Transforming Overwhelm, Burden Into Something Powerful

Change in mindset can work wonders, open up new worlds
By Leo Babauta, www.zenhabits.net
September 23, 2019 Updated: September 23, 2019

How many of you have felt overwhelmed recently by everything you have to do?

How many of you have felt something you have to do—or everything you have to do—is a burden?

Many of us feel like the tasks of life are overwhelming. Almost all of us see things this way sometimes. It seems like it’s something hardwired into us.

It stems from how we look at the world and our life. But it’s changeable. It starts by shifting our perspective.

Instead of seeing the world as a burden, can we see it as a gift?

Instead of seeing the world as difficulty and struggle, can we see it as a possibility and opportunity?

Instead of thinking that we have too much to do, can we see the joy in each task, and see that a pile of tasks is an abundance of possibility?

Yes, we have many things to do, and we feel like we don’t have enough time to do them all. But we all have the same amount of time, and all we can do is one task at a time. We can get better at choosing which tasks to do (prioritizing), but in the end, there’s never any certainty that we’re doing the right tasks.

While we can expand our capabilities through automation, delegation, and outsourcing, experience tells us that even doing all of that, we still have too many tasks to do. The problem doesn’t go away with these resources.

The amount of tasks isn’t the problem, because we’ll always have too many to do. The problem comes partly from overcommitting to too much, but even if we get better at that, we often still feel overwhelmed and burdened.

The only real solution is a change in mindset: to see everything we have to do as a gift, as possibility and opportunity, as an abundance of joy. We need to accept that we simply can’t do everything, and there will always be more things to do than we can ever get done.

So here’s a practice to deal with having too much to do:

  1. When you are overwhelmed, burdened, or fearful, pause and feel it. Let yourself be fully with it, experience it, feel it fully, and open up to it. Can you be curious about it? Can you find a way to love the feeling?
  2. See if you can see the tasks in front of you as a gift. You choose to do these things because you want to. They benefit you and others. Do them with love, and be grateful for the gift of each one.
  3. See if you can see the possibility and opportunity in each one. What can be done with them? How are they more open and vast than you think they are?
  4. Can you experience the abundance of joy in your list of tasks? If each one is a joyful gift, then isn’t there pure abundance in your list? You can dive into what you have to do and pull out an opportunity for joy and growth. It’s your chance to give something to the world.

Mindset shifts aren’t something we can just flip like a switch. They need to be consciously practiced, but new worlds open up if you do.

Leo Babauta is the author of six books, the writer of “Zen Habits,” a blog with over 2 million subscribers, and the creator of several online programs to help you master your habits. Visit ZenHabits.net

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