We’ve all been on an airplane as it has hit turbulence. The quick jolts of up and down can be unnerving. The fact that an aircraft can tolerate such forces without being ripped apart is amazing. But it can take those forces because of the design and engineering. It turns out that the wings of a Boeing 787 can flex 26 feet before failing. Wow! 26 feet! That is A LOT of give.
So, what does this have to with health and wellness? One word… flexibility. Those that are too rigid in their ways, in their lives, tend to fail. Being more flexible leads to less stress, less frustration, and more happiness.
Rigidity is very apparent this time of year. The holidays tend to highlight peoples’ stiffness and strictness. They want everyone to come over on a particular day, or they want to do things in a particular way. I know a married couple whose parents are both divorced and remarried. This has created four separate homes that they need to visit on holidays. The problem is that each parent demands that they get to see them, and the grandchildren, on Christmas day. It’s a total nightmare for them, as they have to travel around northeast Ohio all day, dragging their children from place to place, and making this special day something they now dread.
On the flip side of that, many people with larger families will set aside a special day for the family to meet and celebrate that is on a day before or after the actual holiday. It eliminates conflict and avoids competing with other family members. It results in less stress, less resentment, less frustration, and allows for more quality time together.
When we loosen our grip on having to have things perfect all the time, life gets better. I’m a big fan of traditions and think honoring those traditions has great value. But as life shifts and times change, modifying those traditions, or creating new ones, is okay. Someone recently shared this quote with me… “Traditions… peer pressure from the dead.”
And it’s not just holidays. Being too rigid and set in our ways can lead to big problems. Especially if those ways are not serving us well. Our lifestyle habits, work habits, and daily routines may need to change. Digging our heels in and not budging can be a terrible strategy. A little more flexibility can open up new opportunities, ease tension, and allow for more peace and comfort.
I remember discussing/debating an outdated and unsafe medical procedure with a nurse one time. The more questions I asked, the more frustrated she became. She realized that she didn’t really even know why she was doing things the way she was doing them. At the peak of her frustration, she blurted out “This is the way we’ve always done it.” Upon hearing those words come out of her mouth, she paused, realizing the futility in that statement.
Questioning why we do what we do is a good thing. Routines, habits, and traditions are great… if they are getting us what we want. If not, it’s time to loosen up, to become less rigid, and to be more open. If you ask yourself why you need something to be a certain way, or why you do something a certain way, and the answer is “because this is the way I’ve always done it,” then it’s time to consider change.
The wings on those jets must be flexible. If not, they will snap off in even moderate turbulence. The engineers calculate the maximum stress they think the wing would experience in flight, then, to ensure absolute safety, make it able to withstand 50% more. Consider building a little more flexibility into your life. Error on the side of not being too rigid. You, and everyone around you, will experience more goodness as a result.