It's human to worry too much about what other people think, and being mostly human, I do this.
In spite of how happy my life makes me, I worry that others find my life disappointing or indulgent or lazy. I worry that my "To Do" list isn't long enough; I'm not suffering hard enough; I don't have three jobs and four kids; I don't do volunteer work; my house isn't even clean.
So, I search for justification every now and then, and stumbled across just that the other day when I watched a documentary about stress. It is called Stress: Portrait of a Killer. (It's streaming on Netflix if you're interested)
Now for starters, I could have told you stress is no good for you. At least not the kind of stress lots of people are under in their jobs these days -- the kind of stress that sends you running to the bathroom before you break Cardinal Rule No. 1 of working in an office: Never (unless someone has died) cry. Or the kind of stress that gives you palpitations so bad that you see purple dots during meetings with the CEO.
And, of course, the documentary agrees with me. One expert explains: We (American society) value the person who's got five major things going on at the same time. The person who is accomplishing a hell of a lot, every day of the year. So much that it seems inhuman. We admire that. And it is admirable, yes? To be so productive. What's not to admire?
Well, for one thing, it could kill you. Which is not new news, really. Stress resulting from overworking yourself (burning the candle at both ends, my mother would say) causes high blood pressure, fat deposits, cardiovascular disease, etc.
The expert says We need to change our values to admire the person who leads a balanced and serene life. Serenity is a beautiful world, and a beautiful thing to have. I recognize it in my life, now.
It's easier said than done for many people, so what the experts suggest is that you find something in your life that you can control. You are the boss of that thing, and you manage it well. It could be as simple as a garden. It could be the office softball team. It could be quitting your job and writing a novel from home. Just a suggestion...