Sunday, May 08, 2005

I want to be the boss

I've come to the conclusion that the more control you have over your own life, the less stressful it will be.

Take, for instance, heating oil. Here in New England the price goes up, up, up. Now with automobile gas, you can just choose to drive less, but you have to have heat. The oil company brings the oil to your house and they tell you how much you will pay. You can't barter, you can't "talk them down." It's whatever they're charging and that's it. We have a contract with an oil company and they come every so often and fill up the tank. We don't even know the current price until we get the bill in the mail the next day. That's stressful.

That's why Ed and I want to be as independent as possible. The more you depend on others to do something, the more control you give away. I guess I'm one of these people that they talk about when they say, "If you want it done right, do it yourself." Not that I can do it right, but at least I know to show up on time, what deadlines are, how important a certain task is, etc. (I'm thinking now of a cleaning lady who cleaned our kitchen recently and was supposed to come back in 3 days to clean a laundry sink - never showed, never called, never heard from again.)

Specifically with heating, Ed can buy the wood, saw the wood, split the wood, and store the wood. Unless, God forbid, he had an accident or something, our heating with wood is pretty much dependent on Ed himself doing his job (which he does). For the same reason, when we move we want to get a generator and not depend on the electric company to keep things going in the event of an ice storm or something like that. Self-reliance.

I figure there are two keys to keeping your life as stress-free as possible. The first is my favorite prayer, the Serenity Prayer, which is familiar to most everyone. Change the things you can, accept the things you can't change, and having the wisdom to know the difference. I can't change the price of heating oil, but I can certainly move to a small, cozy house that can be heated almost totally with wood.

The second key came from my friend Sally, and before her from Viktor Frankl in his book Man's Search for Meaning. Sally and I are medical transcriptionists and we "met" on an MT site, finally got to meet in person for a few days, and now "meet" again on the web. A question was asked on the site about how to deal with difficult dictators. Here is what Sally wrote:
When I get a dictator that is difficult for me, I always try to put myself in his/her shoes. Often I can hear in their voice that they are tired, rushed, frustrated, puzzled, concerned, happy, sad, or even if they just don't feel well. Sometimes, that alone helps me to "hear" better. I have even prayed for them. Theirs is not an easy job.

I can't repeat one sentence of dictation even at regular speed without tripping over my tongue. I don't know how they manage to get it out at the speed of light.

That second step for me is found in her quote. It is attitude. Sally has a remarkable attitude toward dealing with difficult dictators. She becomes empathetic and relates to them on a different, more personal level. The same theme was written by Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor. His book details what he learned from those horrible experiences. Here is what he had to say:

Everything can be taken from a man but ...the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
So if we control the things we can (trying to simplify our lives and making decisions that enhance this goal), accept the things we can't control (having an accepting, peace-filled attitude), and really pay attention to the difference between to two (wisdom), we will be so much better off!

The use of the Serenity Prayer and its corresponding attitude adjustment can affect all areas of our lives - from eating to finances to how we spend our time and energy. Oh, I have so much more growing to do!

1 comment:

Tif said...

Good advice for me to start my Monday, given that I awoke this morning to dog diarrhea all over the kitchen floor :-)

Suggestion on the cozy, wood-heated home of the future: why not try solar? Less pollution, less fire danger (how well you know THAT!), less destructive to forests, less dependent on the electric/oil companies, and less injury potential to your wood-chopping hubby. Maybe even cheaper in the long run.