Lao Tzu – Philosopher For The Day

I saw this quote this weekend and it made me look up more Lao Tzu quotes. Dude was a smart, huh? Take a second to step back and look at your life differently. This only stuck with me because I’ve been having a lot of anxiety lately. Prior to that, I’d also been having a really hard time sleeping. Of course, the two were related. But here’s the weird part: I have nothing to be anxious about! My life, for the most part, is easy. I don’t say that in a trust fund-having, laying by the pool drinking fruity drinks sort of way. But I say it because my parents are still alive and happy together, my family has no drama and we all love each other, my friends’ only drama is self-inflicted (as opposed to things like illness or crappy luck), I’m not loaded by any means, but can live fairly easily on what I do make, I don’t have a boyfriend or children. And any sickness I have is also self-inflicted by not-great diet or a sedentary job. So, bottom line, I am living the dream.

But I’m anxious.

Why? I think some people are just prone to carry more anxiety. We’re the type A people who have strokes or heart attacks in our thirties. Or the people who worry. About everything. Everything. For example, you open the fridge and start to worry about when you stuck the chicken in there. Do you toss it? If so, if it’s not bad, that’s a huge waste. And why didn’t you eat it before now? What’s the point in buying and cooking in bulk if you’re not going to eat it? Essentially you’re buying a meal twice, because you’re not eating this AND you bought something else. You should have stuck this in the freezer a few days ago.

See? And it’s honestly not really even the money part of it. It’s just a few dollars. But it’s the perfectionist in me that does this self-talk. And it all results in anxiety.

And here’s the funny part: I didn’t even know what anxiety felt like until about four or five months ago.

Back in November my aunt suggested I look into candida in the gut as a possible cause to many of my problems. Carb cravings, fatigue, irritability, etc. And in that process, I ended up taking several natural supplements. One of these was black walnut hull. The first day I took it I was up all night coughing, but the next day I felt EXCELLENT. Like top of the world, deep breaths I’ve never known, excellent. I called my mom and was all, “Get this!” And I thought I had some weird congestion that was keeping me down.

I spent that whole week breathing and enjoying it. Weird, right? Yeah, I know.

Anyway, a few weeks later the “congestion” was back. When I’d take the black walnut hull, it would go away. I was convinced I had some weird chest disease and would die of lung cancer.

Finally I started ignoring it, until one day I felt all panicky and stressed about work and realized THIS “congested” feeling was what I got rid of with the black walnut hull. And it wasn’t actually congestion. It was anxiety, housed in my chest. Once I acknowledged the anxiety feeling, I realized it goes up and down for normal and abnormal reasons. For example, I lay in bed at night, and feel myself get more and more anxious. Why? I have no idea. I’m not even thinking about anything anxiety-causing. On the other hand, I feel a tremendous amount of anxiety increasing throughout the day when I’m at work. I’ve started to meditate for a few minutes – focusing on breathing and releasing that anxiety. Often times stupid stuff at work causes it. Other times, it’s just the day dragging on me.

But, I have noticed that as I acknowledge and try to release the anxiety, I feel and sleep better. It’s definitely a challenge, and I still face insomnia some. But the things I worry about ARE things in the future. I worry about how a project will turn out. I worry about how one decision will affect the future – in fact, I’ve found that it makes me anxious that very few people in my life, especially at work, are able to think beyond a few days. They don’t think long-term, but I’m a long-term thinker. So the avoidance of the future is also a point of anxiety for me.  I worry about what life will be like when I’m older. I worry about things going wrong with my house or my car or someone in my family getting sick. The anxiety almost always comes from worry about the future.

And when I get sad about stuff, it almost always comes from thoughts of the past. Regret about doing or not doing something. Occasionally these regrets cause some anxiety, but mostly just sadness. Of course, some stuff in the past also brings happiness: good memories and funny anecdotes. But often times if you spend too much time in the past, it turns into sadness that those times are in the past.

And truly the only way to avoid this sadness or anxiety is by being in the present. Realizing I have a good life. Realizing there’s no reason to worry about the future, since clearly no one else is!

