Last night while I was unpacking boxes I came across my grandma’s stuff from her old home. There was a pile of awards and honor certificates from various organizations that I never knew she supported on her fixed income- veterans societies, local groups to help the poor, children’s aid in various countries- all in a pile dating back to the early 90’s.
How did she do so much and keep it all under wraps?
Grandma also cleaned, did all the cooking, took care of the garden, and made time to watch all of her important TV shows (!) and spend time with her friends. She lived to be 96 in pretty great health.
She also never complained.
Seeing all of this reminded me of the best way to not be overwhelmed that I learned from her as a little kid growing up with her downstairs. She taught me to keep things quiet and keep them going. This is a life-changing way to be!
Learning from my grandma I managed to do so much in high school without anyone really realizing it. I ran the school magazine, I was in pageants (forgive me!) and I travelled for most of the summers doing enrichment programs. I was a debate team insurgent, took a zillion classes seriously and had internships. I took a bus everywhere because my mother couldn’t drive and I never thought twice about it.
And… no one really knew what I was doing because I hadn’t developed the horrible habit yet of complaining about how busy I was.
You know that habit?
Everyone around me in prep school was “so stressed out” and constantly going on about how busy they were and how much they had to do.
I was quiet and I didn’t feel overwhelmed. In fact, I was excited to take on more in my stealth way. My quiet ways didn’t make me a very cool kid, but the cool kids were all freaking out and I didn’t need to freak out and bond with people over a condition of overwhelm.
Thank you grandma!
So when college admissions rolled around it was a big shock to everyone that I got accepted early to an Ivy and put it off to get into Stanford.
Of course, I broke away from the great habits of grandma as I went out into the world and found more people to complain to about my state of being busy. The more I complained about being busy, the less I got done. And the less opportunity came to me.
Complaining creates a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies in my experience. None of them are good.
” I can’t afford this” doesn’t bring in money. ” I feel overwhelmed” invites more confusion. ” I am so busy” chases away more good things that might make you busy, albeit in a good way.
Have you noticed this, too?
One big idea that has helped my whole life in the last few years is to quit complaining.
Seriously : quit.
Everyone is busy, everyone has obstacles, everyone is challenged. Notice you rarely hear anyone who you admire going on about how “stressed out” they are?
Complaining is a self-imposed curse.
* Instead of complaining, clear some clutter from your space.
* If you are genuinely too busy, sit down and declutter your schedule so you have the time to do what you need and want to do.
* If you are feeling too stressed, these tips can help you to sleep better and become more of a morning person, which will help you to feel more grounded and in synch with nature.
* And if you are really unhappy with things right now, taking more time to cultivate your talents and creativity (*this book is the best place I know of to start!) will help you to plug into more happiness.
Quitting the constant “my life is so crazy!” complaining loop in itself is a revolution. I;m so glad I found my grandma’s secret stash of awards. Her memory lives on in beautiful ways. xoxo Dana
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