Yesterday was cold – winter-cold, as in to say ‘it’s winter’. Yep. It’s generally the time of year for winter holidays in the northern hemisphere. I went to work bundled up in weather appropriate garb, and still felt stiff and cold by the time I got to the office. By the end of the day, I was in a nearly unmanageable amount of pain, and chose to bring my evening to an early close after a hot shower. I didn’t get to sleep any earlier, really, but I also didn’t treat anyone poorly. This morning I wake, stiff and hurting. Winter often brings more pain, and I find myself aware that my own awareness of that isn’t helping…I set that thought aside and reach for another, and my coffee.

On my way in to the office yesterday, I explored the recent significant increase in my anxiety level (work related), and used a variety of new tools and skills to take a look at more closely than I have. I used perspective to give myself an improved sense of scale and recognized it isn’t actually as severe as it once was. I used walking meditation to remain engaged in the moment, and aware of my emotional experience without judgement, and the seeming profundity of the feelings diminished considerably. I used body scan practices to sort out the emotions from the sensations, which tends to change the sense of an emotion from being very significant, to simply being, further alleviating the anxiety. I used cognitive practices I learned using SuperBetter – like a ‘reality check’ – to decrease my tendency to escalate internally based on untested assumptions, and each practice I practiced took me a step further from being anxious. The root cause was clear and obvious as soon as my heart was calm and my thinking was clear; it’s really just work anxiety. Hardly noteworthy; I’m sure everyone has occasional anxiety about work, career, employment…something in that area.

Work anxiety isn’t pleasant, and it does keep me up at night and messes with my sleep…but…what if my messed up sleep is actually causing the anxiety? What if it isn’t ‘real’ at all? Thoughts…emotions…both rather astonishingly lacking in substance…maybe I shouldn’t be so ready to attribute cause and effect, or be haphazard about assigning relative importance? As I walked I allowed myself to consider the extreme…what if ‘the worst’ happened? I startled myself to laugh out loud when I realized I was – even now – holding on to ‘losing my job’ as some  pinnacle of misery, some worst case scenario. It isn’t. My employment, what I do for a living, may well be the very least important, significant, or defining quality about me as a human being; its damned near irrelevant…particularly because of the person I am, and the values I hold, and what I hold most dear about myself, and life. Work? It’s a characteristic, and changeable. I’m a human primate; I’m adaptable. The loss of any one job doesn’t have more significance than any other change – unless I allow it to.  I felt a bit of vertigo as my values kicked my anxiety in the nuts. The work day was just fine – other than the pain I’m in.

It's all about perspective. What we choose to look at changes what we see.

It’s all about perspective. What we choose to look at changes what we see.

I woke this morning, stiff, and with a headache. The air feels too dry. I’m a bit cross. I do what I can to set clear expectations and boundaries with regard to mornings; it takes about an hour for my medication to be fully effective, for my brain to really come back online, and for my stiff joints to regain some mobility.  I take active steps to avoid interacting with people until I can more easily and reliably treat them well. Funny how often – even in the face of that very clear, very specific expectation and boundary setting – some human primate or another will crowd me, or try to have reasoned dialogue about…well, damned near anything. I’m just not ready. My traveling partner knows me well. He too is a human primate, and the recipient of some of my boundary and expectation setting. Tip for other free-range human primates: if you are going to step across that line, arriving with a hot tasty latte is an excellent success strategy. LOL My Americano was tasty, and hot… but there’s nothing ‘creamy’ about an Americano. As it turns out, I find ‘creamy’ an extraordinary delight in the morning. I still hurt. I still have this headache. Now I also have this tasty latte, and a really charming funny guy to hang out with before work!

Today is a good day to take things as they come. Today is a good day to be adaptable, flexible, and to make the best assumptions of others, where assumptions must be made at all. Today is a good day to change the world.