Weekly Gems from Ronda Gates.
One of the currently more popular lectures I deliver is STRESS: A HUMOROUS PERSPECTIVE ON A SERIOUS SUBJECT. That ten-year old presentation continues to evolve as more and more stressors are added to our daily life. In addition to dealing with the unavoidable-the threat of terror, our country at war, family struggles (raising a teenager is like nailing jello to a tree), I'm increasingly aware of other stressors that impact my penchant for privacy but are part of daily life. Let me share some examples.
Today I received 171 emails. The filter on my email program extracted 152 of these to my junk mailbox where a quick review revealed that the majority were for drugs to "improve sexual function," offers to buy "controlled substances by mail without a prescription", invitations to visit web sites hosted by "beautiful Rene, sexy Suzy, limber Lucy and more. There were opportunities to make money in the casino industry, to generate an extraordinary return on an investment if I would send cash to individuals who were trying to free their cash in the US, offers for low mortgage rates, pirated software, free vacations and Rolex watches. I wanted to yell, "Leave me alone. I didn't ask for this information."
Cell phones are another externally generated stressor. I find it stunning that people loudly share private information publicly by chatting up friends, lovers, relatives and business associates anytime their phone chimes. It's possible the swan song on my travel to speak at conferences will be the addition of cell phone reception in airplanes-the one place I feel able to have some quiet time when I'm surrounded by many people.
These are external stressors over which we have little control. However, most of us also struggle with internally generated stress. In short, without vigilance on some level my ego can be hard at work generating all manner of thoughts that I would never say to anyone else. "Those pants are too tight," "you could have been more patient," "overeating again?" At the risk of offending any readers I'm now able to manage these conversations with humor by attributing them to my "itty bitty shitty committee." It's clear to me that the slogan, "Get off my back" is as useful when expressed to that inner critic as it is if someone is verbally abusing me. Another useful strategy to counter that inner voice that says "You can't avoid overeating," is the the powerful three-word phrase, "up until now."
Researches are documenting the power of laughter to limit stress and heal. I was reminded of this when, at a stressful time this week I tapped into my own kit of STRESSBUSTERS and went to see SIDEWAYS, a film that tickled my funny bone so hard my jaws ached. I left the movie feeling better and wondering when growing up signaled a demand to stop having fun. Humor is a powerful tool for people who cope well under pressure. If you can take yourself lightly while taking your responsibility seriously you will carry a sense of joy and being alive in a world constantly transformed by change. Email and cell phones notwithstanding, I'm arming myself for the year ahead.
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