My Mum loved poems and seemed to have a great memory for the lines. Much better than me! She used to encourage me with the words “if you can’t be a tree, be the best little bush” or something like that. I decided today to search for the words and found it online in no time. It must be better known than I thought. Here it is:
Sometimes I find life overwhelming. I don’t think I am alone in that experience! Just thought I would put together a list of some easy things to remember when feeling stressed/depressed etc.
Remember there are some things in my control and others are not (inspired by the Stoics)
Remember that it is not things that upset us but our beliefs/judgements about them (Stoics)
Be grateful for life, health and the many good things in my life
Be in the moment, as in “when doing the dishes, just do the dishes”
I sometimes break the day down to hours or minutes e.g. “for the next hour I will shower and make my bed” I can do more if I want to but the goal is to just get one or two things done. (works for me).
I try to remember that others are fighting their own internal battles (we don’t know what it is like to be them) so try to be compassionate and try to see where they are coming from.
I find something to do that lightens my mood – I love taking photos of flowers or editing photos so I can set up a small project (go out to the garden and snap away and them come inside and edit the photos) and it can help me lift my mood.
Listen to a podcast. I am currently into learning about Stoicism and there are heaps of podcasts and YouTube video to watch or listen to.
If every thought in my head is coming out bleak I need to consider it might be my thinking that is out of kilter and not the rest of the universe!
Sometimes I write in my journal and maybe do a mind map (in my journal) to get a more objective picture of where my life and thoughts are at the moment. See what I can change and what I can’t.
I try to resist making big decisions when stressed. I sometimes want to do something straight away but encourage myself to review the idea at a later date – maybe three months, depending on the issue.
If all else fails, I go and have a rest for a while. Often I feel better afterwards!
“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.” ― Epictetus, Enchiridion and Selections from the Discourses
I thought it would be worthwhile to look more closely at what things are, and are not, in my control. Have I missed any biggies?
Things in my control
Things not in my control
Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Such as: My perspective and opinions; How I treat other people; How I respond to how other people treat me; What hobbies and interests I choose to pursue; How much exercise I do; What I eat and drink; How I wear my hair, makeup, and clothes; How I spend and/or invest my savings and my time; What I study, read, watch or listen to; What I choose to plant in my garden; How generous or not I am with my possessions and time; Who I choose to spend my time with; What values I have.
Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. Such as: Getting older; Other people and their opinions of me; Whether other people agree with me or not; Whether other people listen to me or not; Whether other people understand me or not; Actions by other people; The weather; My genetic code; The stock markets; Other peoples’ actions; Death and illness; Disasters such as pandemics, bush fires, floods etc. Wars; The past and the future.
Today I took a leap of faith (of great risk more likely) and decided to merge two of my blogs together. That is this one and “It’s a Small World”. It seems the posts are now spread throughout my allaboutwordswa posts. The only way I could be sure that the merge worked was to find some images from the other site. This one below is a flower from a chilli plant. It is not taken with a conventional camera but a tool that can be used in the field for enthusiasts – it actually magnifies the image up to 500 times. The image above is of a blueberry.
I can see how we can use this idea in our present lives, however it occurred to me today that perhaps it could help us deal with the past as well. I am inclined to believe that we have all had some bad/difficult moments or experiences throughout our childhood, teenage years and beyond. We didn’t have much say over some things and as children may not have had the capacity to reason to the same degree as we do today.
If you are like me, the past can still impact on us today by robbing us of our self-confidence and self-esteem – if we let it. What if we were able to look back with wisdom and realise that our judgements (of ourselves and others) at the time were incorrect or at least inaccurate?
Maybe this would help restore some peace of mind and liberate our thinking about who we are today.
Something worth giving some more thought to, I think!
Epictetus teaches us that each individual is responsible for their own good or their own evil; their own fortune or their own misfortune; their own happiness or their own own anguish. There is no such thing as being the ‘victim.’ Suffering is self-inflicted and can be cured through a discipling of the mind. It is not things that upset us, but our judgements about those things. “When we are frustrated, angry or unhappy,” Epictetus explains, “never hold anyone except ourselves – that is, our judgments – accountable.”
For the first time I have paid more attention to the “things I can change” aspect rather than the things I cannot. I think it is because I heard it in different words (Stoic philosopher, Epictetus), as above: “Some things are in my control and others are not” that opened my eyes. My focus up to now has mostly been on acceptance of the things out of my control. I still think that is valid and useful.
Now I can see more clearly that I have the ability and the right to be assertive around the issues where I do have control. If my motives are virtuous then I need not worry about the opinions of others. By virtuous I mean wise. The main difference in my thinking is not being concerned what others think. A liberating thought!
I was on the treadmill at the gym this morning. They have a screen where you can choose to watch TV or have different outdoor scenes etc. I chose Channel 54 on TV. They featured different holiday destinations in Australia. I was surprised to see Echuca, Victoria and the Murray River as I used to live and work there. A paddle steamer was chugging down the river.
I remember I had a job managing a ‘corner store’ that sold just about any convenience foods and takeaway lunches. I worked from 5am to about 10pm at night six days a week. I have never worked so hard in my life! I was twenty at the time and we were living in a tent (true story for another day) in the caravan park adjacent to the store. The owners wanted to take a couple of months holidays and offered us the job with the house behind the business.
On Sundays I would take a ride on the paddle steamer and just stretch out on the bench seat and relax! I had a precious few hours off and I really soaked up that leisure time. When I saw the paddle steamer on the screen this morning, that was what immediately came to mind.
This topic is a recurring theme in my thoughts recently. I wonder if it is because COVID restrictions mean I cannot visit my extended family and the place where I grew up (about 3500km away)? I don’t know.
I lived in Western Australia for 38 years and only lived in my home state of Victoria for 28 years. Even though WA is enormous, I have lived in many regions and many towns whereas my knowledge of Victoria is limited to Melbourne and the country area of my youth. However, I could go back ‘home’ tomorrow and see people in the street who would say ‘hello’ like I have never been away (it IS a small town).
So is ‘home’ more of a state of mind? For now I think I will count my blessings for my current situation and think about it another day!
Click HERE to visit my childhood home or click HERE for where I live today!
My husband has a new interest since Covid began. He is learning to play the keyboard, music theory and composition. He composed this piece of music which I find to be light and refreshing. I hope you enjoy his first piece 🙂
Several people told me that they would like to have a copy of my book but postage from the U.S. to their countries was too expensive. So………..
I have been trying to make a “Nature’s Geometry: Succulents” flip book but no luck. They either cannot make a good flipbook from a PDF, or they want thousands of dollars and several months to re-format my book to fit their requirements. Nope.
I do have a very nice PDF that works on Windows, iPad, and Mac, now in my Etsy shop with my printed book. Print book is $35 with free shipping to U.S. locations, and the PDF is $15 as an instant download. Both will make great Christmas gifts!