On Burdens

I was thinking about burdens the other day and had an interesting realization.

Burdens by definition are things that are “exacting, oppressive or difficult to bear.” But I was curious as to why we allowed these things to be this way. Why do we let things in our life build with so much anxiety and woe that they become such a heavy weight?

I realized that much of the stress we feel when reflecting on things we perceive as burdens comes from a possible or expected outcome. A job is a burden if we are pushing for a raise or concerned that we’re stuck there. A friendship or relationship becomes a burden if we’re constantly focused on what the future might bring, or hoping for some change in the other person’s life. Things in life like pets, kids, hobbies, goals, etc. are a burden when placed against the context of longevity, the fact that you will need to direct your attention to them consistently for years.

So what happens when we choose to look at these things through a different filter, addressing them instead on terms of the here and now? Much of that anxiety removes. A job becomes just a job. A friendship becomes about enjoying your time together. We nurture our children. We play with our pets. We create something. We thrive.

Things in our lives become burdens when we choose to focus directly on negative outcomes or possibilities. I personally believe this is our brain trying to utilize a basic function like fight or flight against a complex stimuli. We want to be prepared for the worst, but short of just having a plan and letting it ride, our body stays on edge, keeping our extreme emotions just on the cusp. I think we subconsciously believe that this will make reacting to negative outcome easier. The result instead is an ever present cloud of stress looming in our minds, preventing us from working at the highest level of efficiency or fully enjoying the world around us.

It’s entirely subconscious, which makes it so treacherous, and so we have to be mindful and work toward growth. We have to take whatever steps work best for us to constantly remind ourselves that we are not in the soon to be or the what if, we are in the now. We are only capable of directly affecting what we can immediately see, what we can touch and experience. So we need to become better at planning and leaving it. Store the plans away in our mental filing cabinets for the day that we possibly need them, but stop grasping to them and reviewing them over and over. Know what you would do in the case of a negative outcome, and then move on. Be positive, optimistic, and just generally enjoy the life you have now.

Shake off the shackles of worry and enjoy the sunshine of the present.