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Turn it Down; Turn it Up

On the subject of manifesting Paradise in everyday life:

(to the tune of “Island Standard Time“) – you can click and play this while reading.

I made a change in my life about a month ago that is shifting more things in my world than even I had originally imagined. And this one change has me thinking today about how I – we, actually – can change our world by changing what we input *into* that world.

In short, turn down the negative; turn up the positive.

In my Secret Identity as a mild-mannered tech writer, my previous office was in San Jose, which was about an hour’s commute each way. Last year, my job function and responsibilities shifted significantly, to where I no longer had to work in a particular office to be near a particular product team. Since I work for a big company with multiple offices here in the Bay Area, I asked to be moved to an office in Pleasanton, about a third as far away mile- and time-wise. That move finally happened in late August.

I’d anticipated some of the improvements – an extra hour’s worth of productive time every day, less money spent on gas and tolls. What I *didn’t* expect was how much less stress I would have as a result of this one change. A lot of things that used to cause my gut to clench…don’t now.

Part of that is just not stressing the commute, or anticipating stressing the commute, which was *also* stressful. But now that I have a shorter commute that isn’t as variable due to traffic, I don’t listen to news radio anymore on my way to work, or if I do, I just turn it on for what I want to hear and then turn it off. This has reduced the amount of stressful input into my cognitive world by quite a bit. I still have my Internet news…but I can choose what to read and to not read that way, rather than taking whatever gets shoved down the pipeline at me.

Net result: I’ve turned the volume on my stress *way* down, by turning the volume down on several causes of stress.

Meanwhile, I’ve got that extra hour and a bit on each of the three days I used to commute to San Jose. What am I doing with that?

Part of that time is going toward being more productive in my Day Job. This gives me a sense of getting stuff done rather than chasing my tail, which reduces stress and increases positive feelings about *me*.

And part of it…when I get home, I am making more of a practice of just sitting out on the front porch with my drink after I get home, rather than just plugging myself into the Internet. And *that* is radically turning up the pleasure and relaxation quotient in my life.

When I’m feeling more confident and more relaxed, I’m also more likely to pick up the guitar, rehearse something, or work on writing something. When I *do* get online, I’m less likely to be dragged down by someone’s angry rants, and more likely to respond with humor, empathy, an attempt to turn someone else’s stress down and their relaxation and joy up. Which doesn’t always work, but is always worth trying.

Turning down the stress and turning up the joy. It’s a very simple equation. The important things usually are.

It’s easy to resist doing even the little things. Habit is a powerful master. But “if you can’t change your mind, do you still have one?” Try something small, like not reading something you know is gonna piss you off.

And a new saying, that I’ve just invented, borrowing from others: Minds are like diapers. Every now and then they need changing, and generally for the same reason.

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