Sufficient to the day, are the evils thereof… so said Jesus. He didn’t pad his worries with what might be, or what had come before. Those people with focus and a clean conscience sleep well at night.
Focus is something that people become aware of when they enter into a hobby that requires it. Focus mean you shut out unnecessary information. It is a skill that must be learned. I was just reading an article about house painting, which pointed out that the best painters think only about the one yard space in front of their eyeballs. The rest of the world disappears while they concentrate.
Examples of good focus are anything which involves eye/hand skill like building and making something, doing a painting, playing a musical instrument, reading a book… all these fire up the good parts of your brain.
Focus is the gift of any hobby which requires prolonged concentration. This is not just mind training, it’s good for your health, and good for your blood pressure. It’s learning to let go while you get something done. The opposite to this skill, is to be overwhelmed with the fear of failure, remembrance of things that no longer matter, and worry about side issues that do not impact the present task.
Jordan Peterson pointed out, that in face of a life difficulty it pays off to shorten the frame of reference, to what is more in your control. Can’t predict the year? How about the month. If you can’t control the month cut that down to a week. If you are in truly dire times, it sometimes is the best thing to try to live a day at a time. You will survive longer that way, and it is a more useful strategy than worry.
A guy I knew complained about going to a psychiatrist. At every pause the psychiatrist asked…“how do you feel about that?,” then told him to pick up a stick and to beat a pillow, calling out the names of people he was mad at. The person telling me this story thought he had wasted his time and his money and I fear he was right. To deal with your emotions doesn’t apply any solution to the actual problem which is causing the distress in the first place. Moreover, a practical solution actually does something concrete that puts you in better control. Shorten your problem to what is doable now… what tiny step can I accomplish right now to make things better? It’s focus on solving the issue rather than how you feel about it that gets you out of the soup.
It is the perview of adults to realize there will always be a bill to pay, always something to do, and always a problem to fix. Some days also require you to save up your resources. It is called rest, and even God applied this in the proportion of one day out of seven. One-seventh of your time should be used as a recharge, to step back, relax, reassess, and figure out what is next. It’s odd that something so practical should have to be religious in order to be followed.
Kids always seem to have problems that are larger than life. The sign of a true adult is the one who is not rocked by a problem. He or she will suck it up and deal with it without expending too much emotion. They won’t feel the need to overshare. It’s the reality of complexity. As you age your life becomes more complex. The payoff, is that you grow more capable of both accepting this, and dealing with the complexities.
Stress is a big-time health impactor. It wears you down at a cellular level and makes you age faster. It releases all those emergency response hormones which your body must work hard to absorb. Hence, any kind of coping mechanism is good. Here are a few. Walk away from the problem. Come back to deal with it, with fresh eyes. Get some fresh air. Go outside. Socialize with someone else. It will keep you from being overwhelmed. The other thing, is to differentiate between good and bad stress. There is stress that catapults you into action. It lets you get work done. Bad stress eats away at you slowly. It interferes with that productivity and focus.
My maternal grandfather died of an ulcer. I never thought about that much until I was an adult and had adult-ish sized problems. His life was punctuated with treats of his times, the Great Depression, and World War. During the depression, the prices for his cattle fell to four dollars a head. Cash was in short supply, but he was able to survive from the food produced on his own farm.
To his credit, he took in and fed many “tramps” who arrived in town on the back of a boxcar. He would get angry if you called them that. “Those young men need a full belly and a leg up”, he would say, and then provide the full belly. It was his solution to the evils of his day. The one he could not solve, was two sons off at war. One came home, the other did not. All the stress caught up with him. His ulcer burst while he was chopping wood, and he died at home before help could arrive.
I sit back and wonder about stories like that. They make you question the idea of justice in the world. So does reading the news. It is always bad, it seems. More than this, we are still in lockdown over COVID. I can sit inside and stew about this, or I can try to do SOMETHING.
My own solution (this weekend at least) has been to rebuild a kitchen cabinet. The granite man misfired and cut an angled surface about ten degrees off of what was beneath, and left. Every time I passed by this cabinet, I had to look at this bad work. It has been about a weekend for me to rebuild the cabinet underneath to match the existing doors, and to fit the lines of the new cabinet to the actual angle of his bad cut. I took the opportunity to address the fact that no one used that space as a desk. Hence I reconfigured it as a cabinet to improve our appliance storage. Once it’s all painted and cleaned up, no one should know the difference. Still, it makes me wonder how someone who is presumably an adult, can do something which makes the world WORSE, and can live with it. It’s a weird injustice that leaves me to fix the mess he left behind.
And that is what adults do. We fix what we can, and leave the rest. It’s about the best we can manage, and I guess God is going to have to fill in the blanks. Sufficient to the day, are the evils thereof. But fixing something small within my own footprint helps me know that I did at least SOMETHING to make the world just a little better.