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Life: Choose Your Own Adventure

Life: Choose Your Own Adventure

Do you ever feel like you’re taking life too seriously?

Every decision feels like it’s life or death. The smallest hiccups feel like the end of the world. You worry about unanswered questions. You’re so caught up in finding your passion and living your dream that daily life is a worrisome struggle.

Yep, I’ve been there. I’ve also found a fun way to lighten things up.

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Remember those old choose-your-own-adventure books? “X” would happen, and at the end of the passage, you’d have to decide what to do. If you pick “Y”, go to page 5; for “Z”, go to page 14.

What if you saw life as a “choose your own adventure” book?

You would:

  • Step away from the seriousness. When you frame life as an adventure book, it looks a little less intense. It takes some of the pressure off and allows you to lighten up – it’s an adventure, after all!
  • Gain perspective and clarity. When you’re in the midst of decision-making, it’s easy to lose perspective and clarity. This method helps you find it again. It gives you a bit of distance – just enough to make things a little less fear-driven and a lot clearer. It allows you to take a good look and ask yourself: What could happen if I did X? Y? Often, it’s a choice between action and no action. What could happen if I took that art class? What if I didn’t? Fear-based responses can keep you stuck: “I might hate it. The other students might be mean. Maybe it’s not my thing.” But with a little perspective, you’re better able to see the bright side: “I could discover a new passion. It might be fun. I could make new friends.”
  • Relax into uncertainty. Decision making sucks largely because you don’t know what’s going to happen. And as humans, we hate that. But with a choose-your-own adventure book, the unknown future doesn’t keep you from turning the page. If anything, you decide and move forward faster because you want to see what happens next. Let this be your life. Relax into the not-knowing and make decisions based on what feels right to you now, not fear of the unknown.
  • Let go of the idea of “right decisions.” Some decisions are better for you, certainly: those that are aligned with your values and authentic self. But even if you make a decision that’s not the best, is it wrong? I don’t think there are “right” and “wrong” decisions. Yes, some are better, but they’re all on your path. Because by making that decision, you’re choosing to make it part of your experience. You can still learn and grow. So let go of fear of making the “right” decision. Anything you choose is on your path.
  • Have more fun. Often, we see our lives as serious, scary tests. Only #2 pencils, desks cleared and no looking around the room. That’s why framing life as a choose-your-own adventure book works so well. Because just by having the word “adventure” in there, it’s gearing you up for more boldness and fun. So next time you face a decision, ask yourself: This is my adventure. What do I choose?

I know, life is a bit more complicated than a book. If you make a choice you’re not happy with, you can’t go back and choose again. But you can do the next best thing and choose differently at the next junction (which can be as soon as the next moment, if you decide).

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Recently, I was on page 24 and faced with a choice: Take a ballet class, which I’ve been wanting to do since I was a kid (turn to page 48); or stay comfortable within my limits (page 31).

Briefly, those limiting beliefs fluttered through my mind: “Will this be a waste of money? What if I hate it?”

But I chose the “lighten up” mentality, shook off the doubts and turned to page 48.

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I’m a couple of classes in, and so far my fears have gone unanswered. The class is a blast, I don’t miss the money and I’ve reaffirmed my decision to relax and let more fun into my life.

Is there an adventure you’ve been putting off? A choice you’ve been afraid to make?

What’s the worst-case-scenario here? Maybe you’ll hate what happens and regret your choice. Totally valid option.

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But what’s the alternative? Staying stuck on page 1, frozen with fear? And who knows – maybe you’ll love what you find on the next page. You won’t know until you turn.

It’s your adventure. What do you choose?

Featured photo credit:  Cyclist on the top of a hill via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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