The Joy in Saying “No”.

I wasn’t planning on writing a post today but this topic has been on my mind lately and I felt inspired to share…

Most of us are constantly on the move. Up early to get ready for work, scarfing down some cereal or a granola bar while we get our shoes on, grab our cell phones and haphazardly pierce our ear with the hoop that had been dangling on our sweater (does this only happen to me?) After hours of work (sometimes mind-numbing, sometimes excruciatingly difficult), we might be lucky enough to quickly eat some lunch (if not spending the entire break catching up on other work) before running right back to the daily grind.

Fast forward to rushing home (many times via a crowded, stressful and time-sucking commute), trying to balance pots of hot food, and chowing down on dinner before starting chores/errands/homework/work brought home.

It is amazing that more people don’t die from physical and/or emotional exhaustion. As many of you know, I could talk all day about how capitalism is literally killing us, the planet and the future of our collective happiness. But for today, I wanted to share what has personally made me feel like a less stressed, more relaxed and happier person.

Ready for it?

JUST. SAY. NO.

The blogging world is an inspirational one, filled with recipes, goal-sharing and stories of multi-tasking, awesome folks that live life to the fullest! It can also be a stressful world, making you feel pressured to do a million things at once, go on amazing adventures everyday and still have time to make a three-course vegan dinner. Eep.

It is easy to forget that doing too much is actually a bad thing, not a source of joy. Capitalism has robbed us of what it really means to be “productive”, “successful”, and “happy” (which I plan to discuss in a later post).

We need to re-claim our sanity, our health and our lives. And one of the first steps is learning when to say no.

I listened to a great talk by Danielle LaPorte on the World’s Biggest Summit last week and something she said really stuck with me. She suggested throwing away those to-do lists and start making to-not-do ones. I don’t think I am ready to give up my highly organized, sometimes spreadsheet-ed to-do lists just yet, but saying “no” more often is something I want to try.

I thought of all the things I would like to say “no” to. Some were things that I can’t get rid of right now (paying our rent, working while in school and being continually poor). But some were quite fluid, with some room for change (not having enough time with my husband, not giving myself enough care, spending too much time inside and attending unnecessary social obligations).

I began to envision these problems fading away (and maybe even dissolving completely!) and I felt better already. Not enough time with my husband? I will schedule “couple’s time” throughout the week; no chores, no work. Not enough self-care in my life? I will plan pampering activities that make me happy (such as painting my nails, dancing to some great tunes in my underwear and taking myself on a coffee date). Needing some more time outside? I will re-instate our after-dinner walks (which are strongly recommended in Ayurveda – double win!) and spend some time on the weekends reading by the redwoods. Social obligations that feel too stressful? I will decline invitations that make me feel anxious and remember that good friends will understand I need more time for myself.

So there you have it, I saw exactly what I needed to do in order to feel more joyful. I was raised to always take care of others, to never say no and to make sure I was never, ever being impolite so this journey is not an easy one for me. But it is super important that I learn to make more time for myself, lean more toward joy and less toward sadness and (as Davidji always says) “let go what no longer serves us.”

Today I was supposed to go to a regional conference on Marxism. The tickets were already bought and I was expected to be there. In addition, my dear friend wanted me to go see The Black Power Mixtape with her (which, by the way, looks awesome!) As much as I wanted to do both of these things (and keep being busy + productive), I knew I shouldn’t. I started getting sick yesterday, my body holding out until my stressful week was over until finally sucummbing to a cold.

The old me would have felt bad about cancelling plans, pushed on through with a 10-hour Saturday and gotten even more sick by Monday. But you know what? This time I said no. I told my friend + my husband that I wouldn’t be leaving the house today.

 

And most importantly, I gave myself permission.

Permission to watch a Roseanne marathon (she is my working-class tv hero!)

Permission to take a nap after breakfast

Permission to drink lots of white tea (go antioxidants!)

Permission to cuddle with my kitty and have cat-lady conversations with her

Permission to listen to a lecture while giving my face (and sinuses) a lovely peppermint steam.

Permission to not answer the phone

Permission to be grumpy, and to be alright with that

and

Permission to enjoy the moment, just for what is was

 

I cannot stress to you how much this recharged my body + soul. Although I am still not feeling well, the compassion + love I gave myself today filled me with the most comforting, heart-warming joy.

So next time you are feeling stressed, sad or depleted…

Ask yourself, what can you say “no” to?

 

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” – Chinese proverb

 

 

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we’ve got company: stress and how to stop it

hello readers!

today we have a guest post from reginald, author of the blog speeches no one will ever hear. it is a discussion on the national geographic documentary “stress: portrait of a killer” and what the long and short term goals should be for our society in order to decrease stress and increase happiness. hope you enjoy!

