On optional stress

On optional stress

It is really true that there is an extent to which tragedy provides perspective.  When your mother, husband, fave sister in law, father in law, and another sister in law all die within a 2 year period, well, you really don’t get that upset when you happen to have a flat tire.

Which brings me to stressing yourself out on purpose.

I have to tune out when people kvetch about the damned Elf on the Shelf and how stressful it is to move it every day.  If you don’t like it, don’t do it.

If it gives you pleasure to move the Elf, go ahead. But don’t create an elf-world out of guilt.

I could just scream when people complain about how difficult it is to plan a wedding feast, or how costly. You don’t have to do these things. You really don’t.

(Which brings me to: There is nothing “traditional” about a white wedding. Read some history books. Heck, watch some movies from the 40s. Everyone has seen It’s a Wonderful Life but no one seems to notice that George and Mary got married by a judge and she was wearing a suit.)

There is a world of difference between: my nineteen year old boiler needs a thousand dollars of work or I won’t have heat in December, and the Elf on the Shelf is stressing me out.

So what makes it unnecessary stress, in my book?

Can it be avoided?

If it can be avoided, is it an investment, or something ephemeral? What’s the return, if you consider it an investment?

You can sometimes choose whether to go to college, but that is an investment—in most cases, especially for women, you will have a better life and a bigger income having given yourself an education and a testimonial in the form of a diploma.

I’ve never seen a big wedding yet that wasn’t more grief than it was worth. People are putting off buying houses for a one day bash. Or—even more sickening—expecting parents to go into debt before they embark on their adult lives. With the American rate of divorce at about one marriage in two ending legally rather than until death parts them, the big wedding is farcical.

On the outside looking in, of course, you don’t always know if there is a return on the investment. Why, when I am in a very low paying profession, and am the sole support of two people, do I spend an hour’s pay each week on voice lessons, for crying out loud?

For me, it is an investment that keeps me disciplined and happy.

Then again, you don’t hear me kvetching about it, like I hear people do with the elf, or with the fancy wedding.

If you are spending more time complaining about an optional activity than enjoying it, DON’T DO IT.

Don’t shave your legs. Don’t join the gym you won’t really attend, just to say you have a membership. Don’t have a bigger wedding than you can afford. Don’t  have your child’s birthday party at a theme restaurant. Don’t send holiday cards.

I had intended to blog every Tuesday, but sometimes I would rather ride my bike. And, since the blog provides no income, and I already know I enjoy writing, and I am disciplined in other areas–yeah, I’ll let the blog go for a few days, or a week, or until I have something to say. It’s OK.

For god’s sake, there’s enough real misery in the world. Don’t create it, and don’t pretend it is where it is not.


3 thoughts on “On optional stress

  1. This is really good advice. Also “don’t create an elf-world out of guilt” is hilarious and I may borrow it this holiday season, at least inside my head.


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