The Economy, Stress and Life Balance

These days there is an abundance of unpleasantness–bad news, worry, and stress–pulling for our attention. While staying informed has value, so does remaining aware of how the bad news, dire predictions and elevated levels of stress and worry are affecting us. It’s especially important to consider how much we might be allowing the information or the collective mood to influence us without our awareness and how much energy we are expending on the issue.

In every situation, we choose exactly where we place our attention and our focus. At this moment I am choosing whether I will focus on the sounds outside my window, the thoughts I am having, the way my clothing feels against my skin, or the smell of the orange I just ate.

The quality and the content of our thoughts affects the other things we think about as well as our mood and our level of hopefulness. The things we pay attention to NOW have the potential to influence the things we will pay attention to in the future, because, as research tells us, we tend to notice the things that confirm what we already believe.

Why is this important? It’s important because, if I am walking around feeling scared or anxious or worried or pessimistic, I am not only going to experience those feelings, I am also going to be a magnet for any evidence that seems to confirm that mindset. Even if I don’t realize I’m doing this, my mind will be working to notice the things that agree with how I already feel and think and to NOT NOTICE the things that are in conflict with how I am feeling

Is it possible that in this time of economic worry and stress we are conditioning ourselves to NOT notice the good and the positive? I think it’s a question worth asking

If you haven’t already, I suggest you take some time to think about how the current collective “mood” is influencing you. You may have worries or fears that you didn’t have a year ago. Has there been a shift in your attitude or outlook? Have you changed your approach in certain situations? Are you responding to new and different demands? Look carefully. Someone I spoke to today said that he feels more tired and realizes that he is spending a lot of energy simply trying to cheer up other worried people. It’s starting to bring him down and he acknowledged he needs to seek out more “lightness” in his life.

Take a moment to notice how society’s stress is affecting you. There isn’t a correct response, or a “right way” to be affected. However, what IS unhelpful is to be impacted but unaware of how you are being influenced or to be out of touch with the impact your environment is having on you.

My challenge to you is to take some time to consider whether the economic worries are influencing you and whether you are responding in the way that you want to.

Ask yourself how much time you are spending thinking about or exposing yourself to this area of your life? Is it useful? Is it just right? Is it excessive? Are you avoiding it altogether, but laying awake at night worrying about questions that you feel too afraid to ask? Again, there are no correct answers, just an opportunity to be aware and make choices based in awareness.

Now ask yourself how you want to carry yourself through this time. How much of your energy do you want to give it? How much of your attention? Where else do you want to focus your attention? Are there positives you want to be sure to notice? Are there good self-care habits you want to be especially careful to maintain?

We choose where we place our attention. Take very good care.

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