Life Advice From Google Maps
Listening to directions brought my stress to a halt.
The holidays stress out many people, including me. Sometimes it’s spending time with negative family members. Sometimes it’s the financial strain of gift-giving, sometimes it’s feeling the need to be at every holiday party with a smile on your face. It can all feel overwhelming at times.
However, this holiday season taught me a valuable lesson regarding stress.
I’m the middle child between two sisters. Because of where we all live now, we only get to see each other a few times a year. Recently, we had a day to go Christmas shopping together, so the three of us took over the stores hyped up on flavored coffees and sisterly nostalgia.
When dinner time rolled around, we consulted Google’s “near me” restaurant suggestions. We made our choice and headed out for burgers, fries, and milkshakes. Little Sister drove while Big Sister cited Google’s directions from the back seat. We should have realized something was amiss when we started meandering down narrow side streets and avoiding the highway. But our conversation down memory lane distracted us from any thoughts we might have had regarding Google’s guidance. When we pulled into a college campus, none of us gave it a second thought.
It didn’t occur to me we might be going the wrong way until Little Sister announced, “Um…this is a dead-end parking lot. Are we going the right way?”
“Ok, now just park, get out, and walk two minutes,” Big Sister answered.
After looking at each other for a split second, Little Sister and I burst out laughing.
Big Sister offered up her phone. “It really says that. Look. There’s even a dashed line where we’re supposed to walk.”
After realizing Big Sister was not pulling the best prank of her life on her two younger sisters, all three of us laughed hard enough that tears stained our cheeks. Google had sent us to a campus cafeteria.
I’ve now learned (and hopefully both my sisters as well) not to blindly follow Google map suggestions – although that’s the smaller lesson taken here.
“Ok, now just park. Get out. And walk two minutes.”
Those words hid a more important lesson for me.
“Everyone needs a time and place to pause.” – John C. Maxwell
In his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John C. Maxwell describes how reflection turns our experiences into insight. Without pausing to reflect, we can’t possibly learn from our experiences in life.
I’d let the holiday hullabaloo overwhelm me for weeks. My shopping adventures with my sisters helped relieve some of that stress, but Google’s directions saved my sanity. Any time I feel the frustration and bewilderment of life, I recall my trip of misdirection.
Not only does the memory make me chuckle aloud, it reminds me how to keep feelings of overwhelm from consuming me. It gives me an internal dialogue I can use.
“Ok, just park” becomes “Ok, just pause.” Pause my thinking, pause whatever it is that I’m doing, simply pause.
“Get out” becomes “get away.” I try to distance myself from the problem or issue, if possible. Sometimes this means to step away from something physically. Sometimes this means to take a mental break from thinking about the problem, which usually consists of me physically doing something else to get out of that headspace.
“Walk two minutes” becomes “take some time.” The exact amount of time depends on the amount of overwhelm or frustration I’m dealing with. Even two minutes of concentrating on my breath, and nothing else can have a substantial positive effect on my feelings. Practicing meditation every morning has helped me strengthen my ability in this area.
“There’s no substitute for the practice of meditation.” – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
“Okay, now just park. Get out. And walk two minutes.” This is my new mantra — the new tool in my emotionally healthy arsenal.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I’ll never feel stressed again. But maybe I’ll be better equipped to deal with that stress when it rears its ugly head.