I love this quote from Laura Ingalls Wilder that I came across earlier this year in a blog post on The Happiness Project:
“We are so overwhelmed with things these days that our lives are all, more or less, cluttered. I believe it is this, rather than a shortness of time, that gives us that feeling of hurry and almost of helplessness. Everyone is hurrying and usually just a little late. Notice the faces of the people who rush past on the streets or on our country roads! They nearly all have a strained, harassed look, and anyone you meet will tell you there is no time for anything anymore.”
I love it not because it’s a deeply moving or lovely quote, but because of the insight that it provides to the fact that feeling overwhelmed is not anything new.
In other words:
The feeling of being being stressed and overwhelmed is not due to computers, or smart phones, or ‘the times we live in’.
The Myth of “The Good Ol’ Days”
We tend to romanticize the good ol’ days and blame our busyness on things external and new to our generation.
But after reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s quote, I realized that the feeling that life is racing past us and filled with clutter, chaos and stress – whether for a moment, a season, or a lifetime – is not something exclusive to our generation and all of its technology.
My point in all of this isn’t to give us an excuse to keep on moving forward into more chaos, because, oh well, that’s just how it is. Life has always been full of trials and tribulations. (Do we honestly believe that living through the Black Plague or the Great Depression was “simple”?)
What my point is, is to encourage us all to realize that no matter what our circumstances are, whether you were living on a farm in rural Missouri 100 years or in downtown Tokyo in 2013, if you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s because you are overwhelmed.
Stop the Cycle
The good news in all of that, is that it also means that you aren’t doomed to a life a stress due to external things that you have no control over. While stress can be caused by external forces, out of our control, our reaction to it comes from within – and that is within our control.
So take heed and don’t ignore it.
Don’t excuse it with the untruth that it’s because you live in 2013 and life is just crazy and things would have been different, if only you had lived in the easy breezy times of old.
Listen to your mind and body.
It’s talking to you.
It’s telling you something important: you have a choice.