Learning to be calm: This is how it can be successful in everyday life
Serenity: The word alone sounds so beautifully relaxed; after letting go, allowing, letting loose. just nonchalance. I don’t know about you. Unfortunately, I quickly lose my calm in everyday life – and that upsets me!
I’m standing at the S-Bahn, which is once again 10 minutes late, and I’m loaded. I’m tired of reading the book I packed for the trip. But I know that’s stupid. I might as well consider the ten minutes wasted time. But I don’t. And that’s why I’m angry at myself.
Since I noticed such absurd behavioral patterns in myself, I have been dealing more intensively with the topic of composure. I found that you can actually learn and practice composure. A first, fundamental finding was: Serenity includes two essential facets:
- The ability to make things happen that cannot be changed anyway.
- The ability to savor the present without pondering what was in the past and what – possibly bad – will come later.
Enjoy the present, feel serenity
Both sounds logical and simple. Why is it so difficult to stay calm in everyday life? My theory since I started reading: In our culture, we are strongly performance- and result-oriented. We orient ourselves to the future.
What do I want to achieve? What do I have to do for it? For this we constantly analyze the past: What was good, what was bad, what should I do differently? The here and now hardly features in our reflections. It starts with simple questions like: What am I going to wear tomorrow? Or: What am I doing tonight? There is always a pull forward.
Stress, hustle and bustle, fears, anger and worries are poison for serenity. Equally detrimental: excessive sense of duty, ambition, drive to do justice to and please as many people as possible, and constant comparisons with others.
When will this race finally end, one wonders? The answer: never if you don’t stop it yourself.
So only one thing helps: to actively step on the brakes. learn serenity. I practice all the time. Admittedly with varying degrees of success. There are phases in which my stress level is bearable. Then it is quite easy for me to keep my inner balance. When it all comes crashing down on me, I occasionally give up. Also a form of serenity: simply allowing yourself to be in a bad mood without intensifying it with a bad conscience.
Overall, these 7 steps help me move forward on the path to serenity.
- Choose serenity
- gain distance
- recognize the reality
- Exploring the leeway
- Separate the important from the unimportant
- Learn inner balance
- Learn physical relaxation
1: Choose serenity
“When I’ve done this and that, everything will be better…” Such thoughts are survival aids as soon as something is asked of you that brings you to the edge of your mental or physical strength. According to the motto “close your eyes and through”, you get it over with quickly. But it’s bad when this exceptional mode becomes routine. When you don’t open your eyes again when you reach your destination. In the hope of a more relaxed future, one forgets to make things change. Therefore: Consciously decide that you want to be more relaxed. And don’t stick to the decision, but start implementing it immediately. A piece of paper that you carry around in your wallet or a motivating picture on the smartphone’s lock screen sometimes helps as a reminder.
2: gain distance
When you’re angry, you often spend all your available energy trying to keep your cool. It is therefore natural to ask oneself whether this makes any sense at all. Yes, because venting frustration and anger does not solve a problem. Masters of serenity manage to push aside unproductive feelings and focus on something constructive. How it works? You need distance. It enables a situation to be assessed calmly and thus appropriately.
A few tricks can help: breathe deeply and count to ten. This compensates for an involuntary stress reaction of the body. Without countermeasures, breathing would become shallower when we are upset, nervous or anxious.
If possible, leave the room briefly before reacting without thinking, talking yourself into a rage or sulking. Outside, muscles curl, laugh or scream until you regain your composure.
3: Recognize the reality
When we are stressed, we tend to paint the devil on the wall. To prevent this, the question helps: “Is it really that terrible?” What would your best friend say if you described the situation to her? She would give you good tips that put the bad scenario into perspective. Playing through this frees you from the mental fear loop and puts you on the path to the solution. Letting go is important to learn serenity. While in step 2 (gaining sand) it was the negative feelings that had to be let go, here it is the tendencies to get more and more entangled in negative thoughts.
Another good way to calm down is to play through the situation that is upsetting you. For example, “What if I’m stuck in traffic and I’m late for my date?” There’s a good chance the date will understand—if you’ve tried to send a message about where you are.
4: Explore the scope
In principle, there are only three ways to solve a stressful situation: to change it, to escape from it or to accept it. The problem: You often try for a long time to change something that cannot be changed – preferring other people. On the other hand, we miss many opportunities to improve, for example, in our interest. Be it out of fear, out of convenience or because we don’t even realize that we have an opportunity here. An honest evaluation of the room for maneuver is often the decisive step in breaking free. For example, if you have recognized the unchangeable as such and do not want to end it, but instead consciously accept it, serenity sets in by itself. You no longer have to wear yourself out in battles or suffer from disappointments. If, on the other hand, we take the trouble to change something, it will be easier to do so if we always keep in mind why we are doing it.
5: Separate the important from the unimportant
The colleague gets praise for a suggestion that actually comes from you? That’s not fair. But is it really worth lying up all night thinking about murdering the bully and the boss? When is it worth using your own precious energy? When should you stay calm? It is clear that we have limited resources. If we use them sensibly, we are generally more relaxed. And appear more confident!
Two questions help with the decision: How will I think about it in a year, will I even remember it? And is that really my problem? An example: Your loved one keeps leaving his socks lying around. If you stop picking them up, eventually he’ll have to do it himself.
6: Learn inner balance
Mindfulness is the keyword here. Mindfulness training is recognized as a very useful way to train serenity. So you don’t have to become a Zen Buddhist to be more balanced in life. I described how mindfulness works in everyday life in the article “5 quick relaxation exercises to do at home”. As you can see, the subject of learning to be calm really occupies me.
7: Learn physical relaxation
Going through life calmly is quite difficult when the body is flooded with stress hormones. These put the body on alert – and with it the mind. The best remedy for stress hormones: Exercise, because it boosts the production of stress-relieving hormones. You don’t have to do any strenuous exercise for this. It’s enough to walk 30 minutes a day. The effect is usually noticeable after just a few days: you feel more balanced.
In addition to exercise, regular breaks are important for physical balance. In the deliberately non-working time you gain distance from the stress and become physically calmer. You can find tips for this in the article “Take a break: 4 tricks for quick recovery” here in the blog.
As I said before, you don’t learn composure overnight. Sometimes you make good progress on the path, then it is extremely difficult to walk over longer phases. Another word for serenity is equanimity. Also a wonderful word because it emphasizes the courage that also belongs to composure.
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