post written by: Marc Chernoff

7 Sources of Stress You Tolerate Too Often

7 Sources of Stress You Tolerate Too Often

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
―E.E. Cummings

Life is to be enjoyed and appreciated, not endured and tolerated.  Which is why today is a perfect day to stop tolerating…

1.  People who are purposely difficult.

Don’t let anyone’s negativity stop you from being happy.  Negative company will never give you a positive life.  Examine what you tolerate.  Every time you subtract negative from your life, you make room for more positive.  Happiness is found around encouraging, loving people.

Learning to ignore certain people is one of the great paths to inner peace.  Life gets easier when you delete those who make it difficult.

2.  Your attempts to live up to the expectations of others.

Remember, you can’t base your idea of success and happiness on other people’s opinions.  We’re not here to live up to each other’s expectations; we’re here to follow our own intuition and do our best.  When you clear out other people’s expectations, or the classic things you are “supposed” to want, you create the time needed to take steps towards your true destiny.

Bruce Lee once said, “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”  Let this be your motto from this day forward.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3.  Your own needless negativity.

Stop focusing on how stressed you are and remember how blessed you are.  Complaining won’t change the outcome, but a positive attitude will.  Life is too short to spend at war with yourself.  Practice acceptance and forgiveness.  Don’t let dumb little things break your happiness.

True wealth is the ability to experience and appreciate each moment for what it’s worth.  It is not what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you. Count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.  No matter how bad it hurts now, someday you will look back and realize today’s struggles made you a much stronger person.  So always laugh when you can; it’s the cheapest medicine.  When you smile about the life you live, you end up living a life worth smiling about.

4.  The itch of old wounds from the past.

The first step to living the life you want is leaving the life you don’t want.  Letting go of the past is your first step towards happiness.

You are not your past failures.  You are not your past habits.   You are not how others have at one time treated you.  You are only who you think you are right now in this moment.  You are only what you do right now in this moment.

You are here for a special reason.  Stop being a prisoner of your past.  Become the architect of your present and future.  Learn from your regrets, but do not punish yourself with them.  Live beyond your petty, fleeting fears and focus on the profound possibilities that await your immediate attention.  (Read The Untethered Soul.)

5.  The excuses you keep making for procrastinating.

Today, stop making excuses for why you can’t get it done and start focusing on all the reasons why you must make it happen.  Stop talking about what you have done or what you are going to do.  Just do it and let your actions speak for themselves.  Most great things in life don’t happen by chance, they happen by choice.  You never know what’s possible until you risk finding out.

Remember, it’s always better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.  In the end, there is only one thing that makes your dreams and goals completely impossible to achieve:  Your lack of action.

6.  A “safe” lifestyle void of excitement and passion.

You deserve to be happy.  You deserve to live a life you are excited about.  Don’t let others make you forget that.  Don’t play it so safe that you put yourself in situations where none of your potential options satisfy your calling.

Have you ever tucked something of value in a “safe place” out of fear that you might lose it?  And then one day awoke to the realization that you hid it so well, even YOU can no longer find it?  If so, then you understand the wisdom of leaving your heart and dreams unlocked and open.  To reach for what can be, even when you’re doubtful…  To let go of what is lost, even when it’s painful…  To live as though you’re brave, even when you’re fearful…  These are the trials you face and the choices you must make along the path to happiness and success.

Close your eyes for a moment and ask yourself this:  Isn’t it better to be extremely happy for a while, even if you eventually lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?  (Read Buddha’s Brain.)

7.  Self-neglect.

The most difficult phase of life is not when no one understands you, it’s when you don’t understand yourself.  It is easy to live for others, and so many people do, but I challenge you to live for yourself and your own values, ideas, and dreams.  Believe in yourself.  Listen to your soul.  Yes, help others, but don’t neglect YOU in the process.  Give yourself the time you deserve.

Live your life so that when you’re old, you never have to let the person you became fantasize about the person you were capable of being.  And someday when it’s time to ask where all the time went, you can answer, “It went to joyful moments of self-discovery, to passionate endeavors, to doing work that felt like play, to standing up for what I believe in, and to exploring this beautiful world with an open heart.  My time went to living MY life!”


