richard carlson on being relaxed

Relax

What does it mean to relax? Despite hearing this term thousands of times during the course of our lives, very few people have deeply considered what it’s really about.

When you ask people (which I have done many times) what it means to relax, most will answer in a way that suggests that relaxing is something you plan to do later – you do it on vacation, in a hammock, when you retire, or when you get everything done. This implies, of course, that most other times (the other 95 percent of your life) should be spent nervous, agitated, rushed, and frenzied. Very few actually come out and say so, but this is the obvious implication. Could this explain why so many of us operate as if life were one great big emergency? Most of us postpone relaxation until our “in basket” is empty. Of course it never is.
It’s useful to think of relaxation as a quality of heart that you can access on a regular basis rather than something reserved for some later time. You can relax now. It’s helpful to remember that relaxed people can still be superachievers and, in fact, that relaxation and creativity go hand in hand. When I’m feeling uptight, for example, I don’t even try to write. But when I feel relaxed, my writing flows quickly and easily.
Being more relaxed involves training yourself to respond differently to the dramas of life-turning your melodrama into a mellow-drama. It comes, in part, from reminding yourself over and over again (with loving kindness and patience) that you have a choice in how you respond to life. You can learn to relate to your thinking as well as your circumstances in new ways. With practice, making these choices will translate into a more relaxed self.

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