As with every other September, now that school is back in session there seems to be twice as much traffic on the streets. People are more anxious, they’re hurrying more, and they’re moodier. While the stress commuting to work places on our health (and the health of the environment) has been well-documented, as individuals we tend to overlook just how much it weighs on us and affects our overall happiness.
Of all the problematic mindsets I’ve identified in myself and focused energy on managing, victim mentality was – and continues to be – by far one of the trickiest. What was particularly tricky for me, and what trips many others up as well, is that we tend to associate victim mentality with people who are whiny, dour, and filled with self-pity they feel duty-bound to share with those around them.
Making big change to the course of your life is not easy. We all know it’s hard to make the decision to change one job for another, or leave a long-term relationship, or move to a new home.
The reason these changes are so hard is because of the fear they produce in us. We are designed by nature to avoid uncertain situations, and what happens when we make a change is that we’re moving from certainty into uncertainty.
I realize that “action-oriented” has a stale corporate connotation, something you’d place in the “Skills and Interests” section of your résumé, or a trait you’d discuss with a boss during an annual performance review. But before you groan, hear me out! There is actually something to it.
But first, what exactly is action-orientation?
*Thanks to all the incredibly wise individuals who have shared these hacks with me over the years. You’ve changed my life.
Most people I know would describe me as cool, relaxed, and easy-going – like a person who doesn’t get worked up or emotional or stressed out. To those who know me, and to those who read my carefully written blog posts, the following may come as a bit of surprise:
I used to have a hard time managing my emotions.
Usually when we use the word pragmatic we mean to say that something is practical, useful, or functional.
But there is another usage of the word that we are less familiar with, and that is in reference to the philosphy of pragmatism. This is a subject that I am – by no means – an expert on, but a subject I’m very excited about because, well…
In the warmer months, I commute to work by bike, which means I spend a lot of time on it. I also take my cycling safety very seriously because, well, I don’t want to get injured or worse.
One morning, while biking along Dundas Street east of Sherbourne (before the Dundas bike lane begins), one of TO’s ancient streetcars pulled up alongside me. We were cruising along side-by-side for about 150 metres, me in the right lane and the tram in the left. When suddenly a fast-moving pickup truck barreled past in the narrow gap between my skeletal system and the streetcar, not two inches from striking me with his sideview mirror.
Oh, emotional overload. Feelings piled upon feelings piled upon feelings, until ka-boom!
Have you ever felt upset about something and you’re not sure why? So you feel a bit embarrassed for being upset at something so silly. And then on top of that you’re also confused about what you’re feeling, which makes you feel annoyed and even a bit angry. And then after a while you start feeling pretty overwhelmed and you’re not even sure where it all started, and your head starts spinning….
One of my approaches to bike safety is pretending that cars behave with the same unpredictability of caged jungle cats.
I remember a story in the news from when I was a kid. There was a family who lived in a neighbouring town who had a lot of pets, one of them being a panther, which they kept in a large cage. The panther was domesticated; the family used to go in the cage and feed her, play with her, hang out with her. By all accounts, the panther seemed to get along with the family, and they trusted her.