Dear Tired, Over-Worked, Stressed, Frustrated, Depressed, or Anxious Friend,
I have a letter for you on this Friday afternoon.
If you’re anything like me, most mornings you wake up with quite the array of thoughts coursing through your mind. First, excitement as you remember all the things you are doing, planning and looking forward to in life. Next comes a wave of let-down as you remember all your to-do’s on a list as long as the Amazon. Finally, a mixture of happiness, stress, and acceptance settle in and so you get to work with a hefty dose of gumption and grit. The day turns out fine. It’s busy, but productive. Crazy, yet beautiful.
But then there are other mornings where the excitement doesn’t really happen at all. And the wave of to-do’s is more like a monsoon crashing in. And instead of a good mixture of happiness and stress that brings variety and triumph to a day, there is just a leaded lump of overwhelm that weighs heavy on your heart. It’s at the very moment when you realize that it’s going be “that kind of a day” that you really just want to crawl back in bed and skip the day altogether. But instead, you push yourself through it with all the raw emotions of sadness, frustration, and gloom. You make this choice because you think it’s your only option. I know, because I’ve been there.
But a few summers ago, I found a new choice. It’s kind of like a secret magic trick that’s been there all along and I didn’t even know.
I call it, “Lighthearted Celebration.”
There are only two rules: 1) You have to put aside the to-do list monsoon and commit to not even think about it during the celebration. And 2) There are no “have-to’s” allowed…only things you love.
Basically, you decide to take a small, little break and celebrate your life by doing something light, fun, and joyful. And if you have children at home, bring them along. I’m not going to tell you exactly what to do during your celebration—because the things that bring me joy may be very different than the things you love.
If you feel resistance creeping up in response to this suggestion, it’s normal. I feel it too. Our brains seem to be wired to only accept productivity and high-efficiency tasks. “Work before play” is the motto we live by, and most of the time that’s a very good thing. To work hard and selflessly brings a great satisfaction and inner joy that can come in no other way. But on those days when the sun doesn’t rise in your heart, it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to set aside the to-do list and pick up the to-don’t list. It’s okay to spend some time in an activity that replenishes and nourishes your soul. Give yourself permission to relax.
And I can promise you this: If you refuse to push yourself down the foggy, gloomy road and choose to engage in a lighthearted celebration instead, your day will turn around. Your to-do list will still be there when you get back. And maybe the overwhelm will too, but you will feel centered, at peace, and so much better equipped to meet the rest of your day.
So, when you want to push the reset button, all you need is a lighthearted celebration. It’s as simple and magical as that.