*A 2009 article in the New York Times discussed how many Americans are using sleeping pills to fall asleep. The article stated that, “As Americans struggle for a good night’s rest, they are looking for help from a pill. Prescriptions for sleeping medications topped 56 million in 2008 — a record, according to the research firm IMS Health, up 54% from 2004.”
While this article is two years old, I would bet money that the numbers have not gotten any better. What is happening and why are people having so much trouble finding peace? I have my own theories on this that I will share here now.
Ahhhhh, the American Dream. Who’s not after it? Almost everyone is. From the time we can understand the English language, we’re taught to want certain things and experiences. More and more of them. From new bicycles and camp when we’re younger to big houses and luxury vacations when we’re older, we’re taught to want “the best”; which usually comes with a significant price tag. The first point of stress here is making sure that you have what you think you need to be happy. The second is affording it all. This sometimes leads to overcommitment and ultimately a consistent worry about things or money. The solution. Sit down and map out what you want your life to look like and why you want it to look that way. Think about your value system and ensure that your “ideal life” is line. Write down the vision, determine what it would take to get there, the obstacles you would face, how you would handle them and the first five steps. At the first sign of scheduling, spending or doing too much, revisit the vision.
How many times have you awakened in the middle of the night remembering a bill that was unpaid, a phone call you forgot to make, a promise you didn’t keep, a task you forgot to complete or how you were going to get out of a jam? A few of these is nothing to worry about. It happens. I suspect that we all have times when we don’t get “it” done. The problem is when we let this list pile up on us and we end up with a laundry list of things we think we have to worry about. The solution here is to write down everything on your plate and action plans on how you are going to address each item, then begin. Most times, just knowing you have a plan of attack will ease the stress.
Worry About the Possibility of What Could Happen:
Often times, I find that people spend a lot of life worrying about “what if”. What if I fail? What if I get sick? What if I get laid off? What if I get lost? What if he/she falls out of love with me? What if something goes wrong? Well, you may be familiar with the prayer that says “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Simply said, there are somethings you can control and others you can’t. The point is to keep preparing and keep living. The “what if” is always possible and sometimes probable, but don’t let it stop you from living your life. The “what if” is, unfortunately, the reason for so many “people on pause”. They wait and wait and wait for just the right moment to play, sometimes only to realize that the moment hast passed. The solution here is to push play today.
Things are Actually Going Wrong:
I get it. Sometimes, things are actually a mess. Your body is failing. Your marriage is falling apart. Your children are having problems. You are being foreclosed on. Your car did breakdown, making you late for work while you were already on a performance improvement plan. Someone did violate you. You were fired. You don’t know where the money is coming from. You are exhausted from the many bumps in the road. It happens. Believe it or not, you can still find peace eventually. How? Ask for help. Find someone to listen, contribute, take the kids or advise you on your finances. Find a Dr. who knows more, a job you don’t want (for now), a crisis center or a way to have an honest sit down with your boss. My point here is 20% of life is what happens to you and 80% is how you respond to it. Don’t throw in the towel or become all of your negative experiences. We need you at your full potential.
Woulda, shoulda, coulda! Yeah, yeah, yeah. We all have those things we would have done differently if we had it to all over again thoughts. Well, here’s the thing; we’ll never know what would have come of those decisions either. We can only speculate about how it would have turned out differently and how our lives would have been so much better *violin playing in the background*. Tough love coming. MOVE ON! You can’t change it. I’m sorry. And, since you don’t know what the outcome would be, let’s just get on with it, shall we? Again, I’m encouraging you to write down your ideal life. Not from the then, but from now. From now on, what kind of life do you want to live and why? Please don’t forget the why. Because we’ve been brainwashed to think that we need a certain kind of life, we can go into auto pilot mode and create something that doesn’t line up with our core or purpose. Stop judging yourself for your past and certainly turn down the volume on the idiots with all of their own skeletons in the closet who are judging you. In my, not so recent past, I’ve hitched hiked, made a bad decision (or two), lied about something, made decisions for my own gain, not given more when I should have, etc. However, I’m constantly evolving and knowing my true self and my core values; which have come to guide me so clearly these days. Live in your truth from day to day. Then even when you make decisions that don’t have your intended outcome, you can point to why and be comfortable that you still made the right choice.
I’m going to go spiritual on you for you a moment. Giving those who aren’t a chance to opt out if you like. I’m offering an affirmation of faith to be released for peace. We need more of it in this world and it’s possible. “’If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23.
Affirmation of Faith for Peace:
God, I am grateful for the peace that reigns in my life from this moment forward. Despite what I feel now, peace has overtaken me. My nerves and heart rate are at rest. I will take control of my life where I can, and release the ultimate faith for everything else to work for my good. I am releasing all drama, overcommitment, unfinished business, “what if” scenarios, chaos in my life and regret. I thank you for the ability to move forward. Peace reigns. Amen.
Monica Cost is communications strategist, brand manager and respected corporate and motivational speaker. She is the President and Founder of Evidently Assured, a communications and brand management firm. Email her at: [email protected]. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost.