It’s one of the modern laws of happiness: Reduce overwhelm.
But most of us ignore it.
When was the last time you got the feeling that everything was squared away and in its place?
I mean all your emails processed. A witty comment for each new Facebook post in your feed. Your sister’s birthday gift thoughtfully selected, wrapped, and ready to ship. Your bills paid, and your laundry folded neatly in your drawers.
When was the last time you legitimately felt bored?
Do you remember that feeling? Before the days of Netflix recommendations waiting in your queue. Before the days of emails to sort while you stand in line. Before the days of so many coupons from department stores that you need a separate email account just to receive them.
Overwhelm. It’s a subtle form of stress. You probably don’t even notice it’s there.
This is the part of the article where you probably expect me to start citing research. Telling you why health psychologists have proven the ill effects of too much stimulation. And maybe a book recommendation promising a better life after you implement the 379 easy steps to feeling less overwhelmed.
As a personal development junkie, I can relate. The honest truth is, I never stop. The stack of books by my bed lamp is only surpassed by the scrolling list of Kindle titles I bought but never found the time to read.
But don’t get me wrong. I still feel the excitement each time a new magazine arrives in the mail.
There’s a cycle to this madness, you know. It starts with fascination. Interest in a new idea that could boost my quality of life.
But then the phone rings and I never finish the article I was reading. I set down the magazine and only discover it again when the next issue arrives. Since I paid for it, I feel an obligation to read the old one before starting the one that’s new.
And that makes me feel stressed. Does that make me weird?
Maybe I am. But recognizing this pattern just might be the best thing I accomplished this year.
You see, I tried a little experiment. I threw away a stack of magazines I intended to read but never got around to as the stack continued to grow.
I set a timer on my watch and unsubscribed from email lists for 10 minutes straight. And I deleted 27 emails with interesting subject lines I had saved to read later (you know, when I’d have more time).
Then I printed a page with bold letters: “Less is more.” And I taped it to the inside of my bathroom cabinet. A daily reminder of a new sort of choice. A choice to be less overwhelmed.
And a funny thing happened.
I felt more accomplished, relaxed, and happy than I had in years.
It wasn’t overnight. Though the feeling became stronger with each passing day. And now I can happily say I’m never going back.
Because a life of constant overwhelm is barely any life at all.
Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed?
Sometimes it’s the hundreds of tiny choices you have to make each day. They wear you down, and you don’t even realize it’s happening. Yet you wonder why you feel so tired at 7:30 that night.
Sometimes it’s the feeling of obligation, because you rarely say “no.” It seems so petty to turn down a small request. So you “squeeze it in,” and then feel guilty when you have to do a rushed job that shows.
Sometimes it’s an internal drive to be the best you can be. And at other times it’s because you don’t want to miss an important opportunity … to save more money, be a better parent, keep up with the latest political news.
Here’s the honest truth:
Trying to cram more life into your 24 hours will accomplish just the opposite.
You already know it’s true, but let me remind you. Life is beautiful, but it’s hard to tell as you speed through it at 90 miles per hour. But what’s more is this…
Life reserves her most magical displays of beauty only for those who wait on the silence where stillness speaks.
And so it is with romance.
Adventures build memories. Elegant restaurants frame the importance of your time together. But romance is born in the still moments of silence.
When you recognize one of these moments, don’t rush to fill the space. Don’t comment on the silence itself. Let it be. Hold his gaze and let the silence speak.
Many people miss these opportunities. After all, trying to impress a partner is natural.
But sometimes you need to create space. Because in that space, you are better able to sense the true quality of what it feels like to be together. Both serving as a witness to each other’s lives.
As a dating and relationship coach, I find most people are looking for techniques. They want to do something to capture a man’s love and devotion. Yet the ironic truth is that doing is sometimes the problem that’s getting in the way.
When you create space, allowing shared moments of silence, something changes in a relationship.
A quietness emerges. And in that space, your affection can be felt almost like a thing you could touch or hold in your hand. For the briefest moment, it feels almost tangible.
And there’s more to it than that.
Creating space encourages you both to share your life stories. It’s often after a moment of silence that one or both of you begin to unravel the story of a life journey that brought you to this moment in time.
And let me tell you, stories have power. Because witnessing another person’s life story builds a special kind of bond. We feel the most alive and the least alone in the presence of those who know our life story.
In relationships, silence is golden. But the constant feeling of overwhelm can cause you to miss it. Your ability to slow down becomes impaired.
Don’t let this happen to you. Decrease the clutter in your life. Remove what distracts you from appreciating the beauty of life one moment at a time.
These are the habits of a woman whose beautiful life energy is strong enough to feel when you enter her presence. Strong enough to evoke the kind of passion only silence can bring.
Marianne Olmey says
Laundry and gift buying I am on top of, or rather, my husband and I jointly are, but women have more complex responsibilities these days. Can you give advice for how to find more time to finish all the grant applications, writing up my research, and the search committee?
Amy Waterman says
Hi, Marianne! I thought your question was so important it merited its own article. 🙂 Find it here: https://yourbrilliance.com/get-more-time/