Sometimes I think our modern life has too many good things.
And a surprising side effect of having many attractive choices is stress.
These days, we probably all know the meaning of the acronyms FOMO and JOMO.**
We have a wealth of entertainment options. Career options. Even dating options.
I think about what my grandmother’s life was like 50 years ago, and her grandmother’s life.
They didn’t have many choices for friends, entertainment, or romantic partners.
They didn’t have career options to speak of.
If they had jam for toast, they probably grew the fruit and canned it themselves.
Going out to eat wasn’t a thing.
Vacations weren’t either, really, except maybe to visit family.
And social media? Not even!
Life was fairly predictable for most people.
That is not the case anymore.
We can reinvent ourselves at any age.
We can travel or even vicariously experience the globe through the resources on the internet.
These days, we often ask ourselves,
“What makes me happy?”
My grandmother probably had a simple answer to the question. I doubt she thought of her life in those terms in the first place.
Stress is the surprising flip side to this abundance of choices and suggestions and access to opportunity.
But…what’s the stress about, really?
Here are a few reasons I see in my coaching sessions:
- Desire: There’s so much for us to desire, from amazing material belongings to opulent experiences to relationships based on connection instead of survival. The list of “things you can long for” seems never ending.
- Comparison: It’s incredibly easy to get a view into our extended family’s life, our neighbor’s vacations, and the inside experience of celebrity. It’s normal for our minds to compare ourselves to the images we see.
- Ease: We expect our modern life to be characterized by ease, peace, prosperity, and health. This is an expectation certainly not found around the world. It’s definitely not the expectation my grandmother or our ancestors had for their lives.
What would you add to that list?
How do you handle the stress that comes from too much of a good thing?
One one hand, it’s wonderful that we live in an era with so much opportunity.
And, yes, I champion having more safety and physical health, even ease, for people everywhere.
At the same time, I think we are wise to notice if we are experiencing too many of these good things.
If you are feeling the stress from too many choices, too much desire, too much comparison, consider the following practices:
- Appreciation and Gratitude: Yes, it’s not a new suggestion, but it’s a good one! Spend time regularly – maybe even daily – connecting with what you appreciate the most in your life and the experiences for which you are most grateful.
- Connect with something larger than yourself: Volunteer. Spend time in nature. Garden. Take care of someone who needs extra support.
- Choose “Now” often: Being present with what is is a powerful antidote to stress. Ask yourself, “What is lacking in this exact moment?” Most of the time, most people have what they need in each individual moment.
- Generosity: This concept can mean many things. Perhaps you can be generous with your kind feedback, with your friendship, and your monetary resources.
This week, notice if you experience stress or anxiety when you want more to be happy. Take note of what you’re thinking that’s creating the stress. Then, with love and kindness, you can perhaps choose something else that brings you into a space of abundance, presence and generosity instead of desire and expectation.
P.S. I invite you to fall in love with the “Less Stress, More Fun” podcast. Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes offer smart, fun ideas to reduce stress and boost your sense of playfulness.
** FOMO = fear of missing out; JOMO = joy of missing out