 

The Bourgeoisie is Stressing Me! Capitalism and Health

 

Stress is a constant part of our day-to-day lives under capitalism.
Normally, stress is seen as a nuisance at best, or as a cause of minor
health problems at worst. But as National Geographic’s “Stress:
Portrait of a Killer” shows, it is not only a hindrance to people’s
health, but it can also be deadly. This information, in it of itself
makes this hour-long documentary worth seeing. But what makes the
documentary unique is that it goes deeper into a fundamental, but
often overlooked question: “why are so many people so stressed out in
the first place?”

The answer comes from two award winning studies about baboons and
humans. One was a study by the US professor Robert Sapolsky, who
traveled to Kenya to study the stress levels of baboons. In this
study, he found that the dominant, alpha male baboons lived longer and
healthier lives than the subordinate baboons within the group. As the
documentary explains, the dominant baboons had the hierarchical
authority to abuse their lower ranking counter-parts at will, as well
as had greater access to shares of food and sexual partners. The
subordinate baboons had higher stress levels attributed to the
constant violence and vigilance they experienced, as well as their
lower access to food and sexual partners.

To put it another way, the dominant baboons had greater control over
their circumstances while the subordinate baboons had less.

This research was quite astounding as it was the first of its kind to
establish a link between social hierarchy, stress, and health.

What is even more astounding is that a British professor did similar
research at the British Civil Service (the Whitehall Study), and found
similar results regarding the stress levels of people based on their
hierarchical role within the agency! The corollary between the humans
and baboons being that the British civil service agents in managerial
positions (and therefore more control over their work environment) had
lower stress levels and less health problems than their subordinate
counterparts.

The fact that both studies, on human and non-human beings existing
within a hierarchical structure, displayed the same causes and effects
has led to conclusive evidence for one important fact that the
bourgeoisie is trying to hide: class society, in it of itself, is killing us.

The research and the documentary were major affirmations of the idea
that class society is completely unnatural and needs to be overthrown.
As Marxists and other radicals have said for well over the last two
hundred years, it is time for an international working class
revolution to wipe away all classes. A classless society rooted in
work-place democracy would democratically plan economies and reduce
useless waste on things like war and marketing. It would also end
exploitation by providing equal wages to all that work, while also
providing for those who were too young, or otherwise unable to work.
Most importantly, for this topic, it would shorten the work day and
work week.

The reason we work such long hard hours is because the bourgeoisie are
in constant competition with each other. Falling behind even a bit can
be the difference between dominating a market or being marginalized
into bankruptcy. As they need to compete with each other they need to
figure out how to get us to work harder and faster for less and less
wages and benefits. That way they can keep up production while also
investing in new technology, products, advertising, and markets.

In a classless society, the democratic planning of the economy would
do away with the anarchy of the market and the way that it grinds
workers down into hyper-stressed corpses.

But it is also important to consider what we can do in the here and
now to lower our stress levels. At this point in time, revolution does
not look like it is around the corner, so in the meantime we need to
make some changes. There is not enough time and space to cover every
detail and recommendation, but a few things can be said about reforms
to fight for and easy practices in our daily lives.

Reforms:

1)  Just getting to work can be a major stress. One important reform
would be a massive expansion of the scope and frequency of public
transit, as well as making it free. Every US city should be connected
by high-speed rail. Every corner of every big city should be connected
by frequent train routes. Smaller cities should have constant buses
with zero-emissions.

2)  Childcare can be impossible to find and/or afford. There should be
free 24 hour childcare at every workplace and in every neighborhood.

3)  Every work place should be unionized and be able to use the union
to win whatever concessions the workers want from the bosses. One
major demand would be to have the freedom to work at one’s own pace.

Daily practice:

A) 10 to 15 minutes of Yoga every morning to gently wake up your mind
and body and prepare them for the long day ahead.

B) 10 to 15 minutes of meditation every night to gently calm your mind
and body and prepare them for sleep.

C)  Stop consuming so much caffeine! Many of us, myself included, spend
way too much time and money purchasing and abusing caffeine drinks.
All they end up doing is magnifying the stress that we feel everyday.
What we need instead is to drink more water and warm teas such as
chamomile, mint, and echinacea tea. These drinks not only provide a
more natural boost to our system, but they also help soothe us as well
as cleanse our systems of toxins and impurities.

Capitalism is killing us through a variety of ways: war, poverty,
bigoted violence, and constant stress. In the long-term, we need
socialist revolution to erase the class system and the connected
exploitation and oppression that comes with it. Therein removing the
foundation of our stresses. In the mid-term, we need to struggle for
reforms that can make the quality of our lives better, while
simultaneously being trained by those struggles for future revolution.
In the short-term we need to develop and reinforce daily practices and
routines to help ourselves release the stresses we have developed, as
well as diminish the stresses that are to come.