Athletes call this state being "in the zone". It's a time in which you forget yourself, temporarily, and get so caught up in whatever it is that you're doing that you seem to exist as an instinctual, not a intellectual being. You seem connected to an oversoul, totally beyond your comprehension and beyond your control.
This past year has been one of the most stressful years of my life, for a variety of reasons. I, as much as any of you out there, crave a lack of tension and a sense of relaxation. In my own private world, I have to have a lot of time to decompress. I have to have time to unwind and let things just sink in.
How do I deal with stress?
I use affirmations. Not always as much as I should, of course, but enough that I know they work for me. I start by saying to myself, when I think to:
“There are a certain number of things I can control, and a large number of things I cannot. Always strive to never confuse the two”.
I’m the sort of person who always wants to be in control of his own destiny. I’ve never liked being pulled one direction or another, or ascribing to this trend or that trend…“swimming with the current”, as Thomas Jefferson put it. I often say that if the world is truly a stage in which we are all players, then I am an actor with a very limited range. I cannot play anyone but myself. However, I do play myself extraordinarily well.
I am reminded of a passage in Virgil’s Anaeid that I was forced to read my senior year of undergrad.
“Humans make plans, and the Gods laugh.”
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve gotten my hopes up, in expectation of lofty goal, only to have it crumble at my feet. Such is life.
For a long time, after each of these disappointments, I played the “what if” game.
“What if I had just spent more time on this problem as opposed to that problem?”
“What if I hadn’t said that to her or him in that situation?”
“What if I’d never taken that job?”
You can get into a bad habit of saying “what if” to the point that it paralyzes you from making any actual progress.
The fallacy in this line of thinking is that it fosters a belief in the impossible…the irrational.
IF you or I simply try hard enough, gets hurt enough, or puts himself or herself in enough life situations, we believe, then disappointment and failure just won’t happen.
That’s a nice delusion, but it’s hardly the truth.
In my own life, the times in which I have looked back and played that horribly defeatist game of second-guessing myself, I've been the most miserable.
I know that the holidays, especially, are times in which many of us try to put on a good face. We, for either humility’s sake or for a sense of following the pack, attempt to be better people for a brief time.
So this year, I resolve…this time…to reform my way of thinking about life.
I resolve that I may always remember that mistakes are inevitable. May I never forget that there lies a great distinction between the laughter of the Gods and the laughter of my heart.
And may I never forget the difference between the two.