Martha Beck discusses ways to confront life’s challenges.
The best way to confront life’s challenges is calmly.
I have an ongoing argument with my editor at O Magazine, a jocular argument, because she tends to get a little tense and I keep telling her that I can’t think of a single life situation that is not improved by relaxing.
And that includes things like if you are violently attacked a martial arts instructor will tell you that you need to get relaxed in order to be an effective combatant to be alert and safe.
So tensions, stress, worry – those are actually our enemies. And humans, among all the animal kingdom, are the only beings that keep ourselves stressed when there’s not an actual threat in the room.
So your dog might be nervous about someone who treated it badly but the dog is not going to sit obsessing about it all night along.
When he sees that person again he might react but he is not going to brood, right?
Whereas you might be lying awake all night thinking about the IRS, or that guy at work who is trying to get you.
It’s as if that threat is right in the room with you and what that means is that you are secreting cortisol and your muscles are tensing and your immune system is not functioning as well.
And learning to calm down by just being where you are and saying, okay, here I am – the truth of my life is this – I am a woman sitting in a chair, or I am a man lying in bed at 3 o’clock in the morning, and that’s it.
That’s all I have to deal with. Coming back to the present moment and calming yourself is the single best starting point for effective problem solving, no matter what is happening to you.
About Martha Beck:
Martha Beck, Ph.D., is a writer and life coach who specializes in helping people design satisfying and meaningful life experiences. She holds a bachelor's degree in East Asian Studies and master's and Ph.D. degrees in sociology, all from Harvard University. She has published academic books and articles on a variety of social science and business topics.
Her non-academic books include the New York Times bestsellers “Expecting Adam” and “Leaving the Saints,” as well as “Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live” and her newest book, “Steering by Starlight.” Dr. Beck has also been a contributing editor for many popular magazines, including Real Simple and Redbook, and is currently a columnist for O, the Oprah Magazine.