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How to Feel Better About Almost Anything

Aug 17, 2007
"Sitting around is stressful."

I heard someone say that the other day, and I laughed. Everything stresses people out these days, I thought. But then I gave it a little consideration, and I agreed that few things are as stressful as doing nothing.

Here is an example: Think about the familiar inner debate about whether you can fit in a workout. You know how good you will feel afterwards. You know how much your body wants it. Needs it.

I know I need a good run when my head starts feeling fuzzy. Thoughts come and go, but there is nothing important going on up there. I know what I could do to make the blurriness go away, but I just do not want to.

It is like trying to find something without my glasses on. I know what I could do to make it better. I know the solution is really simple, but it is somehow too much. I do not want to go get my glasses. I would rather bump around the world for a while.

And when I finally break free of that and go do something, there comes the clarity. The drama of it always strikes me. It rushes in like I have opened the drapes.

Once I am running or biking or doing whatever it is I decide to do, really hard, the sheer joy of movement breaks me out of that fuzzy, stagnant state of mind. I feel the hair flopping on my head. My heartbeat in my face. Something comes in and sweeps out my head, and I look back to the blurry world of 30 minutes before, and I thank God I found the motivation.

When you get your body moving, you suddenly become clear on what needs to be done. All at once, fresh ideas and a renewed energy and creativity tumble in.

The Antidote to Anxiety

We have heard it again and again in the days since September 11th. The antidote to anxiety is some kind of action. When we feel scared or worried, we have got to get up and regain control, even if it feels like too much at first. We have to disarm the paralyzing nature of fear by doing something. Anything.

If we can just get moving, we will find the energy to help those in need. We will connect to something larger than ourselves, and then we will tap its energy.

It does not have to be a big world sweeping movement. In Seat of the Soul, Gary Zukav says it well: "If you wish the world to become loving and compassionate, become loving and compassionate yourself. If you wish to diminish fear in the world, diminish your own. These are the gifts you can give."

It is simple, but you have got to be the one to get up and deliver the gift. Tell a friend how much you appreciate her. Pray, however you define it. Be kind. Volunteer. Find a problem that you want to help solve; do an Internet search for ways you can help.

I hear a lot about the importance of taking "baby steps." Each time I hear that phrase I think of my oldest daughter learning to walk. She was so bowlegged that, standing, she looked like she was attempting the splits. Every few steps, she would topple over and, seconds later, up would come her little bottom and she would push up with her hands, lean forward and try to keep her feet moving as fast as her head. Her determination was inspiring.

To me, baby steps are about breaking something big into manageable chunks, but it is also about the will to just keep moving, no matter what.

And that brings to mind my high school English teacher, Mrs. Wasserstein. There are two things I remember about her: lots of clumpy black mascara and a writing tip on which I have based a career.

She offered the revolutionary idea that you can erase what you start with. The key is to just get started, and, once you get in the groove, the product is usually pretty good.

She must have gotten along well with my Algebra teacher, who once scrawled on his classroom wall with a red Sharpie, "Do not just sit there like you are getting a perm. Do something. Even it is wrong."

Granted, he was no Gary Zukav, but there is some wisdom there.

To feel better about anything at all, take a tip from a tot. Lean your head forward and try to keep up with your feet.
About the Author
Susie Cortright is the founder of several popular websites, including Susies-Coupons.com, BestSelfHelp.com and Momscape.com, where you can register to win gift cards from top online merchants.
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