Updated: May 19
Have you looked around lately and noticed that a lot of people seem to be trying to escape from life? Whether they are immersed in their social media while their kids try to get their attention, or wallowing in cocktails claiming they have to "unwind" to deal with work stress while the family sits nearby starving for attention. Or maybe they're scarfing down a fifth slice of pizza and root beer even though dinner ended 20 minutes ago? This isn't living, it's escaping. And choosing to escape is choosing to miss out on the joy that life has to offer.
The people who are like this, those who "major in the minor stuff" in life as they say, tend to focus on things that are going wrong. They often can't help it, but it's become a habit for them - focusing on what's wrong. Interestingly, "what's right," is just as easily available for them to focus on, but they're just not good at that, usually because they don't have any real practice. They've been too busy for too many years escaping from the joy, choosing to be numb to the happiness, making excuses to "unwind" or "de-stress" and it's led them down the road to disconnection.
People who find themselves on this road are always surprised at some point. One day they're settling in on the patio on a Friday night with a cocktail and the next minute they look around and the kids are in high school, too busy to watch a movie with them and the walls are talking to them.
If only these stressed out folks took the time to understand that stress comes from making things more important than they really are, they might see that the truly important things in life could actually relieve the stress that they've been trying to escape all along.
Researchers believe that human relationships and touch have been proven to do everything from improve the immune system, increase oxytocin, reduce anxiety, lower cortisol and bolster communication, among others. Begging the question, "Why on earth would you want to escape from this happy, fulfilling path?"
I believe our goal in life is to operate a lot like your car's gas tank - live full, die empty. And the best way to achieve this is to take it one day at a time. Go into each day with a plan to look for the good. Tackle the stress head on with the good. Choose to work through it rather than go around it and run toward those escape routes loaded with social media, alcohol, comfort food or whatever yours may be. Choose to live your life in the thrill of how you might tackle the possibilities of life with the people you love rather than the enemies of fear who could become familiar friends. If your quality of life is going to be determined by the quality of your emotional state, choose to live in the present and positive side and you will live in joy.
Shelli Netko (c) 2007