Ok, just so you know: I don't do New Year's resolutions. It's always the same every year anyway:
Jog three miles a day
Shop less; learn French
Streamline my personal belongings
Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.
So now I have a new approach to self-improvement - finding the most perfect stress busters. And here they are:
Be a divergent thinker - look at things in new ways.
Once there was a little bird who decided to stay in the North for the winter. However, it soon turned so cold that he reluctantly started to fly south. Ice began to form on his wings. Almost frozen, he fell to earth in a pasture. A cow wandered over and - excuse the verb - pooped on the little bird. Our feathered friend thought it was the end.
But the manure was warm and defrosted his wings. Comfortable, happy and able to breathe, he started to sing. Just then, a cat came by and hearing the chirping, investigated. The cat cleared away the manure, found the singing bird, and promptly ate him.
The moral of the story is: Anyone who dumps a little brown present on you is not necessarily your enemy. Anyone who pulls you out a pile of manure is not necessarily your friend. And - if you're warm and happy in that pile - keep your mouth shut!
Find every opportunity to laugh. Humor has been found to consistently help us deal with obstacles, road blocks and bumps in the road. Humor reduces stress, helps keep things in proper perspective and takes the edge off. Employing humor helps us concentrate less on our disappointments, frustrations and woes and more on what's fine in our lives. I keep a feel-good basket near my computer. Every time I come across a good joke, I print it out, fold it up and toss it in the basket. When darkness descends and despair come calling, I pluck one out and read it. And feel better.
Here's one of my favorites:
One day in the Garden of Eden, Eve calls out to G-d. "Lord, I have a Problem!"
"What's the problem, Eve?"
"Lord, I know you created me and provided this beautiful garden and all of these wonderful animals and that hilarious snake, but I'm just not happy."
"Why is that, Eve?" came the reply from above.
"Lord, I am lonely, and I'm sick to death of apples."
"Well, Eve, in that case, I have a solution. I shall create a man for you."
"What's a man, Lord?"
"A man is a flawed creature, with many flawed character traits. He'll be stubborn, vainglorious, and self-absorbed. All in all, he'll probably give you a hard time. But...he'll be bigger, faster and will revel in childish things like fighting and kicking a ball about. He won't be too smart, so he'll also need your advice to think properly."
"Sounds great," says Eve, with an ironically raised eyebrow. "But what's the catch, Lord?"
"Well... you can have him on one condition."
"What's that, Lord?" Eve asks.
"As I said, he'll be proud, arrogant and self admiring...so you'll have to let him believe that I made him first. Just remember, it's our little secret...you know, woman to woman.
Molt. Ever eat lobster? Ever heard the term molt - an interesting activity the lobster engages in? Molt is to cast or shed a shell. Here's some interesting facts:
In the first 5 years of life, a lobster molts or sheds its shell up to 25 times. As an adult, it molts about once a year.
As the shell weakens, the lobster seeks out safe areas in the water to molt and protect himself as he readies to shed the old shell. Why? Because he is very vulnerable and in danger at this point - the new shell is not as strong nor as durable as the old one.
And because the new shell is soft and more prone to invasions, the lobster eats part of its old shell to help harden the new one more quickly.
Remember when your mom bought you a winter coat one size larger than you needed? What did she say? "You'll grow into it."
To sign up for Iris's weekly newsletter, visit www.irisruthpastor.com or follow her on Twitter @IrisRuthPastor.