Micro and macro moments of bliss
Before Christmas, my editor Victoria Woodward and I met for dinner to celebrate each other’s presence in our lives and to catch up. That was a great highlight in my social life: genuine connection, truthful stories, and a strengthened friendship. I felt so lucky and walked away inspired at a time famous for leaving us tired and wishing to rest before the new year. It was a true moment of bliss!
She recommended that I read The Stress Solution written by a GP Rangan Chatterjee. Victoria is a superhero in my eyes. She has tons of energy, an amazing wordsmith talent, she is a yoga instructor, mother to two kids and the main breadwinner. Like the rest of us, she is no stranger to stress and we’re just finalising my next book on a mind-body technique that can help anyone become calmer, wiser and more empowered.
Stress is common
I’m no stranger to stress too. High work volumes and multiple demands myself are a norm. As a productivity coach, I too wear many professional hats. I’m also a creative and an inventor. There are many days when 24 hours just does not feel enough! This is why I invented the Grid. I needed to find a system that would protect me from overworking and keep me more healthy, productive and balanced. And I’m very passionate about helping others find their way out of stress madness.
Many of my clients are ambitious academics who are notoriously stressed. Needing to cope with constant deadlines, juggling demanding teaching schedules, and having to produce results and publications not to mention win money for their ideas is exhausting. It requires physical and mental endurance. But there is also a massive emotional toll. One of the academics’ constant worries is being found “not good enough” by people trained to be aggressively critical. And the work often goes home with them at the end of the day. Without productive habits, the most likely outcome is severe burnout.
People working other jobs are no different. They too face demanding deadlines, conflicting demands, and organisational cultures frequently at odds with their own value sets. With a constant drive to lower costs and machine learning, many fear losing their job. They often come armed to the teeth with technology, itself a major stressor desperate to stay connected. And yet, to be at their best they must learn to shift how they work.
Finally entrepreneurs and creatives – my third client group – are wide open to stress. Being independent means having to create results that also pay your financial obligations. But what if your film project gets pulled or is delayed along with your pay? This is much harder when you lack the security of a regular paycheck. Working on multiple projects and with very diverse groups of people is the norm here but how do you figure out why the person at Netflix is blanking your e-mails. Then there’s the stress and fear of being rejected which hurts a lot. To follow their true creative visions, artists need productive skills as well as calm instead of mental and emotional chaos.
Stress comes in micro and macro doses too
In his book, Dr. Chatterjee introduces the concept of micro stress doses or MSDs. MSDs are little things that create stress in our lives. Here are a few examples:
- pings from texts,
- cold weather,
- late trains,
- discovering you have to tea bags left or the milk has run out,
- our kids oversleeping for school.
Against the backdrop of these MSDs, sit large stresses such as
- health worries,
- instability of employment,
- pressure to fit in,
- fear of rejection and failure,
- and need to do every more just to keep up.
And while we can often cope and respond well to the bigger stresses, we underestimate the power of MSDs to sink us like the Titanic.
This idea reminds me of the power of small habits in helping us make an important life change. It’s also why I’m a big believer in hard work and consistency over gimmicks.
We get good ideas in flow with life, not when we’re stressed
I was shocked to discover how many of these MSDs an average person encounters per day. There can be 20 in just 10min of a morning routine. And as I read on, I realised they were present in my life too. In fact, they were everywhere. Each one ready to drain me of energy. At times I could really see their power in weakening my willpower. I chewed over this in my mind for days and spoke to my partner about it at great length over the holidays as I could see MSDs at work in my life. Dr. Chatterjee hit a nerve.
MSDs were my enemy and I was powerless against them. Take my emergency toothache over the holidays. Here I was minding my own business only to have to face the challenge of
- find a surgeon,
- health bills I did not plan for,
- time in hospitals and appointments I did not want in my diary,
- great physical discomfort,
- and chaos to my otherwise well planned January.
Ok. I know. This pales in comparison to some of my clients who care for stage 4 cancer partners, or who are on a brink of another major personal adversity. But challenges and our response to them are a bit like pain. We all have a threshold beyond which only tears come.
And then I had an experience that inspired this blog and a personal Eureka moment.
I was a recipient of a “micro bliss moment” or MBM. The MBM came from my partner who managed, in the few precious moments of morning hassle and bustle, to make me feel absolutely amazing and deeply loved. As I contemplated how lovely this felt, I began thinking back to a dinner I had with a good friend and colleague Kathleen Sullivan. There too I could feel myself re-experiencing a similar bliss of warmth and friendship. It was the same feeling I felt meeting Victoria. And a big idea dawned on me that I think can significantly change your life. It is certainly changing mine. The basis of it is well supported by positive psychology and neuroscience research that I will explain in another blog.
My Big Idea!
Forget MSDs. They are dark and many of them you simply can’t control no matter what.
- Things will change because change is a constant.
- The world will still remain unfair.
- People will not always love you forever or accept and receive you warmly.
- And, you may not always have your health.
In fact, while you may get frozen or cloned, so far, life, as we know it, has a definite endpoint.
These are the realities of life. They will stress you tons if you let them or you can become more resilient against them by paying attention to micro and macro bliss moments, or MBMs.
Experience of simple bliss helps us feel better and makes us more productive, and it’s free!
MBMs are everywhere. They can be:
- a colleague offering to make you a cup of tea in the office
- a smile from your kid at the breakfast table seeking a precious second of true eye-to-eye contact that says “I see you!”
- a nice blue sky and warm air you expected to brace on your way to work
Micro and macro bliss moments or MBMs help
- your mind naturally refuel,
- your heart grow lighter,
- your body come alive,
- and your spirit soar higher.
And let’s face it – it’s the state you need to be in to face this crazy, weird world of stress.
Invitation to create
We can create bliss moments for others and ourselves. It’s why we have a mind, a heart, our bodies, and spirit.
The more we choose to create, experience and share bliss, the more positive we feel. Best performance and life happen here.
In fact, creating bliss moments will help us feel better and enrich our sense of purpose.
Do you want to take things further?
If you want to learn how to
- up your productivity, so you have less stress and more time to think
- learn to be in the world in a way that has inner resonance instead of leaving you feeling empty
- develop your leadership skills
- and connect with other like-minded people and me
Join our mailing list or find our Grid community online. The Grid group is free to join and there are no e-mails in your mailbox. It is a place where people share resources, ideas and their tips on how to balance work, life, career, and self-care.
And if you need more personal help, I coach people towards mind, heart, body and spirit alignment.
It’s a journey worth making as it brings you into your fuller existence.
There you will find purpose and inner calm.
And there are many different ways to get there!
Whatever you do, do something that helps you live a better life.
Recommended books to explore further
- The Stress Solution by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee for useful tips
- Atomic Habits by James Clear for wisdom
- Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman for a useful practice
- Get Productive Grid by me, for a tool that works and will help you discover your own practice, wisdom, and tips.