Water Tank

Exploring Happiness Blog - Water Tank

I’m at the point where I suspect happiness has almost everything to do with relaxation. Some excitement is good but since the world causes usually lots of stress (or we do), it’s really about lots of breathing and calming the nervous system. With a calmer nervous system, it is easier to see opportunities (and act on it); it’s easier to make wise decisions – wise as in long-term benefit (that often includes also short-term benefits). Calmer nerves let us be more creative, funny and playful. In other words, calmer nerves correlate with happiness.

The Water Tank Analogy

So, what is stressing our nervous system? I love to bring up the comparision to a water tank. There are toxins and environmental stresses that we hardly can escape – these fill the tank. Then there is mental stress and worry which is part of everyday life, again filling the tank. And then there is nutrition which can cause inflammation and sickness (stress filling the tank) but also heal (emptying the tank). When the tank is full or overflows, we are overwhelmed by stress. For me that really feels like there is no capacity left and I’m indeed overflowing with emotions, demands, stress.

Mental stress and nutrition are our chances to help the nervous system to calm and enjoy happiness; prevent the overflowing. With meditation, breathing, yoga but also mindset changes, trust in the good, positive thinking, gratitude (appreciation of what we already have) and many other tools, we manage mental stress and can tip out the water tank to increase capacity.

The other tool we have to keep the water tank from becoming too full is nutrition. What we put in our body can give us more capacity (healing) or stress (inflammation). Which food is actually healing and which is causing inflammation is not always straightforward. I recently discovered that lentils and oats – which I ate a lot of – were really bad for me and that eating lots of meat helped me to recover my energy. In general, nutrient-dense food like vegetables, fruit, nuts and organic meats are preferable over nutrient-poor processed foods. But I am not a healthcare provider or nutritionist, so learn about food for yourself (Nutrivore by Sarah Ballantyne is a great book).

I recently got better in learning how to listen to myself. This is a subtle tool to navigate away from stress. Sometimes the voice is too soft in all the loudness of life. But when I follow, it guides me so well that my water tank keeps a good level.

Do you know that voice? How are you balancing your water tank? Or are you just constantly managing overflows?