I have noticed lately that we are getting some things very wrong in this country. We live in a society that is a little bit broken. A society that measures our success by how busy and stressed out we are. People here take a certain satisfaction in how little time they have for themselves and wear their stress and busyness as a badge of honor. It is a sickness.
And it is a sickness that we are passing on to our children. Our children look at us running around like chickens with our heads cut off and think this is what life is supposed to be. They subscribe to the notion that if they are not busy at all times in their lives they are failing… not keeping up. That time for themselves is selfish. They think they have to go to the best schools, get the best grades, be in 15 extracurricular activities at a time. The scarcely even take time to consider what is necessary and best for their long-term plan. They start young adding unnecessary stress to their lives because it is what is taught and mirrored to them.
I see this in my kids despite the way we parent and try to put the emphasis on mental health over anything else. Even though we try to limit things somehow my daughter has ended up very overextended this semester. Volunteering, acting classes, school play, and all of the demands of going to school at a private college prep school. Something has got to give. And at times it is her mental health. She is stressed.
She is taking steps to make more healthy choices for her future and decided to share this with her school counselor and to get her input and advice in this process. I applaud this step and this initiative but here’s the thing… The counselor said she could handle the stress, she should just get better coping mechanisms for it. She gave her a lot of great advice and some very helpful tools. While I appreciate this sentiment and the tools she gave my daughter this entire attitude gave me pause. Of course she CAN handle it but why SHOULD she? If she has the ability to make choices that fit in with her future goals and at the same time eliminate stress in her life why should she CHOOSE the way paved with stress?
This is madness. And we do not have to do it. We do not need to teach it to our children. We have the power to change it.
We have the power to make choices to minimize stress in our lives. To make choices to put our mental health and happiness first. To evaluate our lives and make better choices that make us happier. To cut back. To realize that we do not need to keep up with everyone else. This journey of life is different for every single one of us and we need to make choices that are best for us individually. Just because we CAN manage stress doesn’t mean we need to or that we should choose it. We can choose to simplify. We can choose to make changes to eliminate that stress. We can choose happiness. There is so much power in choice.
Change is scary and minimizing our lives takes a lot of change. It can be hard to look that fear straight in the face and get through it to find our happiness. But it is absolutely worth it. There is power in facing our fear to choose to live healthier and happier.
Let’s teach our children to do better. Let’s teach them that they do not need to do it all. Let’s teach them to cut back. Let’s teach them that instead of being proud of all the busyness and stress we should be proud that we somehow manage to find time to sit down at our dinner table and eat as a family nearly every single night. That we have one night a week that is sacred family time and we make it a priority. That anything can be dropped at any time if it serves us in a way that brings us happiness. That stress is a sickness and not some badge of honor. That each of us deserves to be happy and that mental health should always be a priority.
In yoga our guides teach us that our practice is OUR practice. And every single body is different. Don’t worry about how your neighbor is doing. Only pay attention to what is happening on your own mat. We have choices in every pose and we are reminded to choose what serves us in that moment. We could take a lesson from that.
Let’s teach our kiddos to be present, work hard, breathe. And let that shit go. And to never take on more stress than can be handled with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and some Netflix binging on the couch while snuggling with your doggos 😉 Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed and if anyone else tells you differently they are flat out wrong.
Thanks for listening to my rant. Love to all you guys. The unconditional kind ❤