When we recognize our warrior self, we can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness. The human soul is dynamic, adapting readily to the changing conditions we encounter as time marches unerringly forward. Though we may use a single set of characteristics to define ourselves, we slip easily into contradictory roles when circumstances necessitate doing so. When we feel called to explore the way of the warrior, we may feel a strong sense of dismay because we have no wish to disavow ourselves of our softer side. Yet embracing the warrior spirit is not a matter of denying gentleness or compassion -- all human beings embody all traits to some degree, and seemingly contradictory aspects can coexist peacefully within us. We can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness precisely because both are elements of the self and both have a role to play in the complexity of existence. Balance is the key that unlocks the door of peaceable coexistence where opposing characteristics of the self are concerned. The warrior spirit, when allowed free reign, is overpowering and all-consuming. If it is to be an affirmative force in our lives, it must be tempered with wisdom and moderation. Our inner warriors are ready to react instantly to conflict, chaos, and confusion, while nonetheless remaining committed to a path of goodwill and fairness. They lie at the root of our dedication to integrity but do not drive us to use our strength to coerce others into adopting our values. The warrior may be nourished by raw emotions with the potential to cause us to lash out, but it channels that energy into positive and constructive action. Your inner warrior is one source of strength you can draw upon in times of great need. When you employ your warrior spirit thoughtfully, it manifests itself as clarity, focus, determination, courage, constancy, and an unflappable zest for life. The warrior views roadblocks as evolutionary opportunities and is not afraid to pursue a purpose to its climax. There is more than enough room in the existence of the warrior for softness and benevolence, and the warrior's willingness to stand up for their beliefs can aid you greatly as you strive to incorporate these ideals into your existence. Exploring this unique side of yourself is a means of broadening your reality so you can internalize mindfulness while meeting life's challenges with an intensity of spirit that never wavers.
Seeing the world from another perspective can introduce us to all sort of hidden treasures.
The ocean can look very different, depending on whether you are standing at the shore, soaring above in a plane, or swimming beneath its waves. Likewise, a mountain can look very different relative to where you are standing. Each living thing sees the world from its unique vantage point. While from your window you may be seeing what looks like a huge shrub, a bird in its nest is getting an intimate view of that tree’s leafy interior. Meanwhile, a beetle sees only a massive and never-ending tree trunk. Yet all three of you are looking at the same tree.
Just as a shadow that is concealed from one point of view is easily seen from another, it is possible to miss a fantastic view. That is, unless you are willing to see what’s in front of you through different eyes. Seeing the world from another perspective, whether spatially or mentally, can introduce you to all sorts of hidden treasures. The root of the discovery process often lies in finding another way of looking at the world. The common human reaction to insects is one example. Spinning its web in a dark corner, a spider may seem drab, frightening, and mysterious. But seen up close weaving silver snowflakes between the branches of a tree, they can look like colored jewels.
Sometimes, there are experiences in life that from your vantage point may seem confusing, alarming, or worrisome. Or there may be events that look insignificant from where you are standing right now. Try seeing them from another point of view. Bury your face in the grass and look at the world from a bug’s vantage point. Explore your home as if you were a small child. Take a ride in a small aircraft and experience the world from a bird’s eye view. Just as kneeling down sometimes helps you see more closely when you are looking for lost treasure, so can standing back help you appreciate the broader picture of what you are looking at. In doing so, you’ll experience very different worlds.
By Erin Magner.
Think back to your elementary school playground. If it was anything like mine, it was a case study in how to have fun in a pure and free way, completely devoid of any self-conscious thoughts. On the blacktop of my alma mater, a group of gym-class heroes played kickball with World Cup-level intensity. In front of the school, the popular girls jumped rope and practiced their older sisters’ cheerleading routines until their voices were raspy. Yet another adventurous clique would flip and leap from the monkey bars, while across the street, the less athletically inclined kids (AKA me) would lose themselves in some elaborate game of make believe. The through line here is that we were all having joyful, thrilling fun. As I’ve grown up though, the very concept of fun has fallen victim to adulteration, a word whose very definition implies the act of corrupting something to make it impure. Basically, I’m confused about fun: how to do it, what it should feel like, and whether or not it’s even possible for adults.
On the whole, it’s safe to say that when we talk about adult revelry, the mood is usually a bit more… well, serious than it is when watching kids at play. Society has conditioned us to believe that adulthood means “acting your age” and adopting a calmer, more contained demeanor in order to fit in—even when you’re enjoying yourself. It’s hard for many people to break free of that construct (without the aid of a happy hour drink, that is), which is partly why, for me, sitting on my balcony with a good book and a coffee is peak “fun,” even though it probably wouldn’t look that way to many others.
While my reading oasis is restorative and happiness-boosting for me, is it exhilaratingly joyful, the way recess was during playground days? Definitely not. And for many of my peers in their thirties, those moments of really letting loose are few and far between, and when they do come about, it’s tough to stay present in the moment. And, according to mental-health pros, this widespread fun confusion came to be for a number or reasons—none of which are our fault, per se.
