"The strongest oak tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun." Napolean Hill
So many people have felt the slumping economy's pinch. Being a yoga teacher in the world of wellness, I thought I just might be immune. After all, everyone needs a little relaxation especially in stressful times. But after my most recent yoga retreat was slow to sell and some of my yoga workshops have drawn far less attendees, I am also feeling the pinch. Like so many Americans, I'm much more careful about what to spend and when to spend it.
A few years ago, I might have jumped at buying the new car, now I'm adamant about waiting for better times. A few years ago, I might have jumped at the California Roll when visiting the local sushi spot, now I'm adamant about sticking to Edamame and water. A few years ago, I might have jumped at a Snickers bar in the candy store, now I'm adamant about sticking to one gumball. A few years ago, I might have indulged in roses for my girlfriend, now I'm adamant about picking some grass in the garden and wrapping it in a bow. Yes you might think I'm a cheap ass. But I feel that I'm just being smart in today's economy.
Either way, I'd like to recommend how you can remain positive in these trying times. The following advice doesn't involve switching to gumballs and edamame. Rather, I'd like to share some suggestions on how to embrace simple pleasures and creative ideas for making this year one of the best years ever (in spite of the economy!):
1. Now is the time to enjoy simple pleasures
"I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free." George Strait
I recall reading a book by the famous scholar Joseph Campbell who was a young man during the Great Depression. Like most people during the Depression, Campbell was unable to find a job and took advantage of the down period to travel to Woodstock for five years of "intensive study of the imagination." During these five years, Campbell met author John Steinbeck, writer and speaker Krishnamurti, and the first true nutritionist, Adelle Davis. He credits the years of the Great Depression as being some of the most interesting and most memorable years of his life. Especially if you are a young person with less responsibility, now is the time to move away from the fancy shopping expedition and toward the beautiful weekend bike ride or an evening with a glass of wine underneath the full moon. It may be tough to refrain from making those ever-addictive credit card purchases; but the memories that accompany simple pleasures are the most beautiful and the most enduring.
2. Now is the time to be creative
"Children don't need your presents. They need your presence." Anonymous
If you have lots of responsibilities which are especially burdensome during a bad economy, think differently. Instead of taking the family to the baseball game and spending hundreds of dollars on tickets, gas, and food, I recommend a more creative approach. Make an event of the baseball game. In your own yard, have a pre-game barbecue with ballpark hot dogs. Set the tone with a cooler of refreshing drinks. And when the game comes on TV, make it a special event. Prepare some mid-game snacks just like you'd find at the ballpark, wear your team gear, sing the 7th inning stretch, play catch between innings. Children love seeing excited parents; and parents get a charge from their excited children. If there is love and great energy in a household, what more could anyone want? As a wise one said, "In bringing up children, spend on them half as much money and twice as much time."
3. Now is the time to strengthen your mind
"I have not and never did have any motive of poetry but to achieve clarity." -George Oppen
Often in times of stress, the mind is the first thing to weaken. It's normal. Your bills are higher, gas is out the roof, airline tickets cost a small fortune; but you're making less money and your spouse is out of work. How could you not go crazy? It's called mental strength. No matter how stressed you are, it's important that your mind is the last thing to weaken.
In times of economic pressure, strive to maintain a clear, strong mind. You will make better decisions, cultivate vision for the long-term, and sustain an upbeat attitude that positively affects those around you. Clearing the mental clutter and building mental strength is easier than you think. The trick is embracing the things you love most in life (chocolate, wine, music) and turning them into rituals. Make sure to carve out a few sacred minutes in your day to truly enjoy a glass of wine, or indulge a delicious chocolate, or kick back on the couch and be swept up by your favorite song.
So many people right now feel stress, pressure, and struggle. Your state of mind will determine whether these trying times make you stronger…or weaker. As Victor Frankl said, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances - to choose one's own way."
by David Romanelli (Yeah Dave)
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