Take a Deep Breath!

Take a deep breath! I learned this week (again) that stress is often self-imposed and often unnecessary.

Yes, you can say that while some stress is good and is needed to move us forward in life or create awareness around a potentially dangerous situation most often stress has negative connotations. It is often self-imposed and not needed to the extent we allow it into our lives. This was the case for me this week.

Recently, while trying to install Office 2016 on my new computer I ran into some challenges. The first being how to find a phone number to actually talk to a person. After some creative maneuvering and number punching I ended up on the line with a helpdesk guy that I could barely understand. My initial though was ‘oh, great’ but at that time I had hopes that my issue would be a quick five-minute conversation and I would be able to move on to my homework assignment that was due to be submitted in Word format (required) in less than three hours.

I quickly realized this was not going to be a quick conversation and immediately felt my stress level rise. I didn’t have time to deal with language barriers on top of the stress of knowing I had to research my topic prior to submitting the assignment. I took a deep breath and tried to speak clearly as I once again repeated the 26-digit code to the guy on the other end.

After several attempts, we eventually got my code to work and the install process started. As this happened, he politely stated, “Please excuse my silence while the install on your computer processes. This process should take about 45 minutes.” I just about jumped through the computer screen! 45 minutes—what!!???!!! I don’t have 45 minutes I thought to myself, but I quickly realized what choice did I have, so I took a deep breath and stared at my computer screen.

Soon the helpdesk guy came back on the phone (I wish I could remember his name) with the most calming, collected voice that I have heard in a long time. “What country are you in and what time is where you are at?” he asked me. I told him the United States and that it was 2:34 p.m. He responded with, “It is 2:34 a.m. where I am. I work until 11 a.m.”

I am not sure why, but that statement alone made me shift to a state of empathy. I thought to myself, “This poor guy is working all night so I can get my damn computer to work.’ I took a deep breath and he proceeded to ask me if I would like to see images of the town he was living in in India. Since I knew I wasn’t going anywhere (he had remotely accessed my computer and I had to stay at it or the download would be terminated) I said ‘Sure’. He immediately opened a new tab and typed into Google the name of the town he was in. Beautiful images of pink colored palaces came up and he proceeded to share some history behind them and his country.

My love of learning was sparked and he had my full attention as I asked him question after question. He opened another tab on my computer and shared with me images of his hometown and the stories behind the king’s palace in the town where he grew up and is sharing tidbits of trivia that go with it.

About this time, my download was completed and it was time to finish the install. I felt a moment of sadness as I realized that this interaction was going to soon be over.

My impatient American personality kicked in and I immediately switched back to a focused and determined mode. After the install, I finished my homework and submitted it with over an hour to spare.

As I took a deep breath I realized that all of the stress I had placed on myself was unnecessary. Yes, I had to get the assignment done, and under normal conditions I wouldn’t have waited that long to do it but due to other scheduling conflicts, family obligations, internet and technology issues, it was the situation I was in and in the end it all worked out just fine.

Hopefully the next time I’m stressed and feeling rushed, I’ll remember this situation and take a deep breath and remember the guy in India who taught me to take a deep breath and live in the moment no matter how stressful it might feel.