The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. -Robert Burns
Anyone who has a habit of making plans for their life will soon realize that things don’t always go as expected. Sometimes, when things don’t go according plan, it’s tempting to feel like a failure. But sometimes, things can even work out better than you had even hoped!
Living in this world today, we know that we can’t always be in control. In fact, this very realization is what can help us accept and overcome when our plans don’t quite succeed. At certain times, we just need to receive the hand that we’ve been dealt and learn to make the best of it.
Plus, since we know that stress is unhealthy and unhelpful, we must learn to counteract the stress by learning to go with the flow.
Keep Calm and Carry On.
In recent years, the phrase “Keep Calm” has been used in a variety of ways to promote a stress-free attitude. The history dates back to World War II in Great Britain when the government put up posters with this phrase all over public areas. The point was to remind the local people that, even though they really couldn’t do much about the war, panicking certainly wasn’t going to help.
These “Keep Calm” posters reminded the people that they still had some sort of job to do or responsibilities to carry out, in spite of their desperate circumstances. Even if they couldn’t control their circumstances, they could control their responses to them.
Let’s take a look at the two parts of this mantra and see how we can apply it to our lives currently:
Keep Calm. In the midst of even the direst of circumstances (bombs being dropped in a war!), the British people were encouraged to keep calm. Most of us aren’t in the middle of a war right now, but we can still gain benefit from this suggestion of keeping calm.
One of the first steps in keeping calm is breathing deeply. When we begin to panic, our bodies react by releasing adrenaline and our respiratory systems respond by taking shorter, shallower breaths. We need to counteract this by taking conscious control of our breathing. Breathing in and out slowly and deeply will allow us to regain a modicum of calm in the midst of upsetting circumstances. When you take a moment to think only about breathing, you are able to reign in the scattered thoughts of your brain and focus on the most vital issues at hand.
Carry On. Once you’ve been able to calm your thoughts and breathe your body into less panic, it’s time to assess the situation and see what might need to happen next. If it makes sense to ask for help and then simply wait, that’s okay! Carrying on often means letting go of control and seeing what happens. Or it might mean being resourceful, flexible and resilient—coming up with a new way of doing what needs to be done.
Whatever the case, when things don’t go as you planned, keeping a positive outlook on life is extremely beneficial. You can always look on the bright side. And if you don’t have a plan? That’s okay too. Sometimes, you just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens.
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