7 Ways to Deal With Micro-Stress
Stress, it turns out, is a lot like snow. Here’s how to dig out.
I’m at the beach watching the surfers ride the waves. The best of them are highly skilled at becoming one with the swelling ocean that will eventually transform into a wave. Success requires surrendering to an uncontrollable and unpredictable force. The minute the surfers resist the flow, they risk being overwhelmed. But if they align themselves with the motion of the seawater, they have an easier time. Life works in much the same way.
Surfing reminds me of the Latin phrase amor fati, meaning “love of fate.” The concept comes from ancient Greek and Roman philosophers of stoicism and encourages us to embrace what life brings in order to reduce our struggles. Let’s face it, struggle is nothing more than our resistance to what is. We generally spend a great deal of time in this state, and as long as we continue to resist what is—as opposed to practicing amor fati—our struggle persists.
The trauma and isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic have forced many of us to grapple with the challenge of reinvention. Many people I was friendly with have moved away. My yoga studio, gym, meditation center, spiritual and holistic learning center, neighborhood health food restaurant, and favorite Italian restaurant and bar have all closed for good. This leaves me with a lot of room in which to create something even better. Although I wish things were different, I must accept what is and rebuild my tribe and community. Amor fati can help.
The act of surrender isn’t very popular in our modern Western culture, which tends to encourage competitiveness and the fight to win. For many of us, surrender implies losing or giving up. Yet, many of the wisest philosophers teach us that surrender does not equate with weakness. Rather, it is something to strive for because letting go, witnessing, and going with the flow is the path to the satisfaction and holistic wellbeing we all seek.
Practicing amor fati can even be as simple as saying it out loud in response to challenges.
None of this means we’re happy about any unwelcome events we face. Nor does it imply giving up. Amor fati simply makes us less emotionally reactive. Accepting unwanted events prevents us from getting stuck and frees up the energy to create what we do want.
As I share these thoughts, I notice one of the surfers being taken down by a wave. He washes ashore, smiles, and without hesitating jumps back onto his board and out into the ocean. This fall, I’ll be leaning into amor fati and aspiring to a surfer’s mindset. Will you be joining me?
Catch your own wave! Build spiritual stamina through surrender and the practice of uncertainty.
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