By Paricia G Omoqui
Today didnâ€™t go as I had planned.Â I was set for a photo-shoot.Â I had scheduled clients and intended to take next steps on an article for Allure.Â Instead, Maggie, my older daughter, ended up home from school.Â I cancelled all appointments to take care of her.
Actually, the last few months havenâ€™t been what I expected either.Â My list of goals included finished projects, new partnerships, and more speaking engagements.Â Â Little of what I originally intended has come to completion.Â I could feel frustrated because I havenâ€™t â€œreached my goals.â€
Yet when I sit and consider what has actually taken place, I see that, often, I have no idea what is really best for me.Â Iâ€™ve spent more time with my children than I normally get to.Â Iâ€™ve cooked more than Iâ€™m used to.Â Other supportive roles that Iâ€™ve played only occasionally, Iâ€™ve been performing repeatedly with new people and in new ways.Â I wonâ€™t lie and give the impression that this didnâ€™t create inner conflict.Â It did.Â Some days, rather than relaxing into the flow, Iâ€™ve spent time wishing that I was somewhere else doing something totally different.
Resisting what life brings creates intense stress.
I know better.Â I teach the importance of living in the Now and Iâ€™ve spent several years practicing it earnestly.Â I understand the comfort and enjoyment found in fully embracing life moment by moment.Â Â However, it seems the Universe wanted me to take my practice to an even more comprehensive level: â€œPatricia, you say you want to become a master at staying present.Â Get ready, Life is about to provide you with some surprising twists and turns.Â Will you trust these new directions and flow calmly with the rushing river of Life or will you fight against the currents stubbornly using your energy to swim upstream to the destination you had fixed in your mind?â€
I confess that Iâ€™ve often found myself turning upstream.Â My self-awareness skills are developed enough to help me tune in when my stress levels are rising and Iâ€™m feeling on edge with people around me.Â I have had to stop myself repeatedly from holding onto my â€œPlan A.â€ Plan A is MY PLAN.Â It exists in my head.Â Itâ€™s what my logical mind has conjured up â€“ it is what I think I should be, do and achieve over a period of time.Â Iâ€™m not sure why Iâ€™m taken by surprise when Plan A doesnâ€™t happen as I think it ought to.Â It rarely does.Â Life seems inevitably to have something else, a â€œPlan U (Plan Universe),â€ in store for me.
When the infinite wisdom of the Universe serves me up the perfect dish to try filled with unexpected ingredients and plenty of nutritious value for my ever-evolving soul, why do I get so frustrated?Â Things I could never have anticipated in my life occur all the time.Â Iâ€™m both pleasantly surprised by opportunities that literally fall from heaven with no effort on my part and shocked by startling challenges in my work and relationships.Â Â One thing is certain:Â I am given the next set of growth opportunities perfect for my journey.
Oppose life or open to it?Â Resist this moment or surrender with a willing heart?Â This is our one choice every day, every hour, every minute, even every second.Â When we judge life to be going wrong, we feel anger, resentment, even despair.Â Â We think, â€œThis shouldnâ€™t be happening.Â Itâ€™s not fair that it turned out this way.Â Why are things always so hard for me?â€ We feel victimized by the circumstances we encounter.Â These responses are formed based upon a belief many of us unconsciously espouse:Â Â things can go wrong in my life.Â What if weâ€™ve bought into a viewpoint that is inaccurate?Â Perhaps the reality of the Universe is quite the reverse:Â each thing that occurs in my life is what I need for my development.
When we assume that each moment unfolds with uncanny precision, we have new responses, â€œThis is interesting.Â I didnâ€™t expect this.Â If it is happening, there must be something for me to learn.Â I release myself to the flow of Life and gracefully move with whatever this moment brings me.â€
A different set of questions emerges from the belief that everything happens for a reason.Â Rather than asking, â€œWhy did this happen to me?â€ We instead ask, â€œHow is this situation perfect for me right now?Â What insight can I glean about myself, my relationships and my beliefs from this seeming challenge?â€
Take this seemingly insignificant example of a young woman about to leave for vacation.Â She loved music and anticipated that her most precious possession, her IPod, would be her travel companion.Â She boarded the flight and realized she had dropped her IPod in the taxi.Â It was gone.Â She was angry with herself, devastated by her loss.Â Â However, since it was her practice to look for the silver lining in every situation, she curbed her negative thoughts with a question, â€œIs there anything good that I can find in this situation?â€ For awhile resurging disappointment was so strong that not one answer came to mind.Â Â But, the question itself brought a measure of relief.Â It helped her calm herself and determine to have a good time.
At the end of her trip she revisited the question.Â Â Her mind flooded with insight. Without earplugs to isolate her, she had met several fascinating fellow travelers.Â One had suggested a restaurant with excellent food and reasonable prices.Â Â Another mentioned a company that was hiring for just the position she was seeking.Â She had taken the time to read an uplifting book.Â Â She had tuned into the music of the children giggling as they played games in the row in front of her.Â She realized that her IPod was only one of many ways she could find companionship while traveling.
Your assignment this week is to pay attention to your intention, or â€œPlan Aâ€, and then watch for the emergence of â€œPlan U.â€ Does this cause you fear, anger or frustration?Â Or, can you see goodness, irony and humor in it?Â Just notice.Â Identify whether you believe things have gone wrong or whether you perceive that Life is supporting you with a wiser, underlying design.
If you would like more ideas on how to find the best in any circumstance, please check out my inspirational video clips, shown each Friday morning
at 7:35 a.m. on Today on STV (on both Silverbird TV and DSTV.) If you canâ€™t catch them on TV, you can see them on www.youtube.com .Â Just search by my name.Â Also, please join me on Facebook and Twitter for additional inspiration.
Using Laughter to Reduce Stress
If you had to find a single best, one-size-fits-all solution to reduce stress, it has to be laughter. Laughter is the purest form of human expression that transcends all ages, castes, creeds, religions and other differences.
Time and again, research has shown that laughter is the best medicine. It lowers your blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and boosts your immune system. These, as you might know, are characteristics of a stress free body. Laughter is a natural killer of stress because it loosens the body and makes you feel carefree.
The most important thing that laughter does to you is causing movement. It makes you shake, move and giggle. This helps relax the body and releases endorphins â€“ the natural painkillers in the body. Combine this with the greater intake and use of oxygen in the body and you have the perfect recipe for relaxation and stress reduction.
Stress and anxiety can easily be cured through laughter. And you donâ€™t even have to laugh loudly, even a smile works wonders. When you get up in the morning, make it a habit to smile a big grin that brighten ups your face. Think of nothing, just smile. Now, get out of your bed and start your day. Youâ€™ll never feel stressed throughout the day.
People often ask how to relieve stress and look for some magic pill that can help cure them. We often overlook the magic pill thatâ€™s in use since we were born â€“ laughter. Laughter will not only help you manage stress, it will make you a happy and gleeful person overall â€“ someone people would love to hang out with.
I usually read up a joke book and laugh at even the stupidest joke inside it just to get my mind off stress. You may rent some comedy movies (thereâ€™s a whole plethora of them) or join a laughter club or even start one yourself. You can visit a comic show or just hang out with friends cracking jokes. The key is to take a break from the normal thought processes of the brain and find inner peace.
So laugh â€“ louder and more often because it will make you feel light, alive and healthy. And youâ€™ll not even know where the stress went all of a sudden. Make it a point to laugh at least three times daily until it takes the form of a habit. Remember, the worldâ€™s only free medicine is laughter so use it plenty.