Needless tolerations can bleed you dry and make it impossible for you to function effectively.  You can’t live a happy, fulfilling life if you’re spending all your energy tolerating things that shouldn’t be tolerated.  It’s time to put your foot down.

Remember, life is change, but growth is optional.  So choose wisely starting now.  Let today be the first day of the rest of your new life…

Your turn…

What would you add to this post?  What sources of stress do you tolerate too often?  Please leave us a comment below and share your thoughts.

Photo by: Striatic

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  • Loved all of these points. One thing I would add which goes hand in hand with #7 - not investing time into discovering who you are and what makes you tick is a trap that is so easy to fall into. We often define ourselves by things in our external world - a job, career, car, degree, marriage - but without investing time in yourself + discovering who you are and what your purpose is in this world will prevent you from living life at your full potential.

  • Wow.. I can’t believe how spot on this is. I’ve struggled a lot with with basically all of these. I struggled perhaps most with self-neglect and my attempts to live up to the expectations that I of others, as I dealt with my needless negativity.

    As it turns out, most of the people around me want me to just live a life where I can be happy.. and knowing that has been one of the things that empowered me to start taking steps towards a more unusual, healthy lifestyle. That and the self-help community online, this blog included! I’m not sure there is anything else I would add to this post.

  • When I read this post it honestly felt like you were sitting right here beside me, giving me the advice I need to hear right now. Thank you for that. This is one of my favorite posts you have written.

    A variation of your first point in this post is what I am desperately struggling with.

    As you stated in the relationships chapter of your book (which I love BTW), you have to choose your relationships wisely, because being alone will never cause as much loneliness as the wrong relationships. I have had someone in my life who has been extremely abusive to me, purposely making my life difficult on many levels. I am just beginning to stand up for myself and take my life back.

  • I think it’s also important to remember that just because a person’s perception of how things are is their reality, doesn’t mean it has to be your realty and doesn’t necessarily make it your truth. We all experience the same thing differently and that alters our perception.

  • Adding onto #1, remember that family can be a huge source of stress too. It’s difficult to acknowledge that family can be a negative force on your life. I get that. But it’s better to admit there’s a problem then to ignore it.

  • I’d add worrying too much about the future. It’s really easy to focus on the worst case scenario and blow things completely out of proportion when we’re looking down the road with a bad feeling.
    Usually, reality is not even close to what we’re picturing in our minds so this leads to tons of unnecessary stress and suffering.
    As my worry starts getting out of hand I remind myself of this and try to smile, breathe and go slowly.

  • Huuhhh! I’ve just begun the process of self discovery and it makes me think that I’m a little late to commence it. I was doing the mistake to avoid myself for the betterment of my peers but now I know that taking care of yourself is much needed for taking care of others.

  • Gena makes a good point! I find these blogs from Marc and Angel to be inspiring, wonderful advice. They are a comfort blanket and i draw great warmth and guidance from them. Thanks a million for this gift and keep the good and important work up. Love and respect…

  • 3 helped me to do 6. I cancelled much of the needless mental activity, the endless worry, and now I travel the world and help people make money online. I live the internet lifestyle, doing things like petting tigers and feeding monkeys on my porch, because I released much worry.

    I still struggle a little bit with each source but I am human. Usually I can release the low energies quickly but sometimes I resist. Oh well. I intend to improve.

    Marc, wonderful post. You have such a personal, clear, easy to read style. Keep up the great work.



  • Great post Marc. I think most of us are living under far too much stress in this modern world and often we are not even aware of it.

    I love your point about self-care. I find that sometimes it is the simplest things I let slip. Like sleeping enough. Recently I’ve been pushing myself to get more done on less sleep, and this week I’m realising that is not a very smart strategy after having a very unproductive week. :-)

    I think self-care really comes back to valuing ourselves enough to give ourselves what we need. When we are not looking after ourselves, the message we send is “You’re not worth looking after.”

    And all of us are so valuable, we shouldn’t be sending anyone that message, let alone ourselves.

  • I love how this post easily took what we’re all thinking but couldn’t express because Shakespeare wouldn’t lend his ‘way with words’ hand to us.