Here are some other quotes (pulled mostly from this page):

“He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted.”

I think this is true. In many relationships, the person who doesn’t trust is the person who is doing something not trustworthy. Give people more trust, and be someone others trust. If your trust is betrayed, who cares? Learn from it and move on.

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”

I really like this one because my job forces change, and I’ve realized how inept humans are when it comes to adapting to change. It’s funny, really, because everything is constantly changing. Yet, people for the most part resist it. Now, getting past the fear of death? That’s another story.

“He who knows, does not speak. He who speaks, does not know.”

This one relates a lot to work, too. Those who are speaking the loudest in meetings are often times trying to impress someone, or cover up lack of knowledge or ability with loud words. Yet, those who know the most are often sitting quietly, waiting to be asked for their opinions. Sadly, in this world of egos, it’s hard to find a leader who will ask the quiet person’s opinion.

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

I love this one, but it’s definitely the biggest struggle for me. Many people have asked me what I want, most specifically in a mate. But I have found myself lately saying, “I don’t know what I want. I seem to only know what I DON’T want.” And I suppose that makes a good list, but I should probably spend more time quietly considering what I want in general.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning.”

If only those who are hanging on to a no-win situation could read and heed this.

“The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”

This one is funny because this is how I feel about a lot of things. On one hand, there will be more laws broken simply because there are more laws. On the other hand, the more you box people in, expecting them to be what YOU want them to be, the more they’ll rebel. This is how I feel about my home owner’s association (the stupidest thing in the world, by the way). They want to push and push people to be the way they want to be, and this causes those who would normally be “good enough” by the standards of the controlling to simply rebel out of spite. Human beings don’t want to be controlled or told who they are or told they’re not good enough. The more you control, the less happy you are and the less happy everyone is around you. Have a little faith, give a little freedom, and let things happen the way they will. More laws is not the answer.

“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”

This one applies to work, again. But I suppose it applies to all aspects of life. It seems more and more people treat one another with such an uneducated voice. Everyone wants this weird symmetry or thinks their opinion is fact. That said, I should print this out and hang it at my desk.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

I’m not sure the exact intent of this one (I suppose that’s true of all of them), but I feel like this is what happens when you grow up and people want to continue to box you into who you were. I have never understood why the average person doesn’t let those around him or her grow. Is it scary to realize someone is more than the person they were when they were five years old, or ten, or seventeen, or twenty-five? Each day we learn and grow. But often times those who are part of our past don’t let us out of the shells of our past lives. Maybe at one point we were insecure and competitive, but we’ve seen that we don’t like those traits so we’ve tried to overcome them. But when someone who knew you “when” keeps looking back on those things, eventually it’s easy to give up on the transformation. We’re more than who we were. And I think this might be the reason many people “run away” from their roots. It’s not a bad thing to get away, but wouldn’t it be a lot easier if those who loved us also embraced our growth and changes?

And here are a few in picture form:

I know everyone says they don’t care what others think, but this is actually hard to put into play. Of course we all know we shouldn’t care, but in a world of social media, how do you get away from it? Why do we post pictures of the things we accomplish, or talk about the things our children do, or argue over beliefs? Obviously we do care. But learning to let that go, especially when you think of yourself as a prisoner to those you care about impressing or proving wrong, will be in a no-win battle. See to impress yourself. Seek to meet your standards. And stop worrying about those who speak loudly, but un-intelligently.

I think too often we compare what we have to what we think we should have or what others have. If you stop for a second, you realize you already have everything you need. Stop looking for what you’re lacking, and instead appreciate everything around you.

I LOVE this one. Stop running away from everything, and you’ll realize there’s nothing to run from. Often times we’re running from something that will never be realized anyway. I worry about a lot of stuff that will never come to fruition. I am always seeking knowledge, understanding, perspective, but if I’d just stop looking for it, I’d find it on my own. And I’m definitely probably a person who’s running away, but also seeks to be found, which is impossible…

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