“Rent. Bills. Jobs. House work. Studies. Must progress and perform. Stay in shape. Sustain a loving relationship. Nurture friendships. Self-work. Family commitments. Reply to emails. Save money. Spend money. Food shop. Meal prep. Be happy. Laundry. New outfit. Workout. Take out rubbish.”
The first 2 minutes of awakening each morning would sound a little something like this. Despite my best efforts to meditate, my mind would still jump around like a monkey on speed, beating it’s chest, screaming ‘LISTEN TO ME!’.
For years I had been planning to sell everything I own, pack a bag and simply disappear into a world of travel, adventure and wanderlust. One of my main reasons for this plan is I claimed to hate structure, routine and responsibilities.
I was positive it was my lifestyle that made me the way I was; up-tight, anxious and stressed. I wrote at least 3 ‘to do’ lists a week, worried about the future, became an avid over-thinker, suffered from anxiety, cleaned like a maniac, organised everything that could be organised and in all honesty, I was a little bit anal!
I believed in my heart that I was so much more than this worried, stressed person. So I constantly dreamed. I dreamed that when I left to travel I would become a wild women, with not a care in the world. Walking barefoot, eating from the land, living with the locals and making love under the moon. Nothing would phase me, no one would anger nor upset me and I would forget the meaning of stress and responsibilities.
After many months of working, saving and planning, my fiancé and I took the leap and sold everything we owned, we packed a teeny tiny backpack, quit our jobs and headed out to live a nomadic, carefree life for good. We agreed that this wasn’t going to be a one year world trip, that we were going to change the way we live. I couldn’t wait to change. I couldn’t wait to change my lifestyle that was causing me so much stress and anxiety!
Then finally the day arrived. Goodbye stressful world. Hello carefree, hippie harmony!
I mean, realistically, what the hell did I think was gonna happen?
*Poof* The fairy dust clears and there I am;
Smoking hot body, private parts concealed with vibrant green leaves, perfect long hair covering my breasts, calm and collected temperament with a laid back vibe and easy going attitude. My fiancé (now dressed as Tarzan) sweeps me up into his arms and we stroll off into a pastel sunset to live out our days playing the ukulele, swimming in the ocean and drinking coconuts.
Well, let me tell ya. That certainly didn’t fucking happen!
I have left to travel the world and yes it is incredible, exciting and adventurous.
But, I am still uptight, I am still anxious, I still have cellulite and I am still a little bit anal!
My mind continues to jump around like crazy during the first few minutes of my day, it just sounds a little bit different now!
“Where am I? Food. Transport. Clean clothes. Hot shower. Charge phone. Reply to emails. Clean camper van. Wash dishes. Self-work. Sustain loving relationships. Book flights. FaceTime Family. Write postcards. Stay in shape. Don’t spend money. Coffee. How much money do we have left? North or South. Get a job. Don’t get a job. Sand.”
The same monkey mind, just different thoughts.
The same person, just a different life-style.
The same stress, just different causes.
We can blame our undesirable qualities and thought patterns on our situation, environment or circumstances all we like. The reality, we are who we are until we change it for ourself.
This means we have to stop staying ‘I will be happy when’…or ‘I will stop over thinking everything when’…or ‘I won’t be anxious when’…
It really means we can start working on ourselves NOW.
We can decide to work on being the best versions of ourselves right this second. We don’t have to wait until we travel the world, or get the promotion or the new house or drop a few pounds. It can all start here and now. We can begin to calm our minds, seek peace, find happiness and change our attitudes NOW.
And if we choose to wait until ‘that special something happens‘ we will be wickedly disappointed when nothing internally changes at all. There will always be another stress, or something to worry about, or a situation to deal with, this is after all…Life.
The first week or two of my new life really showed me that I will be anxious and stressed no matter where I go or what I do, if I don’t take steps towards overcoming this now. Everything I had ever dreamed of became my reality and my old stresses were long gone, but ever so quickly new stresses appeared and I realised it is untimely how I deal with life’s up’s and down’s that actually matter. It’s the quality of my mind and thoughts that determine how happy I am, not my environment. Of course your circumstances and lifestyle effect your state of mind to some degree, but if we are unshakeably peaceful and content internally then nothing in our external environment can change this.
I have also learned that some of the more quirkier parts of my personality don’t need to be worked on at all! I’m always going to be clean and organised, I’m always going to write ‘to-do’ lists and enjoy structure in my life. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up, stop fighting with yourself and say; ‘Maybe this is just who I am’. Once you do this, embrace the shit out of yourself and love your quirky qualities like nothing else.
Internal change can certainly take time, I’m not going to be a wild carefree women this week, maybe not this month, maybe not even this year. But I will take a step each day to calming my active mind, reducing my stressful tendencies and to loving the life I lead.
After this massive realisation these last couple of months have been the best of my life, I have fully embraced some parts of my personality that I previously fought against and dedicated myself to changing and improving certain thought patterns and habits.
Admittedly, simplifying my life has been a massive aid in my (never-ending) journey to peace and self-love. Owning so little and attending to only innate needs is extremely refreshing. But make the choice to find self-love, happiness and peace now, that way when your ‘something special’ does happen, it will be even more sweeter.
Meditation, affirmations, yoga, journalling, soulful connection with others, reading and a massive dollop of self-love is helping me over come my anxiety and harness my monkey mind.
There are no more ‘I will be happy when’s’ just ‘I am working on being happy now’.