Things That Are Deceptively Simple, But Incredibly Powerful
by Robin Sacks
One of the reasons people don't stick with things they start, even when those things are guaranteed to improve their lives, is that they think it needs to be harder and more complicated than it really is.
Part of the problem is that when things have been marketed to us as "easy" and "simple," there's usually so much more to it - we have been deceived, or only given part of the story, and so we believe that things are always more difficult than they are thought to be.
That's not always true.
The other problem is that we have been told countless times that "change is hard," and that makes us believe that it take so much time and energy that we give up quickly when we don't see immediate results. We get impatient.
You've been lied to (and you believed it).
More often than not, change is not hard and doesn't take a lot of time. What IS hard and takes a lot of time is thinking about changing and talking about changing. Those things are exhausting when you just run them on a loop without taking any action to accompany them.
In reality, the moment you commit to a decision, you have already changed. Now, it's just a matter of taking some action to move in that direction.
There are so many things that you can do with little time and little energy that will make a big, positive impact in your life (and make change easier and faster). But many don't do them because they believe they are "too simple" to make an impact. Here is a list that can get you started with some little, simple things that will make a huge impact on your life (if you do them consistently).
Take One Breath
The difference between feeling stressed and feeling more in control is often just a breath away. Think about it, when someone else is stressing, what do you tell them to do? "Take a deep breath," you tell them.
Because one deep breath is all it takes to tell your brain that it's not in danger. One deep breath tells your brain it can begin to retreat from 'fight or flight' (or stop the 'fight or flight' response before it begins). One deep breath begins to change your physiology instantly in a good way.
Calm people breathe better than stressed people; that's a big reason they are calm. They take conscious and intentional breaths throughout the day.
Here's a secret...relaxation breathing starts with the exhale, not the inhale. Do this right now; take a big breath. If you started with the inhale, you may have noticed your shoulders and chest went up and out. But now do this; exhale all of your breath...push it out until there is no more. Now, let the air come back in naturally. This time, you may have noticed that your shoulders and chest stayed put, but your belly expanded. It probably felt like you were filling your lungs from the bottom, up instead of from the top, down.
Making that one simple shift a habit (exhale first, then inhale) will get your breathing "deep" and keep both your body and brain in a state of being more calm.
Right now! Go ahead and sit back. Most of you just sat back, and do you know what that tells you? That you were leaning forward with your body tensed. Go ahead and lean forward again. Do you feel the tension in your shoulders, waist, and back? In order to sit forward, you have to create tension in your body. Now, sit back; let the chair do all the work. Do you feel the release of all that tension?
Get in the habit of simply sitting back and watch how much less tension your body holds.
Give yourself permission to walk away from stress.
We sometimes have this notion that we "should" keep working until we are finished with a challenging task, 'stick with a problem until we solve it,' or remain in the room while everyone is arguing and getting nowhere.
You might say, "I can't just get up and walk out in the middle of a meeting," but think about this. How many things can you step away from? I guarantee, it's a lot. When stress begins to build, step away for a few minutes. The simple act of standing up and moving will re-oxygenate your brain and your body and often, that is exactly what they both need to solve the problem you've been staring at or answer the question you've been struggling with.
Schedule 10 Minutes Between Your Appointments
It's common to schedule commitments back to back to back. After all, that's how our calendars present themselves; with nice little hour blocks of time already prepared for us. It looks orderly on the calendar, but as soon as one meeting goes five minutes over, your entire day is a stress-filled ball of "catch-up."
There are going to be times when you are on someone else's schedule, however, anytime you are the one scheduling a time for something, build in a little cushion for yourself.
For example, you might have appointments scheduled for 9:00, 10:00, and 12:00 today. Someone calls and asks if you can meet around 11:00. Instead of just saying 'sure,' say, "Let's make it 11:10," and let them know that you need to be off the call by 11:50.
Control what you can control. By simply building in little 10 minute cushions in your daily calendar whenever you can, you create a day that is more manageable and less stressful. You will find that you are more present and focused with each time commitment simply because you had a few minutes to move from one to the other without everything in your head overlapping.
According to Wikipedia, 'KISS, the acronym for keep it simple, stupid, is a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore, simplicity should be a key goal in design, and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
Walk into your life each day reminding yourself that 'simple' is smart and gets things done. Develop the habit of keeping things simple by making these four choices a part of your every day life.