I was driving my car on a long-distance journey. I took a while to adjust to the tension of driving at high speed. Eventually I settled into a new frame of mind and felt relaxed as the km’s sped by.
After a couple of hours I started becoming aware of the fact you never really relax when driving at high speed…your mind just seems to attune to the higher stress. Roadside signs saying “drowsy drivers die – pull over for a break” started leaping out at me. These days we have to be told we’re tired before we realize it – the cemeteries are full of people who didn’t! So I pulled over. A few minutes of rest and I was on my way again, feeling better.
But it didn’t take long for me to again feel tired. So I stopped for lunch…found a spot under a shady tree, away from the ‘highway environment’, and settled down to my sandwich and a book. Such a long trip meant the car needed attention too. Certainly it needed regular top-ups of fuel. But also I needed to ensure it had been well maintained and regularly serviced to guard against the possibility of breakdowns along the way. Soon I was ready to complete my journey – my car and I both feeling re-energized!
As the hours passed I got to thinking. Life’s a lot like a long-distance car trip.
To illustrate my point, let’s do a maintenance check on you.
Ever thought how hard you are driving yourself these days? It’s so much part of your daily life that you probably don’t even think twice about how fast you’re going or how much energy you’re burning. You’re driving longer, faster and harder than ever before – especially at work – let alone having to negotiate the ever-stifling traffic snarls along the way.
There aren’t many road signs warning you to take a break. Nor do you have a built-in fuel gauge, telling you how much energy you have left. Ok, so you go home for a sleep each night. But, like the car, you’ll stop burning energy, but it doesn’t do much to re-energize you for the next day.
Then there’s your long-distance maintenance and service program. You need a personal service station – opportunities to top up your energy supplies and ensure your engine keeps purring along so that you can withstand the pressures of prolonged excessive stress. Like driving your car, you need a personal maintenance program designed to minimize the cost and frustrations of breakdowns along the journey. Breakdowns that, at best, only delay your journey and, at worst, could cause you to burn out and stop you from getting where you want to go.
Your service station isn’t a physical place. It’s a haven of the mind, found in a passionate interest that takes your mind totally away from the stresses of life’s highway. It’s more than a rest.
It provides a positively enjoyable, energizing and absorbing experience. One in which time seems to stand still and problems are temporarily set aside, sometimes they even disappear. You experience a ‘state of flow’ in which mind, body and spirit blend as one. Nor does it end there. A ripple effect spreads throughout everything else you do, reviving and enhancing your self-esteem, self-confidence, self-belief and your overall sense of self-worth.
It doesn’t have to be a physical interest. It’s any interest that makes you feel good about yourself, seeing yourself as being life-rich, rather than time-poor. It needs to be an interest unrelated to work or any other of the stress-generating obligations in your life. Any regularly experienced interest that gives you the resilience, enthusiasm and energy to get back on the road of life and drive with a sense of confidence that you will reach your desired destination.