Stating the obvious one way I can try to relax
Last updated 9/14/2022 at 4:37pm | View PDF
"Right now, it's like this."
I was introduced to this phrase earlier this week while listening to one of the Teacher Talks on the Ten Percent Happier app.
"Duh," you might be saying to yourself. "Of course right now it's like this. How else would it be?"
Or it might have reminded you of another phrase often used to characterize current circumstances: "This too shall pass."
So how is it for you right now?
My right now is Wednesday afternoon, with deadline looming and my anxiety rising over too many things that still must be done before we go to press (like finishing this column!).
This is typical for a Wednesday afternoon, I hate to say. I start off every deadline day with the intention to remain calm. I usually am able to do so until about noon or 1 p.m. Then I feel my shoulders rising and my muscles tightening, along with a mild state of panic setting in. Later, when the paper is done, I beat myself up for letting deadline day get to me, once again.
But now I wonder, after listening to Jay Michaelson share this phrase, which he learned from U.S.-born Thai monk Ajahn Sumedho, if I've been approaching Wednesdays all wrong. Maybe what I should be saying to myself is, "Right now, it's like this."
I can see myself using this phrase in a host of situations.
Say Ainsley comes home from school highly distraught over an incident with a classmate.
"Right now, I have a 13-year-old daughter with strong, unpredictable emotions."
Or I get into an argument about parenting with her father.
"Right now, Dan and I disagree on how to approach this particular challenge."
Or someone asks me to fill a volunteer post I'm not sure I'm ready take on.
"Right now, I'm conflicted about my desire to serve."
And then what do I do?
Just sit with these feelings. I don't have to push them away. I can stop judging the situation or spinning off into a long narrative about the many ways in which I am either A) a victim or B) inadequate.
I can just recognize, as Michaelson notes, the wisdom of what happens to be my favorite song by my favorite band - "You can't always get what you want."
Michaelson said repeating this phrase doesn't mean the situation is OK or you are OK with the situation, but there is a deep level of acceptance inherent in these words. It's accepting that, as much as I sometimes hate to hear this phrase, "it is what it is."
Of course people rarely say the above when things are going really great. Michaelson reminds us that both phrases apply to life's sweeter experiences as well. It's easy to let these go by unnoticed. Instead, I could pause and think, "Right now, things are really great."
The phrase has the potential to help us relax.
"Just dropping the effort to grab onto what's happening or reject what's happening feels good," Michaelson notes. "It's not quite a hammock on the beach in Bermuda, but it is a little vacation nonetheless."
So right now, I'm going to practice following Michaelson's recommendations. I could use a little vacation from deadlines.
- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].