to sabotage my chill.

What the hell could I be anxious about, I wondered, as I did another chaturanga. So I’d run down the list. My work was done. Everyone knew I was gone. There were automatic messages set on all my email accounts. But I still caught myself drifting into nervous fantasies about who I was dissapointing, who was waiting on me, some expectation I had not fulfilled.

I doubt I’m unique here, but a lot of my discomfort as a human being stems from this kind of stuff. Call me a Pisces, or call me a woman, but I have spent the better part of my life fretting over how other people may or may not be feeling about something that I may or may not have done. As I’ve grown up I’ve come to realize that most of these worries aren’t really that helpful to the people I’m worried about, and any time we overestimate the role we’re playing in other people’s lives, we are living a bit of a (self-involved) delusion. Which takes me to the petit epiphany.

Lying on the mat one day, I had a thought that went something like this: “Damnit, Self, everyone wants you to be happy right now, so just relax already.” I’m not saying that folks don’t ever have bad intentions, or that I don’t make anyone mad (I do),  but in that moment I knew with certainty that the people in my life—if they were thinking of me at all—were most likely happy for me!

I think in general we probably underestimate how often this is true. Sure, friends, family, coworkers, can drive us up a wall. But I’d wager that most times out of 10, the things that piss us off the most about those we love comes from a place of just wanting them to be happy. Am I right? From our besties to our parents, we hate seeing people in any patterns that cause them suffering, and we hate to see people suffer at all.

Anyways, this thought gave me tremendous comfort on my trip. Any time I caught myself falling prey to anxious thoughts, I’d repeat it in a whisper: everyonewantsyoutobehappy, everyonewantsyoutobehappy, everyonewantsyoutobehappy. And doggonnit, it worked.

Do you have any mantras that you go back to that help you relax? Do share!

Oh Happy Days

Comments
7 Responses to “Managing Stress: Everyone Wants You to Be Happy. No, Really.”
  1. Rebecca says:

    hmmm…well, everyone wants me to be miserable, and just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean that’s not true.

    Anyway, I use Om Namah Shivaya (roughly, Om and Salutations to that which I am capable of becoming), and focus on taking that energy in as I’m saying it. I finish off with a Namaste, as the energy I want to put out to the world. It helps remind me to behave myself and helps dissipate stress.

  2. Therese says:

    I so agree with this. We tend to take on everyone’s problem and forget to appreciate ourselves. I think this is a great mantra. Yoga is an excellent time to remind ourselves of this inner peace. Thanks for sharing.

  3. sara says:

    Ohhhhh, I love this. I’m a fellow Pisces girl, and I struggle with these same anxieties, and it’s a huge mental effort to calm down my spinning mind. Even while doing yoga, I find myself focusing on to-do lists and the things in my life I’ve deemed unsatisfactory. I’m going to steal your idea and give it a shot!

    everyonewantsyoutobehappy, sara, everyonewantsyoutobehappy….

  4. Sarah says:

    Please read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements. He says it all, and says it so well.

  5. comagirl says:

    Normally, I would remind myself by saying “maitri”, which is extending compassion and lovingkindness to oneself and others.

    I really try not to get to this point though. I turn my business cell phone off the minute I stop working, I only check email a few times a day. I unplug. I do not multi-task, giving each thing I do, individually, my undivided attention. This did not come easy, but was learned through raising three children alone, while working and volunterring and trying to be ur-super mom. When you have a frantic life, you become perpetually frantic. Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?

  6. Dawn says:

    I tell myself several times a day to stop worrying about the things that I cannot change. It only works about 40% of the time, but a worrywart like me needs all the help she can get.

  7. Lindsey says:

    I like to say \Be gentle\ or \be gentle with yourself\ because the root of so many of my frustrations or anxieties come from being so damn harsh on myself, and not allowing myself to feel the way I do at any particular moment. So, if I can tell myself to be gentle with myself then I am able to take a step back and approach my feelings with loving kindness instead of getting more frazzled. Then either just allow myself to be how I am and know it’s only temporary and that things are always changing and trust that I will feel better. Or then I’m able to gently work out why I’m feeling stressed and then move forward with expelling that stressor!

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