    Such a great post as usual :-)

  • Agreed with the whole list! I found also Rachel’s comment very spot on. I think our personality traits such as trying “being perfect” or looking to help people are our stress triggers as well. I would also add our ancestral unconscious can sometimes add pressure to who we are and who we want to be

  • Similar to number 2, I would add caring about others’ opinions. You’ll get more stressed out than usual and pressured to conform in society. I agree with Vincent about family stress. Sometimes the people you love who are always negative need to be cut out or ignored for the most part.

  • It’s interesting to me how every single one of these items (with the possible exception of #1 in certain circumstances) involves an *internal* choice.

    They’re all inner attitude adjustments, which means they’re totally within our control. We don’t need to wait for circumstances to change in order to stop procrastinating, being negative, dwelling in the past, etc–we can choose at any time to stop accepting these things for ourselves.

    Personally, I find your mention of #6 as a form of stress to be profound. On the face of it, playing it safe seems to be a way of *avoiding* stress. But I think you’re right that the slow, corrosive stress of watching your dreams decay over time outweighs the short-term stress of pushing the boundaries and risking true happiness instead of mere contentment.

  • Life is quite challenging for me right now. I have myself made some major mistakes. I am doing my best, feeling alone walking it out, and I am trusting The Lord to see me through the process.

    I thank you Marc for your wisdom. Putting my past behind and letting go is what I must do to free myself to start a new. I will begin today to apply what I have read. Seems like you were siting in my house reading me with healthy tough love. Bless you both.

  • I read your posts daily! You hit the nail on the head today. Thank you - you make a difference!

  • As always, your articles help shift the focus in a positive way. #7 is so true for me and many women I know. We want to nurture and thus neglect ourselves…become burned out and unhappy (especially when we look at ourselves in the mirror) about how we look.

  • I was writing in my journal this morning about the stress of living in cities. When I was rushing to and from an office, it seemed appropriate to live within the city limits and reduce the stress associated with commuting. Now, as a freelancer and with the freedom that the Internet provides, I find myself asking - why am I still in the city?

    Great post, wonderful advice, I’ll share this with my friends and family. Question everything, is my motto, and it serves me well. I will be leaving the city soon, and seeking a simple life by the ocean and a wilder, more natural environment.

  • Especially #7.

    And Patrik, worry is simply guilt on a future trip.

  • This is so timely for my life. I have two sisters who have been extremely toxic to me and they are no longer a part of my life. I now feel able to be the person I truly am, without constant scrutiny and judgement. I wake up every day grateful for the opportunity to live the best day I can and I can be a warm, giving person to those around me. I take joy in exploring my passions and taking care of myself and my loved ones. Thank you!

  • What if the person in number one is your mother?! This point is so spot on, it’s scary.

  • It’s true that negative company doesn’t give you a happy life. I think it is important to surround yourself with like-minded people who support you in what you are doing and what you want to do in life. And that you also get rid of people who hold you back in your personal development.

    A life that is just based on safety and stability is not the life I am looking for. Where is the adventure, the passion, the excitement? I personally couldn’t live without those feelings.

    I know one thing and that is this: I don’t want to die one day without having lived a life full of passion, adventure and excitement. What a waste of life would that be…

  • This is so timely. I am separated from my husband of 21 years and #2,3,4,6,7 brought to the forefront our marriage for the last ten years.

    I’ve allowed others to choose my path in life by pleasing everyone but me. I’ve set aside dreams and goals to accommodate others which has put my life on hold. Being a people pleaser doesn’t necessitate losing yourself in the process. Rather encompassing a healthy balance of keeping yourself intact through self-care, recognizing your goals and just jumping in to achieve what you need will get you to the happiness you deserve. My daily thoughts and actions are kind and considerate but don’t revolve around pleasing others. I am happy with me first and others gravitate towards my inner peace and happiness.

  • I’ve been peeling away people (family members who would always stress me out) for awhile now, leaving me at peace; at least, in that area. Each of your suggestions is a great reminder and I know we all think of you when an incident occurs and we’re reflexive on how we react; then, remember how we should act for a happier outcome for ourselves. It’s hard when these stressers keep repeating themselves, but definitely doable with your constant, nurturing reminders. Thank you!

  • A wonderful article and great comments as well.

