I’m reading a good book suggested by one of my clients called The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown.
The book’s premise is about how to cultivate Wholeheated Living and in order to cultivate this you must also be cultivating calmness and stillness. I wanted to briefly speak about this part of her book how a simple decision to incorporate these concepts helped me this week. But first let me back up a bit and add a bit of context.
This year I am focusing more on being intentional and mindful, theses are my words for the year. Part of this effort is to throw off our culture’s concept that busyness and exhaustion is good and valuable. Our culture thinks this way because many of us gain our self-worth from our accomplishments. I have been working for years to rid myself of this ingrained-from-childhood concept. I have been at work to firmly plant my identify in who God says I am and not what our culture tries to say about me. I found that attempting to build my identity upon accomplishments or acquisitions felt like shifting sand under my feet; no stability was to be found. I say that I have been working for years on this because this re-creating and replanting of my identify is not something that can be done just once and it’s accomplished for the rest of my life, it’s an ever-evolving process as I age and face new challenges. Brown’s book goes right along with many things I have been personally working on.
In one chapter she addresses calmness and stillness.
Brown defines calm as “creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.” She went on to write that practicing calm means feeling your feelings without reacting to heightened emotions like fear and anger.
I would like to add that I think we can and sometimes should react to fear and anger but the key is not allow our outward actions be dominated by those emotions to the extent that we make rash decisions that hurt ourselves or others.
This is NOT an easy feat in the least!
I have realized in my upbringing I learned a bad habit that went something like this: when bad things happen I should take it seriously and thus my outward reaction should reflect that. I’m sure you can imagine that way of reacting has not always worked in my favor. When I became a parent and some crisis was occurring I leaned quickly if I reacted strongly so did my kids, which meant everyone was more freaked out that they needed to be. Medical emergencies could spell traumatic experiences if I did not change how I reacted to bad situations. So I have had to change that!
This week I realized I am doing much better at cultivating calmness in my life. Here’s a short story for example: Our dog loves to sneak out of the yard and run crazy around the neighborhood whenever she can escape the back yard. I have never been able to catch her without someone helping me coax her back to the house. She runs fast and become so hyper she just doesn’t listen to anyone. This week our dog got out of the yard after a nasty hailstorm dislodged the lock on our fence’s gate. So as my kids and I were getting ready to leave the house, the kids went go to get in the car and I went to call the dog in from the back yard at our patio door, assuming she was still in the back yard. My oldest child walks out into our driveway and sees our dog is across the street in the neighbors yard happily smelling the exotic “other yard” scents. Frantically my oldest child yells “SHE’S ACROSS THE STREET!” My usual response has been to run and yell the dog’s name, asking for her to come to me. I knew walking out of the house that this was a crisis, we could lose our beloved dog if she kept running or she could get run over by a car (which almost happened a few months ago) but I also knew in that moment I must change my reaction to this crisis to manage it. This time I coolly set my purse down, told my kids “stay calm” and I walked out to my drive way, scanned to ensure no cars were coming down the street and patted my knees, calling our dog. Our sweet and crazy mutt picked her head up and ran straight to me! First time ever! We were all more than a big shocked that it worked and our little crisis was diverted.
Over many years I have realized that being calm on the outside while still reacting to the crisis at hand gives me more time to make wise decisions. I can still react to these serious situations without displaying to the world that I don’t care. I think I initially rejected this reaction because I assumed calm people in a crisis didn’t really care that much.
I must to give credit where credit is due: a large part of my calmness comes from God. I have an overriding peace from Him that helps me stay calmer in these situations. I’m not saying I’m perfect at doing this 100% of the time. If I don’t get enough rest and I’m under too much stress I have been known to revert to my old ways of reacting. So I know sleep, managing my stress and having daily time with my creator is crucial to having calmness and stillness in my life.
So my question to you is: How can you create more calmness and stillness in your life? It’s crucial to your health and well-being!