Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.
The word “drama” has taken on an interesting meaning in recent years, beyond the performance form of fiction it’s traditionally signified: “making a big deal over something unnecessarily”.
It’s about making a big production of something, when you could simply get on with things.
Interestingly, the word “drama” comes from the Greek word for “action”, which in itself derives from a word that means “to do”. And doing turns out to be the answer for unnecessary “drama” (which, by the way, you would be wise to save for your mama or other such parental figure, according to popular television).
What’s the problem with drama? For one, as the urban definition implies, it’s unnecessary. There’s no need for histrionics when you can talk about and deal with things calmly. There’s no need to get overly emotional when you can breathe, release the tensions, and focus on being happy, now, in the moment.
It complicates things, makes a big deal of little things, and ignores the little things that should be a big deal: little things like simple pleasures, and gratitude, and the simple wonderful existence of life.
Drama makes life harder. If you lose your job, you can go into a depression (perhaps understandably) and lose your home and have a hard time finding a job again — often because of the depression. But if instead you stay calm, perhaps take the view that this is a fresh start and a way to pursue the dream you’ve never had the time to pursue, look at it as a way to learn new skills and reinvent yourself … things won’t be so hard.
If you have gotten fat, instead of making a big deal about it, go outside for a walk, and make it a simple daily habit (perhaps gradually turning it into a jog). And then just start eating fresher foods — fruits and veggies and beans and nuts — rather than unhealthy foods. Start cooking for yourself instead of eating fast food. The drama will only serve to get you depressed and fatter. Simply getting on with it will solve the problem, rather easily if you don’t make a big deal of it.
How to Stop the Drama
So when you feel yourself getting worked up about something — a coworker not pulling his weight, a spouse who isn’t living up to your expectations, a daughter who isn’t doing as well at school as you’d like — stop the drama.
Breathe. Let it go. Breathe in, taking in the peace of the world. Breathe out, and let the tensions and frustrations flow out of you. Repeat until the drama is gone.
And then simply be, in the moment, right now. When we get worked up about something, it’s usually about something that has already happened (in the past) or something that might happen, that’s coming up (in the future). Forget about all that right now (you can reflect on it later, when you’re calmer and dispassionate). Right now, focus on what you’re doing. This might be sitting in front of a computer, reading. Or walking. Or drinking a glass of water. Washing dishes. Driving. That’s what you’re doing, in the moment. That’s all you should think about. As you feel your mind returning to the past or the future, return it gently to what you’re doing right now. It takes practice.
Simply get on with it. Do what you need to do to calmly address the situation. Deal with it, in as simple a manner as possible. Forget all the complications — just do.
Overwhelmed with too much to do? Breathe, focus on what you are doing right now, and just focus on getting that done.
Tired of your horrible job? Breathe, focus on now, and do what needs to be done to deal with it.
Annoyed by someone? Let it go. Focus on what you’re doing, right now. And just get on with it.
If you start getting worked up again, start back at the first step.
Also, your mother probably doesn’t need your drama either, just fyi.
- On Zen Family Habits: How to Be a Minimalist with Kids
- On mnmlist.com: The art of brief emails