She looked at me like she had known me all her life. It was about a few weeks ago. I was sitting on a park bench after one of my morning runs.
All of a sudden, I felt eyes on me.
As I turned my head towards the bench next to me, I saw her.
It was a jolly little Golden Retriever, barely bigger than a hotdog.
She slipped out of her unusually attractive owner’s hands like she was made out of butter and ran over to me, making the most of her tiny feet.
Upon reaching my side, she sat calmly looking up at me with her cold helium eyes — as if asking for permission before jumping at me.
As I touched her head, brushing against her soft fur, she started wagging her tail eagerly and wrapped her arms around my leg, refusing to let go.
It was a beautiful moment.
I hadn’t been so happy in months.
Two months back, there had been a death in the family. It was my grandmom. Even in her 80s, she was the bedrock of our middle-class Indian joint family. So her passing has dealt a heavy blow to us.
And it is not just the grief. Seeing our oldest companion go had me worried about my aging parents as well. In fact, four days later her death, I had to return to the same hospital. This time, for my mother.
As a result, despite doing reasonably well, I was intimidated by how fast the time was passing.
I would either stress about future scenarios or blame myself for the time I had wasted already. I was in a constant loop of wanting to do more but falling too tired to keep up.
But it all changed in a moment.
As the dog kept showering me with free love and her cute owner kept trying to get her off me, I felt something. Even though there was a leash around her neck, the silly little goofball was far freer than me.
She wasn’t worried about the past or the future. She was enjoying the present moment, creating her own happiness by licking a total stranger.
So I thought to myself, “Why don’t I try the same on her owner?”
Then I thought better of it and talked myself out. Otherwise, it would land me jail time, or my girlfriend would send me to my grandmom.
So here’s what I did instead.
Accept This Sooner Rather Than Later
We don’t control our circumstances. And it’s about goddamn time that we quit pretending as we did.
Even if you did everything right from the moment you were born you couldn’t control the actions and decisions of others or the various external circumstances that can impact your life.
As one old emperor once said:
That’s exactly why blaming yourself for things beyond your control is not only unfair but also harmful to your mental health. On the contrary, accepting that we are not in control of everything can be a transformative experience.
It’s because when you stop bothering yourself over issues you can’t solve, you find better solutions to problems you can solve.
You Can’t Have It All
Of course, not all our distresses comes from our external circumstances being total jerks to our desires. We create many of them ourselves.
For example, not knowing what you want from your life can be a good source of misery. Likewise, having goals that don’t align with each other can do the job too.
I mean, if I want to be a high-paying lawyer in NY, it’s doable. But if at the same time, I crave the comfort and coziness of being with my family here in India, that would be in contradiction with my first intention.
(At least until they invent those portable teleporting machines.)
So when you set too many contradictory intentions, you are indeed setting yourself up to fail.
Even if you manage to get one goal (which is highly unlikely without a clear direction), you will still blame yourself for losing ten more.
So you better make the hard calls now: choose what matters to you the most, and let everything else go.
Use This Technique To Slow Down Time
I learned this one from the book Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks. It’s called “homework for life.” And it has changed my life.
Remember the story I told you earlier about the goofy little puppy that saved me from low-level depression in under five minutes?
What if I had forgotten about it in a few days?
Would it leave such a positive impact on me?
There are countless such moments. You and I both live through them. Yet we rarely pay attention to them. If we did, it would have changed how we look at our lives.
Here’s how to capture those tiny moments using a 5-minute daily exercise. Every night before bed:
- Ask yourself, “What makes this day different from the previous day?” “What is the one five-minute story that you can get out of this day?”
- Don’t worry. You don’t have to write the whole thing down. Just write a single sentence. Or a few of them.
For example, to document that story I wrote: “Tiny golden retriever at the park with the hot lady.”
In Matthew Dicks own words:
By doing this everyday, by doing my homework suddenly things have slowed down for me.
Take a Break As It Starts
When you feel yourself sleeping back into revisiting a traumatic experience or stressing about something unnecessary, be brave enough to give yourself a break.
Go cook something for yourself, watch Stranger Things, take a warm shower, go to sleep, kick your neighbor in the balls, or rob your little sister.
Sometimes, being a little goofy is all you need. It’s suffocating when someone takes themselves too seriously to enjoy the absurdities of their own existence.
Whenever I see dark clouds looming over my head, I call up my girlfriend even if she is busy, and make fun of her height. It has been working wonders so far.
Go Ahead & Touch Yourself
in your ears. Okay, I have already written a whole article on it. It’s not my fault if you are too lazy to follow and subscribe. See, there’s a dilemma with taking frivolous breaks every time you feel heavy.
It looks something like this:
- When you feel like you can’t take a break is when you need a break the most.
- But if you start taking breaks whenever you feel stressed: you won’t get anything done.
That’s when massaging your ears can help you unwind from all the stress. As your ears have all sorts of nerve openings, massaging them can help you relax instantly.
There’s a piece of good news and bad news. The good news is you don’t have to make all the changes at once. Take your time and take one step at a time.
The bad news is I have no idea how to end this one. So, bye.