    I would add a thought about ’self-confidence’ or rather a lack of it becoming a cause of stress. Confidence is the most important factor you need to protect yourself against the slings and arrows of negativity. In the absence of confidence it is very easy for fear and worry to take control.

    The good news is confidence is a habit that can be developed and strengthened every day.

    Tackle it with vigour and stamp out the negative forces forever!


  • I couldn’t add a thing because I struggle with everything on this list from time to time and that is enough to think about for one day!- ha :) So thankful for you Marc and Angel providing the reminders and help I need to get the mental hamster in my head off his wheel and on to a good path. Blessings to you!

  • Every single one of these things is so true and something I had to incorporate into my everyday life and thinking when I began my transformational journey a few years ago, but THIS: “It went to joyful moments of self-discovery, to passionate endeavors, to doing work that felt like play, to standing up for what I believe in, and to exploring this beautiful world with an open heart. My time went to living MY life!”

    This is what life’s really about.

    Thank you for this. It was the perfect way to start my day.


  • #3,5,7, are all speaking to me right now. Am trying to count my blessings every day. Procrastinating is such an evil enemy and drains your thoughts, and self-neglect is so very true. Much stress in my life now.

    @Mark H. yes I agree completely with you.

    Some very good advice here from the writers. Need to apply this advice to my life, as soon as possible.

    Another excellent post, thank you so much.

  • What truly awesome reminders! Love it! Thank you!

  • I just discovered your website and I have to admit I can’t stop reading it. In this very stressful everyday reality it is really important to stop for a while and think about ourselves, who we are, what we want and what kind of life we are living. Otherwise, at the end of our life’s road we will have nothing but regrets and sorrow. Really inspirational article, I liked reading it very much and I will come back here for sure. Thanks!

  • So much wisdom in one short article, it is astounding. Just got out of a 27 yr marriage and alive once more. Thank You and thank God.

  • Perceptions - perhaps hidden in Points 1 through to 6, is something that we can well control, but often hold on too tightly to see it differently.

    When we can step back and re-evaluate, we often find that things we thought were so true and real, are not necessarily so.

    Stress, as real as it is, is also very much a matter of perception, and our reaction to it, is what defines our well-being. It does take significant work to view things differently, but once you get there, things start to change.

  • I do some (OK, a lot or all) of these. Life is a journey - one step (day) at a time. :) I’m making progress.

  • Having a cluttered life.

    Too much mental or physical clutter leads to stress.

    Try voluntary simplicity / minimalism.

    You don’t have to sell everything you own or stop participating in all your hobbies or live in a tiny house - just slowly reduce and watch your stress go down too.

  • We hear constantly that we are living in the most stressful time in history so it’s no wonder people are depressed and morose. But I guess every generation has said the same thing. Stone Age man must have found just surviving very tense, and living during wars couldn’t have been a barrel of laughs. But as we know stress if not handled properly can cause all sorts of problems, so it makes sense to find ways of coping with it. Then again we are told some stress is good for us as it keeps us ticking over so to speak.

    Are we becoming a bit obsessed though with the word stress? As some people seem to thrive on it, whilst others crumble with just a little. So I would add to this list we need to stop using “stress” as an excuse for us not getting on with our lives, or having the life we want or deserve. As your excellent articles keep on telling us week after week, that we must stop using the past, our upbringing, our current situation, and umpteen other things too as excuses from living an enjoyable and fulfilling life. So stick “stress” to the list!

  • I like your 7 list of stressors. I think they are far too often ignored.

    As for what stressors I think are tolerated too often, I would add two.

    1. Fitness. It has been well documented that fitness is both a means of relieving stress, as well as being a big cause of stress for those that are less healthy. While some degree of stress may happen regardless, activity is essential for a stress free lifestyle.

    2. Time. Time, and not having enough of it, is something that sometimes needlessly stresses people out. While time is something you won’t be able to get rid of completely being a decent time manager can certainly help to decrease this needless stressor.

  • I love and I do mean LOVE reading your posts and articles. This one really captured me because I’m deadling with letting go of an “obviously” toxic relationship in fear that I will be “alone”. After reading this, Alone does not mean lonely and Aftrer all that is said and done, I am blessed to know that this experience has been a valuable lesson as to how I should value myself.

