Cautiously optimistic

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There’s been something in the air lately, and for some of us, it might seem a little foreign. Many things about this year have made it less than a favorite for everyone, but as 2017 comes to a close, there’s been this rare phenomenon happening…dare I say it? Are some of us actually hearing…good news?

Yes, it’s true. December causes plenty of anxiety for countless reasons, from overflowing to-do lists to family challenges, but it can also be bearer of good news in form of business school admissions offers, promotions at work, and year-end bonuses. Plus, some of us actually enjoy the time with family and friends this month may allow, or the time off and away from our normal spaces and routines.

I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of people around me who’ve been receiving good news over the past few weeks, and (woohoo!) has it ever been fun. It’s exciting to see truly good things happen to people who deserve them, and it kind of gives me hope for humanity, you know? As I’ve been celebrating their success alongside them, I’ve been reminded of one of our most ingrained tendencies, though.

From our earliest days on this sweet little planet, we have been wired for vigilance. Our survival has depended on our ability to anticipate what’s – literally and figuratively – around the corner. Within moments of avoiding a threat, we are once again scanning the periphery for the next one. It kept us alive. Now, it just keeps us stressed, not to mention disconnected from our joy.

I’ve watched many of my friends on the receiving end of happy news make that shift pretty quickly. Hooray, I got the offer! Now, how am I going to make it work? How will I choose between offers? What about the logistics? What does everyone in my life think about the option (cue: competing opinions)? Argh, this is so stressful!

That’s funny, because five minutes ago, it sounded like a dream come true. Now, your right back to where you were before the news, full of anxiety about controlling what happens next.

Sure, at least some of those questions might be valid. However, what’s with the tendency to shift into them immediately? Why are they necessarily a source of stress? Their entire raison d’être is that something fabulous just happened in your life. This is why we call them “champagne problems,” but really, I encourage a focus on the first half of that phrase. You wouldn’t be trying to figure out how to shift your daily schedule, move across the country, or set a new goal if you hadn’t just hit it big a minute ago. That alone is reason for a toast.

There are opportunities for celebration – big and small – throughout every single day. Fortunately, you practice mindfulness, so your brain is being trained to notice what happens around you, and what happens within you, as you move through the world each day. You will observe when your mind shifts from “yaaaaay!!!” to “uh-oh,” and you can decide if you want to let it do that, or bring it back to the celebration that the actual events of the present moment has made possible.

It’s your choice. Isn’t that awesome? All you have to do is pay attention to yourself. Whatever you had to do to earn that achievement was probably a lot more challenging than that.

So, on that note, here’s to you. You’re pretty amazing, in case you hadn’t noticed.

1 thought on “Cautiously optimistic”

  1. Pingback: “No-Fail” Friday: On to the next | MindfulMBA

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