Live the (Stress-Free) Life You Want: Prioritizing for Happiness

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Why Prioritizing Is Necessary

Overwhelmed, busy people often feel the solution to their problem is becoming more organized. Indeed, as someone said to me, organizing is the new dieting: Everyone wants to do it, few are successful at it, and even those who reform themselves commonly revert to their former state. While disorganization is a serious problem, getting organized is not the cure-all for the frenzy, no more than losing weight is the key to happiness. Just as you can be thin and miserable, you can be very organized and still feel overwhelmed.

But feelings of being frazzled and out of control can be switched off when they are replaced with other, more positive emotions. Meaningful connections drain away the too-busy blues. Pick the connections that matter most to you -- people, places, activities, pets, a spiritual connection, a piece of music, even objects that are dear to you -- and nourish them religiously.

The challenge is, with your jammed schedule, how do you preserve time for bingo with Grandma, book-club dates with a friend, a weekend away with your spouse, working out at the gym, or booking those oft-planned piano lessons? You must do it deliberately and consciously. Being selective is crucial. Commitments are like flowers in a garden: If you overplant, none will thrive. Hold the line on how many commitments you make. You must choose. Give yourself permission to get rid of whatever hinders you, whether it's projects or people. Yes, people. It can be hard to accept, but you simply can't keep up with too large a number of friends. If there are too many, they all become burdens rather than joys as you labor to stay in touch with the multitude. Being selective may seem cruel, but in the long run it not only is essential but kind -- to everyone.

Continued on page 3:  Step 1. Wean Yourself from Distractions


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