faith · family · motherhood · Orthodoxy · saints

Less Stress

Mark Zuckerberg is a genius, but not for the obvious reason of being one of the co-founders of Facebook. He is also the networking website’s CEO, and is said to have a net worth of over $30 billion…still not why I think he is a genius.  His one dollar salary from Facebook is pretty great, but again I am not all that impressed by numbers, big or small.

What I am impressed by are his habits, the habits that are the foundation for his success.  When my husband told me that Zuckerberg wears a gray t-shirt almost everyday my ears perked up, and not because my husband was making a case for his own gray t-shirt, the t-shirt he says is lucky, the t-shirt he wears every time it is clean, the t-shirt that I don’t “get”.

My wheels began to turn because of the reason Zuckerberg gives for this very quirky habit.  He says that deciding what to wear everyday is a “silly” thing that he would rather not waste time on.  After a quick search I came up with a quote of his concerning his gray t-shirt that I thought was what embodied this young entrepreneur’s real genius,

“I really want to clear my life so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”

He also thinks deciding what he will eat for breakfast is a waste of time.  And I could not agree more.  How did this young fella learn this at such a young age…how to manage energy in this way?  I am just now learning the principal of energy conservation and how to manage stress from the inside out not the outside in.

When I was a young mother and wife I thought that managing time, stress, and energy meant I needed to overhaul my house, make strict schedules, and crack down on discipline.  After stumping my toe on that perfectionist bed post enough times I have slowly become aware of where the stress that makes life “undoable” comes from and how to go about managing my life in a real and sustainable way.

The most important thing I have learned is that stress is an internal battle, not an external problem.  There are real external challenges that we face as human beings living on this flawed planet; sickness, disease, poverty, conflict, and pain. But the stress we feel as we live among the thorns and thistles is something of a phenomenon that occurs when we cannot surrender.  Being out of control, in any shape or form is what stress is all about.  The real trick of living in this world is to become aware of what we can and cannot control and act accordingly.

Over and over again I notice that successful people live the serenity prayer:

The serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
The courage to change the things I can, 
and especially, The wisdom to know the difference.  

To know the difference…that is key.
To know the difference between what I can and cannot control.

What I wear, what I eat for breakfast are all under my control…for now.  These are simple decisions that do not have to be a stress…they can become passionless.  And when the ascetics speak of passionlessness I wonder if this is how to walk that out in everyday life?  Passionlessness for a mother and wife is about “doing” without passion.  What I wear should not make me anxious or lustful or prideful.  And this is where a gray t-shirt everyday comes in handy.  Simplicity practiced on a regular basis is a great tool in calming of the passions.

Simple habits of success.
Simple habits that eliminate unnecessary passion.
Simple habits that conserve energy that would best be spent elsewhere.

It is hard for me to admit that stress is a passion.  It is hard for me to imagine a life without stress…is it even possible?  And then I ponder the Panagia and her life. Her fiat makes it all clear, “Be it unto me according to Thy word.”

Her habit, her way, her pondering, her perfection…made perfect in surrender.

Stress is not a habit of the Kingdom.

Lately I have been pondering where my stress really comes from, and the passions that cause it.  I am also learning to accept  what I cannot change and stop wasting energy on those things.  I am learning to recognize the sources of my stress…things like perfectionism, sentimentalism, pride, greed, and unbelief…learning to stop sinful thoughts and thought patterns.  Stress begins with imaginations.

Managing a home is a lot like managing a corporation, and I am the CEO of this enterprise.  What kind of a leader am I?  Home management is not about perfectionism…it is about creating an environment where stress is at a minimum… where passionlessness is a goal.  It is about creating a haven from the world of pain and sorrow, a place where those who need rest find it in it’s fullness, body and soul.

I like Zuckerman’s attitude.  He wants to eliminate stress to be able to serve his community better.  I like that…eliminating stress is not about making “me” feel better (although it is a great side effect).

Eliminating stress is about having the energy to serve God and my family better.

It’s what I work towards…what I seek…what I hope for… passionless passion.

Prayer to Our Lord Jesus Christ 

O Ruler of all, Word of the Father, O Jesus Christ, Thou Who art perfect: For the sake of the plenitude of Thy mercy, never depart from me, but always remain in me Thy servant. O Jesus, Good Shepherd of Thy sheep, deliver me not over to the sedition of the serpent, and leave me not to the will of Satan, for the seed of corruption is in me. But do Thou, O Lord, worshipful God, holy King, Jesus Christ, as I sleep, guard me by the Unwaning Light, Thy Holy Spirit, by Whom Thou didst sanctify Thy disciples. O Lord, grant me, Thine unworthy servant, Thy salvation upon my bed. Enlighten my mind with the light of understanding of Thy Holy Gospel; my soul, with the love of Thy Cross; my heart, with the purity of Thy word; my body, with Thy passionless Passion. Keep my thought in Thy humility, and raise me up at the proper time for Thy glorification. For most glorified art Thou together with Thine unoriginate Father, and the Most-holy Spirit, unto the ages. Amen.

 – Prayer of St. Antiochus

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