BEing Journal – A Cupful of Life
I had the privilege of speaking at an annual intelligence conference last week about “striving for wellbeing amongst the chaos”. My presentation was in the context of a high-pressure profession, where peak performance is the requirement every day! My goal was to present the science, as well as some strategies for self-awareness and life balance. As this topic really is applicable to everyone, I have decided to share it with my BEing project subscribers over the next few weeks.
I believe that finding wellbeing under the pressure of life is crucial for us all, as professionals, as leaders, as parents, and as individuals. This rapidly changing world has challenges of mammoth proportions that are demanding the very best of us, if we are to see society and humanity move safely through both the realities and the unknowns of our future.
My hope is that we can navigate a path to BEing Well, in every sense of the word, while reaching our potential of performance, and while also living with the repeated and sustained pressures of life!
This is not simply about our professional life, our job, our 9–5 role – this is about life. All of it.
As much as we love to mentally segment our lives into separate compartments and to wear different hats for each of our roles – in the private world of our brain these segmentations have little meaning. It is ALL life!
So whether we feel the pressure and annoyance from being interrupted for the millionth time by our child while we are trying to focus on our email inbox; the pressure and nervousness of taking the final shoot at the goal that will win or lose the game for our team; the pressure to respond to an emergency; or a work deadline; our minds react to pressure the same way – the biology and neurology is the same – it is universal across us all. We all have the inbuilt need to be constantly moving – towards what we do want and away from what we don’t.
It’s all life and it adds up to ‘what’s in my cup’.
The cup contains everything that makes up our lives, everything that impacts us. And at the very top of the cup is our pressure threshold. Add any more to the cup and it will overflow and there will be a mess to clean up – mentally, emotionally, or physically.
Our job is to keep what’s in our cup well below threshold so when crisis occurs, we are able to manage a new level of pressure without it overflowing.
What’s in each of our cups is as individual and unique as each of our lives. Each component in our cup plays a bigger or smaller importance in our lives depending on our history, our beliefs, our principles and our goals. We all have a different set point and a different tolerance to pressure based on a raft of factors including how our brain has experienced pressure in the past, and the meaning placed on it.
So, we all have a cup and its filled with our life. We essentially have two ways of ensuring our cup doesn’t overflow.
One is to remove stuff from our cup before we reach threshold – that’s what weekends and holidays are for! Sometimes we need to look carefully at what’s in our cup that is increasing our discomfort- this might be a relationship or perhaps a habit or two that is not serving us, and work to remove them or reduce their impact on us.
The other way is to keep stretching, growing a bigger cup by building coping mechanisms, building resilience and ensuring our cup has a good dose of the ‘good stuff’ that brings us enjoyment.
The good stuff helps us grow a bigger cup by firing up our pleasure centres, kicking off a healthy feel good dose of endorphins, balancing out the stress hormones, and giving us space to unwind, rest and restore – and be better prepared for the next emergency, crisis, or deadline that requires us to be functioning at 100%. Peak performance needs a cup stretched by ample good stuff and filled well under threshold……..