My cousin from Moscow is in town this week. He’s one of those remarkable people that can party up a storm while staying entirely composed and, more importantly, perfectly coherent. I watched him in complete amazement as he wined and dined our company last night. He makes marvelous split-minute decisions that instantaneously result in a good time for everyone, and I admire his ability to do this.
Not so long ago, in my very early twenties, I was somewhat similar. If there was a party, a get together, or something really fun was happening, I would be willing to go, usually at last minute, with a lot of support from my friends. I am marveled by how much my life has changed in this regard; I am not like that anymore and sometimes I feel really bad about it.
With my current list of responsibilities, I pledge my allegiance to order and firmly believe that structure is my friend, but I notice, deep inside, that I’m annoyed at my lack of spontaneity. My inability to get in touch with the wilder side of my personality is causing me a bit of psychosocial stress. I feel like my lack of flexibility is negatively impacting my relationships with the carefree individuals that often surround me.
When I think about this conflict of interest, I can feel myself start to get nervous and depressed; I pace and I twitch, and bite my lips continuously. I often try to view myself as an objective spectator and so I think about the cortisol, dopamine and adrenalin circling in my body, and how they’re causing me to behave this way.
While at that moment I may feel jittery and energetic, I think about my upcoming crash, where I’ll become drained and dejected as the epinephrine wears off and the cortisol messes with my immune system. I wonder if my stress will cause me to catch a cold, or worse, the flu, and whether that will cause me to miss out on more fun. It’s a bummer.
I have decided to try mindfulness meditation. Recent neurocognitive studies indicate that it increases the amount of gray matter found in the brain. It is a major component of the central nervous system, which helps regulate emotions and cognitive functions. Mindfulness meditation helps increase self-awareness, thereby reducing my stress response by guiding conscious thought. Basically put, it prevents my mind from wondering off into these pity parties.
I realize that the first thing I should do to make myself fun again is to stop worrying about being fun, and simply accept my present circumstances. At the same time, I should make time to enjoy myself so that I don’t spend time compromising my own immune system and cognitive function by feeling sorry for myself, so that next time, I can be a mindful participant of fun.–Liz Belilovskaya