have you ever wanted your very own
chaos test dummy?
someone who doesn't always get life right but is willing to test drive the overwhelming number of life strategies that all purport to make your life bigger, stronger, better so that you can cut through the chaos and just get the straight-up goods?
well, you do!
i'm crystal, the chaos test dummy of chaos & tonic
wanna know a secret?
i struggle with my emotions. i don't always eat healthy. i don't always choose organic. i can't figure out how to quiet my mind long enough to meditate and i don't always live my life in balance and harmony. yup, you guessed it. i'm human. and not of the "super" human variety. just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill, human.
unlike my chaos & tonic partner, betsy, who has been in mad pursuit of tonics (ie super helpful life strategies) for most of her life, i have been hot on the trail of chaos for years. betsy is, of course, human too and just as i am not without my own expertise in tonics, betsy is also not without her own brand of chaos. we know chaos and we rely on one another for tonics to navigate our way through the chaos. so as you read this, know that we're not just sitting behind a desk, drinking mimosas and dolling out bs advice, although the mimosa part does sound nice. we're living chaos too. and we're practicing tonics; sometimes successfully, sometimes not. so with that said, i thought i would share with you what i'm going through now and the tonic i'm trying. maybe you can relate?
every morning, i wake up with anxiety. i'm anxious as i write this. i feel myself falling into an abyss. how do i help my ailing, elderly mother who lives by herself in another country during a pandemic? how do i follow my passions AND make enough money to pay my bills AND live a life with some level of comfort? how can i accomplish everything i have to do in a 24 hour period? how long do i have to wait for the next season of netflix's "dead to me"?
something's gotta give
for years, i've been hearing about this thing called, gratitude. i'm sure you've heard of it as well. but what really is gratitude? is it an antidote to anxiety and stress? do i really have to write down three things every day that i'm grateful for in order for this thing to work? does being grateful for caffeine count?
gratitude is touted as a strategy to improve sleep, relationships and overall health. it supposedly boosts self-esteem, assists with anger management and yes, reduces stress. sounds like a pretty tall order. honestly, i was a little skeptical but at the same time, something's gotta give. so, i thought, "why not give gratitude?" here's a couple tidbits that converted my skepticism and got me onboard the gratitude train:
warning: gratitude is not thankfulness
until now, i equated gratitude with just being thankful. you know, the scene at thanksgiving, where everyone holds hands and says they are grateful for recipes that make brussel sprouts palatable. gratitude is actually a complex concept that goes much deeper than mere thankfulness. it is a state of being. gratitude isn't just giving thanks for what we have. gratitude isn't about material bounty. it is developing a deep sense of appreciation for the ordinary miracles we often overlook. it is choosing to focus attention on what we have rather than what we don't have.
more than a feeling
being thankful is a feeling, it's an emotion and as with all emotions, it can be fleeting. now, you can't have gratitude without feeling thankful. feeling thankful is the first step. gratitude takes thankfulness to the next level. gratitude requires action. gratitude requires making a conscious choice. here's what i've been doing. maybe give it a go?
ask yourself, what can you possibly be grateful for right now, in this very moment? it may just be the fact that you are breathing. maybe it's that you have clarity of thought. maybe, you are thankful for a particular relationship in your life. now, take a deep breath. feel gratitude for the simple act of air filling your lungs. take note of what you are seeing, smelling and feeling right now. ask yourself, "what action can i take to build upon this thing i am grateful for?" developing a state of gratitude isn't just a one and done thing. it requires being alert, being diligent and believe me, it requires work. but doesn't everything worthwhile require at least some effort?
i'm new to the gratitude thing. i admit, it's a work in progress. but when i feel the anxiety creep in, i am making a conscious choice to breathe, to draw my attention to what i am grateful for in the moment. i do this every day, sometimes, several times a day. and you know what? i think it's helping. although i still do wonder when "dead to me" is coming back to netflix.