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It’s something we all long for but few of us seem to have.
We live in an increasingly fast-paced world with little room for rest and rejuvenation.
Ask anyone what they’re chasing after. My guess is more than half of them won’t be able to tell you.
We’re restless and stressed. And we have no clue as to why.
Sure most of us would identify sources like money, relationships, work demands, family life, etc. But have you ever really investigated why these things cause your stress?
What if the worst happens?
Are these things really the source of our stress? Or is it really the fear of these things happening?
What if you lost your high-paying job tomorrow? What if your lover suddenly decides to walk away from you? What if you’ve lost control of your kids?
Would you lose your inner calm? Would any of these things happening to you cause you to worry yourself to death?
It’s possible. But most people who find themselves in these unfortunate circumstances find a way to carry on.
They don’t curl up in a ball and stop living (at least not forever). They get through the challenges one day at a time. It’s likely that you’ve gotten through some tough times yourself.
What is that thing inside us that allows us to get through the tough times?
It’s the sense of inner calm that resides in all of us. How can you tap into that sense of inner calm when you find yourself in a cycle of needless fear, stress, and worry?
1. Understand that worry cannot live in the present
Ever notice how your worry fixates on either things that have happened in the past or things you anticipate happening in the future?
If you can learn to remain present to life as it unfolds in front of you, it’s virtually impossible to worry. Sadly, it’s also nearly impossible to remain in the present since it’s so easy for our minds to dwell in the past or the future.
The good news is that we can train our minds to live in the present through mindfulness.
Mindfulness is not sitting crossed-legged and emptying your mind of everything you don’t like while humming in bliss. Mindfulness is the art of noticing what’s happening to you as it happens.
Next time you find yourself worrying about something that you fear will happen, notice yourself as if you were an outside observer.
Be curious about yourself. Ask questions without judgment and challenge your mind’s own assumptions.
When you learn to do this, you will begin to learn how to tap into your well of inner calm.
2. Remember to breathe
Do you know that you take 20,000 to 30,000 breaths a day?
How remarkable is it that you can go through a day and not be aware of a single breath you’ve taken? That’s because your body does it all for you.
If you took time to consciously remember that you are breathing, it can help reduce your stress and worry.
You can do this by taking a few deep breaths. You’ll almost immediately experience a reduction in your anxiety. You’ll also just feel better.
The tricky part is remembering to breathe in the midst of stress. This is where cultivating a sense of mindfulness can have great benefit. When you find yourself hijacked by worry, even if you don’t feel like it, take 2-3 deep breaths.
3. Get in touch with what you really need
Our wants are many but our needs are few.
Tony Robbins, mirroring Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, teaches that all our wants and desires boil down to these six basic human needs: certainty, uncertainty, significance, love and connection, growth, and contribution.
When you’re stressing about whether your car will start in the morning, the deeper need you’re looking to satisfy is the need for certainty.
If you find yourself obsessing about getting a Ferrari, you’re really seeking significance.
For each of the major sources of worry in your life, try to match them to one or more of these six basic needs.
Doing so will help you get to the root of your worry. It will also help you to see that there are other ways to satisfy those needs.
For instance, you can gain a sense of significance by donating to a worthy cause or by checking on your elderly neighbor every now and then.
Find your inner calm
We all experience the inevitable push and pull in our lives that causes stress and worry.
But they need not control your life.
You can choose, in any moment, to tap into the inner calm that’s always beneath the choppy waves of life.