some activities deliver more energy then they cost, simply because they stop us from carrying around the weight of our worries and fighting the friction caused by doubts.
Do you recognize the feeling that you have to be more then you are? Better then you are? That you constantly have to perform at your top level or even above that? Modern society is indeed consequently putting pressure on us to ‘add value’, to be worthy, willing and successful. In other words, to perform. And almost everybody encounters the same, even those who seem to wander through live without any effort and those who are in better financial, familiar or health situations then you are. Undoubtedly some of us are luckier than others in life, but even the most fortunate among us will ‘grow’ their position, possessions and expectations until they rise to a level that causes stress.
The first reaction of most people usually is to try and beat this stress by working harder or getting better. But this doesn’t garanty the wanted result and might even work counter productive: Getting better, our expectation level will grow just as hard as our abilities, and exactly that expectation level is one of the leading parameters for our stress. Working overtime will get us more tired and consequently more sensitive for stress…
And even if you would succeed to beat all the challenges you face, society will adjust itself to the ‘new and improved you’ faster then you can change yourself…. Growing perfection will raise expectations and a higher income will raise your expenses (after all that’s what money is for, and only few of us are able to resist this tendency…). The space you are trying to achieve to live a bit more comfortable will soon be filled with new challenges, unstoppable like water.
But neither does it work to simply accept your current situation and fail. Society is moving forward and we also get stressed from missing the train and staying behind. So what should we do to feel better and be better at the same time?
The answer might seem unfulfilling, especially if you are programmed in the ‘competing modus’ like most of us are, but big part of the solution lies in learning to enjoy the moment, to accept your body and soul just as they are right now, in other words: in relaxing. Relaxing creates instant quality and improves your performance. After all our body and soul perform best if they manage to alternate stressful and intensive period by regular relaxation…
So to improve your performance in an endurable way, you better first set your goals on the amount of time you will spend on sleeping, relaxing and eating healthy. It will make you smarter, nicer, more attractive, more effective at work and less likely to make mistakes. And it will improve your life starting today instead of tomorrow. And who knows how long life will last?
There are many ways to insert ’relaxation’ into your life in a more or less ‘purse neutral’ way, such as yoga, sports, hiking, sex etc. But for me personally, the necessary ‘relaxing’ came when I started to DANCE TANGO. Tango requires an ergonomically efficient use of the body, and before to long it took away the physical problems I had with my back and arms due to an overload of stress and office work (repetitive strain injury, RSI). Besides it proved to be a pure flow activity, giving my brains the chance to playfully and unconsciously change focus and to ’reset’ after a hard day of work. No matter how tired I was, after some dances my physical and mental batteries would be completely reloaded.
Now that’s interesting, because tango is still a dance, and objectively it requires at least some attention and physical effort. My hypothesis on this is that I believe some activities deliver more energy then they cost, simply because they stop us from carrying around the weight of our worries and fighting the friction caused by doubts.
Another great thing about tango is that it is by definition a private, custom made dance. The best person to dance ‘your tango’ is you! And your tango is the only tango that should matter to you. In the proces to learn and dance, your personal tango style, physical and mental limits and mistakes are not only a powerful source of hilarity and joy, but also a condition to create the variety of tastes we are all looking for in the tango kitchen.
All in all, the proces of learning tango had the effect on me that I found more pleasure in going to work, while in the mean time I started performing better, delivering more output, making wiser decisions and being more flexible in dealing with difficult situations and people. As a cherry on the cake I got more confident and happy, which had positive effects on my personal life and feelings.
Now, if you are very lucky, your boss does understand that you and your colleagues perform best if you feel good. It sounds like a no-brainer, but many bosses don’t seem to get it and keep stressing their people. Focussed on performance as they are, these same bosses are likely to be intrigued by the impressive innovation and growth of companies in Silicon Valley. Indeed, the home of power naps, table tennis, free working times and ’making people feel at home at work’. And focussed on excellence as they are, they probably also admire the persistence of top atletes, who happen to sleep more hours then they train…
But in the more likely situation that you are not lucky enough to work for an enligthened boss, you might want to invite the board of directors (or the whole company?) to a tangoworkshop, to experience the relaxing and recharging power of tango!