The past few weeks at the office have been more stressful than most. I do fairly technical work on a regular basis and manage a small team of people at the same time. When there are outages caused by things ranging from equipment failures to widespread fallout from “denial of service attacks” online; it can quickly become a daunting task to fix problems, direct people, and manage expectations.

The problem is, this was just the most recent piece of a larger recent pattern. I realized this when someone very close to me stated, “You just don’t seem happy anymore.” Now they were not saying that I don’t joke around or enjoy life — it’s that my default resting state had become one that exhibits being down, worn out, and seemingly slightly depressed.


It was later that afternoon after reading some texts that ended with “You just don’t seem happy anymore.” that I had my moment of clarity. I tweeted the following:

Sometimes it takes being in the pressure cooker beyond any level of comfort to have a moment of clarity / zen.

I then wrote the following on a small index card:

  • Focus on habits
  • Work diligently & then defer / manage expectations
  • Remain joyful (not necessarily happy)

Focus on habits

There are certain daily and weekly goals I’ve set to make better habits for myself. When I don’t take time to work on those goals and meet at least some of them, I can feel generally down and unhappy with myself. It is important — daily — to spend a little time on yourself in the form of self maintenance or “bettering yourself” regardless of the perceived chaos you live and work in. Find that 15 minutes a couple times a day for your own well being and sanity.

Work diligently and then defer / manage expectations

We’re made to work; it’s good to exert effort and “do work”. If we’re taking good care of ourselves we should work diligently at what we set out to do. For me that means working hard each day to solve problems and enlist the help of others to solve problems. At times there are many “priorities” or “emergencies”. We can do our best to make judgement calls and work hard, yet at the end of the day there can be an important and difficult set of responsibilities we have.

  • Managing the expectations of others — which often times means being ok with disappointing others in a courteous and professional manner.
  • Deferring what isn’t complete to a future time.

Remain “joyful” (not necessarily happy)

Here’s the thing about happiness. It relies on happenings. In the midst of chaos and stress I think it’s important to remain “joyful”. In looking at definitions here is a difference between emotions that I liked:

  • happiness: outward expression of elation
  • joy: inward peace and contentment

To me it comes down to being mindful and thankful regardless of your happenings.

In summary

In the midst of what seems to be overwhelming stress remember to take care of yourself (focus on habits), work hard (work diligently & then defer / manage expectations), and don’t let yourself get down due to your happenings (remain joyful).