I don’t know about you, but my brain is the epitome of chaos and I genuinely don’t think you could handle being inside my head for any length of time. I say that as a precursor to this post, because I am going to let my brain loose on you in this post. I want to do many things all at one time and no, I’m not talking about multitasking. I will come across an article about capsule wardrobes and, because it ends up elevating my interest level, I start off on a rabbit trail and try to find out as much information about it as possible. At the end of the week, as I am overhearing someone talking about how they have their digital storage system set up, I am already a self-proclaimed expert in how to create and benefit from a simplistic wardrobe and now I’m completely rethinking how my family stores our digital life and wondering if I have the equipment to make that change and improve our setup.
By the time that thought has exhausted itself in my head long enough to find something else to think about, I’m energized by how I can constantly tweak little things in my life in order to make major positive changes to how I feel and also how I do things in my normal day-to-day. This all comes about because I caught myself reminiscing about the type of person I was fifteen years ago and the realization presented itself that I had never been all that concerned about efficiency or design or anything else remotely resembling the act of living life intentionally. Like I said, I’m letting my brain loose here, so I may wind up way out in left field by the time this is all written, but hear me when I say that I truly believe it is of utmost importance that we pay very close attention to things in our life that are such mundane habits and routines and know that slight changes to the way we approach these tasks can be the difference between stressful and stress-free lives.
Going back to my first example about capsule wardrobes, it dawned on me just how easily frustrated I become most days when it comes to picking what to wear. As you’ll discover in my book when it comes out, I had many times in my life battled with self-esteem as it relates to having my own style and, even to this day, I still don’t have it figured out. I would’ve never admitted it back then, but I oftentimes resorted to “copying” something fashion-related from someone I knew in order to summon the inspiration for how I wanted to look. Before you begin to pre-assume based on the title of this post that I’m strictly talking about superficial things like my clothes, I want to stress that I am only using this example as a tangible personification of many other, sometimes more important issues we face in our lives. Yes, a close friend from high school at one point grew his hair out to his shoulders and that gave me a subconscious sense of permission that it was okay to explore that same hairstyle myself. During this time, I had many people that saw that decision of mine as a “copycat” move because this friend was someone that I greatly admired and was a bonafide leader in our circle of friends, but what these other people weren’t aware of was the fact that I had actually wanted to grow my hair out long before I even met my friend. My cousin had done it years ago and he was always someone I looked up to, so that is where the thought had originally began.
This cousin of mine had also introduced me to my love for playing drums and for the Dave Matthews Band, among other things. These were all interests that would later develop into passions that I pursued on my own. It seems to me, as I look back on these memories, that I was just someone who had not yet developed my ability to really think outside the box on my own and come up with these ways to form my own identity and be who I truly want to be as a person. Up until the past six or seven years, I really had not discovered my own way of doing things or figured out what it means to take the time to find what truly makes me happy. Meeting Hannah when I did was one of the catalysts for me to really start seeing the world through a new set of eyes. Following her encouragement to make the big move out of my hometown into a much bigger city was one of the biggest steps I’ve taken to taking this paradigm shift and really running with it on my ownIt was in this season of my life that I truly began to find myself and to have an identity that wasn’t solely dependent on someone else’s lead.
Lately , I have struggled with my wardrobe because , as Hannah likes to remind me that I always spend Christmas and birthday money on electronics instead of clothes, that I have amassed a closet full of stuff I don’t like to wear. I see now that I have to wear what makes me comfortable and happy, otherwise I will do what I’ve always done and stand in front of my closet for unnecessarily long periods of time trying to decide which horrendous outfit I have to wear that day. It took me making the decision to do an extreme purge of all but a small fraction of my clothes and finding a good deal on Amazon for a set of black t-shirts, white V-neck “undershirts” and a couple of pair of jeans to start the journey towards being happy with what I have in my closet. Since I have done this, and it’s a process that is not yet finished, I have already noticed a significant reduction in my stress as I start each day.
The same can be said about a number of other things in our daily lives and I challenge you to really take the time to stop and evaluate some of the nit-picky things you do and the effect that it has on you. If it causes you stress, then do something about it. Part of being successful in life is finding the things that make you truly happy and eliminating the things that don’t. For many of you, I can read your mind right now and I hear you saying that stress is just a fact of life, but is it really? Yes, we will all encounter things that cause us stress from time to time, but it really boils down to the question of “what are you going to do about that stress?”
You have the opportunity to take a step back right now and just simply look around you. You know the things in your life that are recurring causes of stress and you are also aware of the fact that you will likely not make it through a single day without at least one thing causing you to get upset or frustrated that is outside of your direct ability to control. Even though you can’t control what other people do or say, that doesn’t restrict you from finding ways to detour around those situations if you can try and become a little bit more aware of the common circumstances that typically lead up to a stressful moment.
Like I warned in the beginning of this post, I did end up off topic, but just know that part of finding yourself and your true identity is in part dependent upon you reducing stress points in your life so that you can be free to see through a new set of eyes and begin to discover ways in which you can be true to what it is that you stand for and how you want to live your life. It’s not simply a matter of changing your wardrobe or waking up an hour earlier so that you can allow yourself more time in the morning to get done what you need to accomplish. It’s more about taking the time to pause every so often and reflect on where you’ve come from, where you’re at, and ultimately, where you want to be. For me, thus far, it has been a little bit more focused at the time on evaluating how I feel about myself as a person. As a husband, a father, a brother, a friend. After much thought and prayer, a first step for me was to say that I’m going to not buy the new iPhone, but instead buy new clothes. I am not going to call and hang out with that “friend” that always makes me feel like I’m not successful enough (not that that friend does it on purpose, but I let that lie sink into my subconscious because I let it bother me that he has a nice, new car and a bigger house and better job).