There’s a certain type of person I truly admire. They’re the ones who stay centred and calm in the most stressful of situations. The people who are able to be present and grounded enough to make wise decisions, even in difficult circumstances. The rare few who have the capacity to remain still in the eye of the storm.
I often wonder what sets them apart. Is it an innate quality they were born with or something they’ve learned along the way? My guess is that it’s a mix of both, which gives the rest of us hope. We can learn some of these qualities ourselves.
I believe it begins with a conscious decision to cultivate peace and a mindset of simplifying – or ‘uncomplicating’ – your life.
Here are five ways you can try this yourself.
1. Disconnect from drama
Regardless of what’s going on around you, make a choice to stay calm. When other people start heating up and tension in the room rises, take a few breaths and make an active choice not to engage in drama.
Remember, you don’t need to accept every invitation to argue, you don’t need to be swept up in the storm. In every tense situation, the safer option is not to escalate it.
2. Underthink it
We’re often our own worst enemies when it comes to creating complexity in life. We go backwards and forwards on decisions, we play out every possible scenario in our minds and we heighten worry unnecessarily. (“If I make a mistake, I could get fired. Then I won’t be able to pay my rent and I might be booted out of my apartment.”).
Step back from what’s worrying you and bring yourself back to the current moment. Is there one small positive action step you can take now? If there’s not anything you can do, take a few breaths and remind yourself that nothing in this world is permanent and the only moment that matters is the one you’re living in right now. Be present to it and trust in your capacity to deal with future challenges as they arise.
3. Be honest
There are so many ways we’re not truthful. We don’t let a manager know when we’re not coping, we don’t say “I’m sorry” early enough, we don’t reach out and say, “I can see that you’re struggling” often enough.
Many complex situations can be nipped in the bud by a courageous, open conversation. Be the person who is known for authenticity, which doesn’t mean telling others what is wrong with them but rather, having the integrity to stand up for your values.
4. Do what’s right for you
Give up on trying to please everyone. Listen to what your heart tells you is right. Be ethical, kind, generous and creative, but also have the courage to say ‘no’ every now and then.
Trust your intuition in difficult situations. Pause before responding to new requests. Take your time before finalising big decisions and most of all, do what’s right for you. Self-care is not the same thing as ‘selfish’. When you look after yourself well, you’ll have an abundance of energy to give to others.
5. Be productive, not perfect
In most cases, it’s better to make a start on a project or to get a piece of work off your desk than it is to perfect it. A psychologist colleague of mine told me recently that those of us who suffer self-doubt are usually better than we think we are (and those of us who don’t, are usually worse).
Other people will rarely be as hard on you as you’re being on yourself. Remind yourself that what you’re working on doesn’t need to be perfect but you feel good when you’re being productive.