What Keeps You Up at Night?

Have you ever been asked this question? I was asked this question on a job interview once. I figured they were trying to get at what my most challenging/stressful issue was. But I think my answer took them by surprise a bit.  “Nothing,” I responded.

Don’t get me wrong. I, like everyone else, have hot things on my plate — those things that the most pressing of my responsibilities. But they don’t keep me up at night, at least not usually.

The truth is, I sleep quite well.  I am not any kind of Zen master or anything like that, but I learned long ago that there those things which I cannot control, and to allow them to eat at me is simply destructive.

Now I am not talking about the extreme traumatic experiences we face in life. Those are exceptions. I am talking about the day-to-day work life that we all strive to stay ahead of.

There’s an old story of a farm hand…….

Years ago a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.

As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. “Are you a good farm hand?” the farmer asked him. “Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him.

The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man’s work.

Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!” The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.” Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm.

To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

5 Secrets to Sleeping Better:

  1. Plan ahead. When you become skilled and disciplined about planning your work day ahead of time, you will greatly reduce the stress you feel over what tomorrow’s work day will bring. Are you driving the day?  Or is the day driving YOU?
  2. Pray, meditate, relax, breathe, etc. Whatever it is that brings you tranquility, give yourself that – not as a luxury, but as a necessity. Make the last thing you do before bed something enjoyable and positive, not stressful or annoying.
  3. Eat right – at least MORE right. No heavy late night meals, etc.
  4. Try to avoid the news media last thing at night or first thing in the morning. It’s negative, chaotic, and unproductive.
  5. Live right.   A clear conscience is the best sleep aid. Live to the best of your potential as much as possible, and feel good about giving your best.

(c) Photo from Can Stock Photo

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