When we stress out in life nothing works. And when nothing is working we stress out. Call it a catch-22. Last night watching the Red Sox fight to stay alive, we all saw the bearded men crumbling. Stressing out. Nothing good happening. As the innings marched on, more stress, more mistakes. Then the constant, David Ortiz gets on base. Gets home. Run 1. Effortless. Shortly thereafter, we heard he gave a rallying cry in the dugout, "when you're putting pressure on yourself and you're trying to overdo things, it doesn't always work." And with that the entire game switched! Red Sox win it. Has this been Big Papi's secret all along? Stress less!
Who knew watching the Red Sox in this crazy World Series would remind me of the ways in life which we can reduce our own stress.
1. See everything in the present.
If you hang on to the past, like old records playing on repeat in the mind, or worry with every spare moment about tomorrow, life becomes a stress fest! Watching the fourth game, everyone in Boston still had one foot back in game three: How could they call obstruction? What? And eyeing the future: Oh no what if we go to Fenway down two games? With Big Papi's first run in the fifth inning, we finally got to Game 4. The game the Sox were actually playing, and the one all of New England was finally watching. We were, as they say, finally in the game. So in life when you are worried about something that happened in the past or fearing an uncertain future, get in the game you are playing now. The one that needs your undivided attention. It will all of a sudden get really fun because you realize this is the moment. This one. And if you are really keeping your eye on the ball, the one that is flying at you at 90 miles per hour, if you are truly present you just might hit that home run. (Eternally grateful, Gomes!)
2. Stop isolating.
Watching the game, I was trying to figure out what was different about our team, the Red Sox, besides the scraggly beards. And when John Lackey came out of the bullpen I got it. The Cardinals may have some amazing individuals (I won't mention any names, huhum Carpenter, Beltran, Holliday) but we have an amazing team. For a moment, I think the Sox forgot that. Then pitcher after pitcher came out to do their part, and even Koji Uehara was not going to let us forget his importance to the team closing down the game with that throw to Napoli. When we are stressed out and life isn't working, often we feel totally alone. "No one could possibly know what I am going through." "I'm all alone." "Everything is on my shoulders." When you feel yourself isolating, it is time to get out of your own head. There are two surefire ways to do this: express what is on your mind to anyone willing to listen or go do something for someone else. Both will relieve the pressure of isolation.
3. Affirm your reality.
When David Ortiz comes up to home plate he is going to connect to the ball. Fact. Does it always happen? Obviously, not, but more often than not... it does happen. He wants a third ring. Fact. Is it guaranteed? Of course not, but is he imaging it on his finger? Probably. "Presence,'' said Gomes, according to the Boston Globe. "Any time this guy steps in the box, there's a presence." There is no question in Papi's mind that the bat will hit the ball (at least that is what his presence confirms). In life when we are faced with challenging circumstances, affirm the thoughts you want to make your reality. Don't affirm the demon thoughts that are just trying to take you out. The one's that pop up like fly balls, like "You suck," or "You're not good enough," or "Who do you think you are"? Instead, feed your strength not your weakness, believe that you can and you will. So much of our time is spent stressing, trying to control life to be a certain way. By seeing reality clearly you can approach each situation with presence and clarity knowing what simply needs to be done. No stress about it. Now the truth is we don't know how this series will end. And what I bet is that Big Papi also knows, ring or no ring, life goes on. The world still spins the next day. So you might as well really enjoy the game.