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How to Find Inner Peace Amid Outer Chaos

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Creating more free time and ultimately reducing stress in your life may be easier than you think. In this video, physician and futurist Dr. Richard Swenson talks about how you can identify choices you didn‘t even know you had.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
There are only a handful of people that have had a profound influence on my life and Dr. Swenson is certainly one of them. I first became aware of his work about fifteen years ago. His concepts on margin have provided one of the guiding principles of how I run my life and business. 

It is priceless information that has stood the test of time and I am certain can help nearly everyone reading this.

If you are currently feeling burned out, overwhelmed and like you’re being pulled in a million different directions, put Dr. Richard Swenson’s books Margin and Overload at the top of your reading list.

Dr. Swenson’s material is the best antidote to burnout I’ve ever read because they guide you into creating time in your life for the things that are most important to you.

Right now, you may feel trapped by any number of things. Your job, school obligations, errands, commuting, chores around the house … by the time you get done with all those things you have to do in a day, who has any time for the things you want to do?

Creating time for the want-to’s in your life is where Dr. Swenson is a master.

Is Your Life’s Load Too High?

You only get 24 hours in a day, and at a minimum six of those need to be devoted to sleep. That leaves 18 or fewer hours in any given day to accomplish a great number of things. Aside from these time limits, you also have a limit to your emotional reserves and your physical energy.

If your personal load becomes so excessive that you’re pushing the boundaries of your time, emotions and physical ability, you enter the “red zone” known as overload.

To put this in concrete terms, we all know what happens if you spend more than what’s available in your bank account. Ideally, you should only be spending a portion of this amount so that you have a cushion, or a margin, to fall back on. Well, if you spend more than, say, 80 percent of your emotional or physical reserves, it also leaves you with very little margin -- and this is when burnout and stress-related illnesses result.

This is why it’s so important to create a bigger “margin” in your life. A simple premise, yes, but HOW exactly do you do this?

Creating Margin in Your Life

When thinking about margins, Dr. Swenson suggests thinking about a glass of water.

“When you’re in a saturated part of your life, it’s like having glasses that are full of water and you can’t put another drop in until you take a drop out. We understand that. It is objectively in front of us.

Now, think about life in very much same way. If you are unsaturated, even if you have some problems in your life, and somebody asks you to do something, you can say yes. You don’t even have to think about it, because you have time and resources to fulfill these obligations and you’re happy to have it. It is something that is a positive for you,” he says.

The problems arise when your life is nearing that saturation point. If someone asks you do to something, there simply isn’t any room -- time-wise, emotionally, physically, and so on -- to fit it in … unless something else is sacrificed.

The trouble is that often you end up sacrificing the things you shouldn’t, such as your sleep or time with your loved ones. Or you try to multi-task and do multiple things at once, which actually makes you less productive because your brain isn’t designed to multi-task.

Either way, the end result is the same: stress and burnout.

So while the solution to creating a greater margin in your life is to cut back, you must know what to cut back on.

Making Choices That Will Make You Happier

The basic premise is to always keep your life unsaturated, or your schedule somewhat open. This way, you have enough "margin" or flexibility to respond to unexpected opportunities.

Dr. Swenson has actually written an updated version of Margin called A Minute of Margin: Restoring Balance to Busy Lives. This book has daily readings to help you reduce the frustrations in your life a little at a time. Along those lines, you can reduce stress and make better use of your time by:

1. Learning that saying “no” to others is saying “yes” to yourself.

2. Systematically cutting down your debt. When you don’t have as many financial obligations, it makes you more free.

3. Not responding when people press your “hot buttons.” You have complete control over your reactions, so why waste precious energy being angry or upset?

4. Realizing that having less can give you more. About 92 percent of Americans say they’re happier when their lives are simplified.

5. Trusting your instincts -- they won’t steer you wrong. Realize, too, that if you’re too distracted you may not be able to recognize these inner cues.

6. Taking advantage of “the free three:” laughter, music and nature.

7. Spending less time watching TV.

8. Knowing what recharges you (exercise, being outdoors, talking to your best friend) and taking time to do it when you feel stressed.

Ultimately, the more you apply these principles, the greater your margin will become -- and the more you’ll be able to carve out time for the things that make life worth living.

For those familiar with Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) you might want to use the popular Personal Peace Procedure. It has been helpful to thousands.