All work, no play makes you a millennial adult
Many millennials were raised to value hard work and success over fun and frolic, says therapist Marly Steinman, MFT. “If your parents were Boomers, there was this concept of working hard, having goals, and achieving things,” she says. “There’s a feeling that you have to burn the candle at both ends and work in a way that’s never-ending.” That adds up, because how can you not skew serious when you’re working wild hours to pay off your student loan debt and afford your overpriced rental apartment?
That feeling of always having to strive for something more can prevent a person from letting their guard down fully, which is critical for having fun. “Let’s say you are out with a group of friends, having dinner and catching up,” says therapist Alison Stone, LCSW. “If a large part of your mind is distracted—by the upcoming meeting you have, unreturned emails, a stressful project you’re behind on—it is difficult to be fully present in your current experience.”
When taken to extremes, the physical symptoms of stress and burnout make it even harder to kick back and have fun, says Steinman. If someone is drowning in deadlines and social obligations, their endocrine system dials up the production of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, and it takes time for the body to come back into balance. This is why, even when a person goes on vacation, it sometimes takes a few days before they’re able to truly relax.
Instagram vs. reality, or the paradox of fun
Work obligations aside, there’s another reason the nature of fun changes with age: the fact that many people feel pressure not just to have fun, but to also curate and document it for the world to see. “Before social media came into the picture, the only people who witnessed our free time was ourselves,” Steinman says. “Now, the perception of fun has become more important—it’s about what’s going to look desirable in a post. [When you’re at a big concert,] how many times have you seen more people taking videos of the concert than enjoying the concert?”
“The perception of fun has become more important—it’s about what’s going to look desirable in a post.” —therapist Marly Steinman, MFT
This has led many of us to start equating fun with big-ticket experiences that require money and access—and there’s a subtle misperception that one needs to go big in order to counteract all the stress in their lives. “I think it has started to feel like ‘getting away’ and attending specific events are our rewards for working so hard,” says Stone. “It’s important to have things to look forward to, but it’s also important not to feel that spending money or traveling are the only ways we can unwind and let loose.”
It’s possible to relearn how to have fun
So how does an overworked, Instagram-loving gal get out of her head and just live, already? According to both Steinman and Stone, the first step is to ditch your phone when you’re trying to have fun. That means no checking texts while your date’s in the restroom, no snapping pics of your dinner, and no scrolling through Instagram to see who’s having a more photogenic Saturday night than you. “All of this takes away from what we are supposed to be doing in the moment, which is enjoying others’ company, making new memories, listening to our friends or partners, laughing, joking, observing, people watching, and experiencing small moments of authentic joy and happiness,” says Stone.
If you want to have fun, you should also prioritize the activities that truly bring you joy, and obviously not just what you think is going to look good to other people, says Steinman. She also recommends taking time to decompress with meditation, a workout, or a walk in the fresh air before you embark on any sort of play time. These things will help you release any lingering tension and clear your mind of the day’s stressors so you can be fully present for fun.
Finally, although it may sound counterintuitive, Steinman and Stone both say that deliberately scheduling out downtime can actually make it easier for some personality types to loosen up. “Many people find scheduling to be anxiety-reducing,” Stone says. “You can have fun, and be present and uninhibited as a planner—not everyone is spontaneous.”
Ultimately, having childhood-level fun really just requires you to tap into your childhood self—pre-career and pre-social media. “Think of kids—they’re silly, they have no inhibitions, and they’re not worried about what they look like,” says Steinman. If that’s the case, my upcoming weekend is going to involve lots of friendship-bracelet-making and choreographing dance routines to Paula Abdul songs—how about you?
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”~Jon Kabat-Zinn
Based on a post by Chatsworth Consulting Group
It seems as if many of us are surfing. Not the kind of surfing that first comes to mind – warm weather, big waves, Hawaiian shirts – but surfing nonetheless.
We are facing huge difficulties and issues at work, relentless challenges, one after the other. Like waves crashing upon us. And it seems like we have choices of how to respond. We can fight what’s beating at us, we can give up and go under water, or we can learn to surf.
Life throws things at us. Bosses who think they have to be bossy to be the boss. Colleagues that are not very collegial. Friends and family that need more than we have to give. We can face physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges, all at the same time. And we can either get wiped out by the waves crashing upon us, or we can learn to surf.
For someone, surfing meant that she couldn’t do everything on her to-do list to her usual standards. She took an hour to comb through the list – delegating what she could, dumping what wasn’t absolutely necessary, and doing what she had to, even if she didn’t do her ultimate best.
For someone else, surfing meant recognizing how upset he was at a situation at work, and choosing not to negatively voice his disagreement, as he had done in the past. Instead, he surfed –he felt his anger, noticed what set him off and why, and decided to simply let it go. A great step for him.
Surfing can mean a myriad of responses. What it always means is riding the wave. Getting up on your board, softening your knees so you don’t stand too rigid, and letting the waves take you along for the ride. You certainly will have more success than if you fight it. You might even enjoy it.
How do you surf?