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I: (This Means You.) Be Creatively Selfish—Still More Desperate Optimism

March 24, 2010

This week is devoted to ways to create the Desperately Optimistic L.I.F.E. and the L of Letting Go is followed by the I of taking care of yourself—for you and for the others in your life. A person who is pushed beyond their limits by the multiple demands of school and work and parenting (or being a friend or partner) is likely to also be a bit snappish and not much fun to be around.

If you want to get the others in your life on your side and gain their assistance, you’ll have better luck if you’re nice to them. (I so enjoy the way that the blindingly obvious flows out of my fingers and onto the page and I’m tempted to delete all of this. I would, except that I know from firsthand experience how difficult it is to actually adhere to this policy, being more than a tad snappish from time to time myself.)

Here’s some advice regarding being creatively selfish:

• Enjoy the moments. See the trees. Smell the flowers. Really. Literally. I first began keeping bottles of bubbles to blow on the washer and blowing them whenever I put in a load. I started keeping them on the porches and in the bathroom too. I still do. I blow bubbles every day in the shower. I have them in my office too and when I need a lift, I head outside to blow a few and watch their iridescence float away.

• The bathtub is a really great place to study, especially if the bathroom door locks and you’re lucky enough to have another so that others can answer nature’s call elsewhere. I studied for many a test during an evening bath. My late night bathing also freed the bathroom up in the morning for other family members.

• Recognize that your stress affects your family and resolve to discover what relaxes you. Take time to be you. Not mom. Not dad. Not student. Not worker. Not spouse. Not partner. Not roommate or friend. Just you. Encourage your family to do the same. Get away from each other. Focus on the things you appreciate about those you encounter. Avoid turning the molehills of others’ irksome behaviors into insurmountable mountains of annoyance.

• Your impatience and irritation with whatever’s stressing you will come out in your voice and will likely trigger hostile responses from those around you. Be aware that your mood can infect others. Be aware of times when you’re spoiling for a fight because of stress and walk away from the temptation of exploding in order to make yourself feel better. You’ll probably just feel worse. Commit to controlling yourself.

More I tomorrow.

What one thing could you do that would make your life less stressful and more enjoyable?

My advice to you is not to enquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate—that’s my philosophy.
• Thornton Wilder,
The Skin of Our Teeth

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