“Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy.” ~ Lao Tzu
Even if it is, at times, troubling, it remains a small world. My friend Chris, who is Dutch yet lives in Taiwan, emailed yesterday with a piece entitled, “We All Need a Tree!” He added that “maybe I was a tree.” I took his comment as a compliment. 🙂
The essence of his (below) piece is clear and simple: We need to be aware of people and events that trouble us. And that we can benefit by finding ways in which to detach from problems and worries. They create unnecessary stress and we know too well the ramifications of chronic stress.
To refresh your memory, trouble is defined as: as state of distress, difficulty, or need. A difficult circumstance or situation. Effort, especially when inconvenient or bothersome. A condition of pain, disease, or malfunction. It can also be your boss, a teenager, or an in-law.
Family references aside, did you read anything appealing or inviting in that definition? Anything you genuinely want? I thought not. So let’s introduce Chris’s email piece, reflect on it for a moment, and then explore how you can live with less troubles.
We All Need a Tree!
I hired a plumber to help me restore an old farmhouse, and after he had just finished a rough first day on the job, a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric drill quit and his ancient one ton truck refused to start.
While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family.
As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.
When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.
Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me.
I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.
‘Oh, that’s my trouble tree,’ he replied, ‘I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing’s for sure, those troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children.
So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home, and ask God to take care of them. Then in the morning I pick them up again.’
‘Funny thing is,’ he smiled,’ when I come out in the morning to pick ’em up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.’
For your consideration, here are five ways to mitigate trouble in your life:
Talk less. Pay attention to what happens to your energy when you talk less, and how much happier you feel as you conserve energy. Appreciate the simple intimacy of your relationships as your heart-centered listening frees you of complications and unwanted dramas.
- Simplify your schedule. Reduce the number of commitments in your life to just the essential ones. Learn to say no to the rest. Schedule only a few important things each day and put space between them.
- Turn off the TV. Use your time more mindfully. Read, walk, meet friends. Use your time to connect to others and yourself.
- Do something calming. Take a nap, or a bath. Do housework or yard work (yes, some people are actually calmed by these activities). Find your own calming activity and yes, spontaneous and wild also count.
- Focus on simple truths. Keeping your focus on the simplest things offers an immediate experience of relaxation and joy. Embracing simplicity can fill you (and your day or evening) with freedom and lightness.
Perhaps you can be a tree. A trouble tree for yourself and others.