Beat Stress By Mark Tong Have you lost your enthusiasm for life? No sparkle? No pizazz? No bounce? Did you just wake up one morning and find yourself feeling flat? Or did you notice it slowly escaping day after day? Either way, its’ gone, leaving you feeling deflated. Because living without enthusiasm is like driving your car with four flat tires. You can do it, but you won’t get far. And if you do, it won’t be worth the cost. So how do you rediscover your enthusiasm for life? I asked myself that very question one gray morning not so long ago. You see, Mark and I get up early most mornings, (well 4.45am feels early to us). But lately it had felt horribly early. Even the extra strength coffee wasn’t enough — oh boy, maybe we were turning into a couple of old grouches 🙁 But we’d persevered, pulling out our laptops and starting in on the morning routine as always, moving forwards… …slowly. More and more slowly each day in fact. We got to the point where we were snailing through our tasks. But we honestly didn’t notice until one more missed deadline gave us a sharp wake up call. Time out. Do you want to know how we solved our problem? How we found out enthusiasm? How I leaped out of bed this morning to write this? We walked away. Yep, we shut up shop. Literally put our laptops in the farthest corner for the day. Closed the office. And went looking for our enthusiasm. And what an amazing thing intuition is! It was like watching one of those movies where the main character is led by a mystical force to an unexpected place. And then discovers the answer that was staring them in the face all the time. And so it was with us re-discovering our enthusiasm. I’d so love for you to rediscover yours. Here’s 4 steps to do just that…… 1. Look up We’d had our heads down for so long, that we hadn’t noticed our work rate had slowed to a near-grind. If you find yourself struggling, look up and take an honest look at how you’re doing. Are you taking way longer to do the same task? Are you getting less of a result? 2. Stop We’ve made some huge promises, to ourselves and to others and we’re never ones to let anyone down. So stopping was hard, because we knew that meant more missed deadlines (a whole weekend’s worth!) However, it was essential. Even if you need to break one promise or deadline now, it will save a heartache of broken ones later. 3. Get yourself into a good mood. We were tired, really tired. And we’ve learned the hard way that looking at anything logically when we’re tired is a disaster — it simply ends up in an emotionally-wrought mess-fest of confusion! So on Sunday evening, we, well Mark, cooked the most delicious, gourmet dinner and set the table so beautifully — we felt we’d eaten in the finest Parisian bistro. Do whatever it takes: sleep, walk, eat an incredible meal. You won’t have any capacity to think logically until you step out of your funk. 4. Look for what’s changed. With our second jug of Mark’s special house blend coffee, we had fun remembering how we used to feel joy when we worked. So unpick what’s different in the way that you go at your tasks now. Work your way back to the way you went at things naturally. That’s where your enthusiasm is hiding. And maybe try this one extra step… Declutter your house. We did – and it worked! So what does decluttering your house have to do with re-discovering your enthusiasm? Do you remember the old maxim ‘A healthy mind in a healthy body’? Well, to paraphrase it, it was a case of ‘A cluttered mind in a cluttered environment’. Your cluttered house is mirroring your cluttered mind. And more than that, it’s helping create your cluttered mind. If you want to know the state of your mind, look at your house, your garage, your car. In fact, just check out your handbag or wallet. A cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind. And enthusiasm hates clutter, mental or physical. And research has shown that clutter leads to greater levels of stress, a sure enthusiasm killer. When we looked at our house, all we saw was confusion, duplication and disarray. We’d got complicated without even realizing.We’d ignored our natural, simple way of doing things. Have you ever felt like you were just going through the motions? And those motions we getting slower and slower, harder and harder…and more and more stressful? Try the four steps above. And then try decluttering your house as well. Decluttering your house, or car or handbag won’t always work, but before getting any more complicated, just open a drawer or closet. And you might just find your enthusiasm hidden under all that clutter.