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Relax, Relax

I have been taking swim lessons at Lifetime Fitness for a few months now.  I really enjoy it and my swim stroke has greatly improved.  I grew up with a pool, so I am very familiar with the water.  I am very comfortable jumping off the diving board, holding my breath all the way across the pool and can play a mean game of ‘marco polo’.  But what I didn’t know how to do is swim a stroke correctly–I had no idea how to swim the front crawl or the back stroke.  At first, I was just going to do 4 lessons. But 4 have turned into 12 and now I have fins and hand paddles and I have learned there is this whole complex world revolved around swimming. It is WAY more than just being able to get from one side of the pool to the other. Not only have I learned a lot about my swim stroke I have had a few aha moments about living happier in the pool.

A few months ago, I wrote about how swim pace is linked to happiness and yesterday I had another similar aha moment during my lesson.  Yesterday,  I was learning how to swim the back stroke at ‘race pace’.  As I swam using all my muscles, concentrating on form, trying not to just give up, my swim instructor started yelling ‘relax, relax’ from the side of the pool.  My first thought was, ” Relax? I am racing here, there is no relaxing?!?!” and then I thought “Oh maybe I can relax AND do race pace” and you know what? I did and I did better.  Unfortunately, me swimming with my instructor yelling ‘relax,  relax’ became a bit of a theme for this lesson–I admit it is a tough lesson for me.  As I walked away from the pool, I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful if I had a little person who walked around with me and when I got stressed he said “relax, relax” like my swim instructor did.

Many of us tend to be a white knucklers. We face life holding on for dear life, worried we are going to make a mistake, worried we are doing it wrong or we just give up.  We get tunnel vision on our lives, our relationships, our jobs.  We white knuckle our way through each day living in a state of worry and inadequacy.  For some of my clients the idea of letting go, relaxing into life seems counter-intuitive.  Because somewhere we learned the lesson:  the tighter we hold on the more control we have the happier we will be.  I am here to tell you that is incorrect, my friend.  The truth is the times in my life when I have learned to ‘relax, relax’ to let go, and release control are the times when happiness comes in.   The times I just chill and stop white knuckling my relationships improve, my career is more fulfilling and I am happier.  In reality, the relationship and career improvements are just a bonus to the huge sigh of relief that I take when I just relax, relax and I remember white knuckling does NOT equal happiness.
So from now on when you feel yourself trying to hold on to control, trying to do everything perfectly or afraid of complete failure think of my swim instructor screaming “relax, relax”, take a deep breath and release control.  I swear it will help you Live Happier.

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