Why So Serious? The Importance of Letting it Go

August 19, 2015 D'Arcy McLeish
At Work, At Play. Take A Moment To Look Around And Breath It All In. Everything Else Can Wait.  Photo - D'arcy Mcleish
At work, at play. Take a moment to look around and breath it all in. Everything else can wait.
Photo – D’Arcy McLeish

Living in a ski town, I hear that mantra a lot. Just let it go. For just about everyone, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Life tends to be difficult for most of us, even those of us lucky enough to ski a hundred days a year. Bills, mortgages, kids, sickness, stress, injury, financial problems; it doesn’t matter where you live or what you do, all those problems exist for everyone. And they tend to be difficult to let go of. Worrying about life is normal and for myself, it can be tough to ‘let it all go’. But the older I get, the more I see that letting it go shouldn’t be something I try some of the time, but something I try all of the time. Life is serious enough without us making it worse so here are a few tips that might help you roll with things a little better.

Pretty Easy To Let It All Go When You're Waist Deep In The Trees.  Photo - Grant Baldwin
Pretty easy to let it all go when you’re waist deep in the trees.
Photo – Grant Baldwin

Do some exercise. Yep. Exercise. Why do you think, when you come on a ski holiday, that every local you meet seems so relaxed? For starters, all we do is exercise. That’s why we came to the mountains in the first place. We ski, climb, ride our bikes, run, hike, swim, paddle. Our play time is spent outside doing the things we love and most of those things are athletic, but more than that, they’re fun. That’s why we live here. Lots of us also do those things for a living as well. The result of all of that is first, we get to have fun and second, all that activity helps to calm our minds.

There's Nothing Like A Walk In The Woods To Clear Your Head.  Photo - D'arcy Mcleish
There’s nothing like a walk in the woods to clear your head.
Photo – D’Arcy McLeish

Get outside. This may sound like the above, but it’s not. I can exercise anywhere. Sure, all those sports are active, but I can work out in a gym, a hotel room, whatever. Exercise is important and helps us to stop chasing the mice in our heads, but being outside, or more specifically, enjoying the outdoors, is an awesome way to take life a little less seriously. Taking some time to just ‘be outside’ is good for the soul. Thoreau said he went to the woods because he ‘wanted to live deliberately…to suck the marrow out of life’. Enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer makes the choice of letting all your stress go easier. That experience doesn’t have to involve some sport, either. It can be anything; a walk through a park, a walk in the woods, sitting on a bench in your back garden, enjoying a good book. What it involves most is just being deliberately out there.

And You'll Never Know, When You Get Out There, What You'll See.  Photo - D'arcy Mcleish
And you’ll never know, when you get out there, what you’ll see.
Photo – D’Arcy McLeish

Understanding control. This is a big one. When you think about it, what do we have control over? Well, our behaviour, yes. But other than that? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We can’t control other people, places or things. In fact, most of everything is out of our control, so why bother even trying? What is it people say? Make a plan and the universe laughs. Yep. We don’t control anything. And trying to do so only leads to more stress. This is a difficult lesson and one I have struggled with all my life. But more and more, I just can’t be bothered anymore and because of that, things are simpler, clearer and life is so much more relaxed.

Dogs Have It Dialled.  Photo - D'arcy Mcleish
Dogs have it dialled.
Photo – D’Arcy McLeish

So take some time this week and go play outside. Go exercise and have some fun. Try and see that controlling everything only leads to more stress. Instead, embrace what seems like the chaos of your life and just relax. If that’s too hard, which it often is for me, then go tire yourself out first and then see if you can relax. That’s what I do. I go and ride my bike or hike up a mountain. Maybe I swim all afternoon or work out. Then I find myself a bench, a good book and cup of tea and spend some time, almost every week, just enjoying the outdoors. Sometimes it’s with my dog, who is always ready to show me that life is just not worth stressing over. We only get one of them, so do yourself a favour and let it go. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it might get.

Be safe, live easy.