    Thanks Marc & Angel. You do not know how so many people love your articles.

  • I’m frequently a victim of the “shoulda, woulda, coulda’s”. I’m working on putting the past behind me, and realizing that no matter what, I cannot change the outcome of what has been…only what is to be and that’s where I need to put my focus. I have excused myself from an energy-sucking, passive-agressive “friendship” and and spend each day enjoying what is…regret is so self-defeating!

  • I just stumbled upon this blog and it’s awesome!

    Number 6 and Number 2 are two subjects I talk about often.

  • The biggest unnecessary stress of all though… Feeling stress because reality didn’t live up to your expectations of it in your head. This one is key.

    If you allow things to simply happen, and not attach meaning and frustration to them your stress levels will dramatically drop.

  • I love all of these. Not sure what I would add, but the common theme of “addition by subtraction” is what really works. It implies that we are GOOD ENOUGH AS WE ARE, and that things that lead us back to our essential nature are always the right move. That’s pretty darn comforting! Great post. :)

  • I needed to hear numbers 5 and 6 right at this moment. Thanks.

  • Thought provoking and challenging. I take a lot away from this especially in regards to letting go of the past in order to move towards happiness. Thank you.

  • “A “safe” lifestyle void of excitement and passion” Thanks for that one, exactly what I needed to hear, because I am working all the time.


  • @Rachel // One Beautiful Life: So true. Acknowledging our inner purpose not only reduces stress, it guides our lives in the right direction.

    @Ragnar: Conquering self-defeating thoughts is a must. Glad to have you here in the M&A community.

    @Gena: “We all experience the same thing differently and that alters our perception.” – I couldn’t agree more.

    @Vincent: Yeah, distancing yourself from family can be tough, but it’s sometimes necessary. The key, as you’ve stated, is to communicate your thoughts cordially. Don’t let them bottle up.

    @Patrik Edblad: Agreed. Most of the time worry is a total waste.

    @Susan Jones: Such a beautiful reminder on the importance of self-worth. Thanks.

    @Michelle Russell: You got it. Happiness is a risk. Everything worthwhile requires risk. And it’s well worth it.

    @Joyce: Bet of luck. Keep us posted. =)

    @Lorrie Beauchamp: Interesting perspective. Angel and I choose to live in a city (Austin right now) for the convenience a city provides – public transit, walkability, etc. It would be quieter in the suburbs, but not necessarily more peaceful, at least not for us. I think peace is a mindset that comes from within.

    @Mary: Congrats on taking a stand and walking a path of positivity and passion.

    @Trish: Read Vincent’s comment and my response.

    @Sebastian: Well then, it’s time to take the first step. Let the adventure begin. =)

    @SJ Scott: Fitness is a great addition. Angel and I workout for 30 minutes every single day, without fail.

    @All: As always, thank you, THANK YOU, for the added insight. Reading your comments and taking notes for future posts has become one of my favorite evening routines. Cheers everyone!

  • I used to tolerate my own limiting beliefs, until I realized it was simply subconscious programming that didn’t serve me or the world at all. Sometimes I get confronted with the negativity of others and let it push my buttons. It’s a challenge to simply be aware without reacting and instead just say how that makes me feel. I believe that if you confront people with their own negative attitudes they get a chance to become aware of their own subconscious. If they don’t listen, well then just ignore :)

  • One source of stress is being oversubscribed. For me, this relates to parents and their childrens activities. It doesn’t seem to matter which sport you put your child in - they all seem to be scheduled to death. And if you have more than one child, you’re pretty much going everyday. Please understand that I absolutely love watching my kids and their sports. But there are times when the season has gone on too long and too many practices, games and tournaments are scheduled. This also interferes with wanting to do other things as a family. There just isn’t enough down time in life…

    A reply to MARA: You must give yourself the gift of time away from this toxic person. To realize that so much of what this person is doing and how it affects you is so wrong. And when the wheels spin in the middle of the night - you google your feelings about this toxic person and there are articles galore to help you through those intolerable moments when you can’t let this person go. Trust me on this. It takes a while and it hurts, but you must do the work to get yourself to a better and safe place. My heartfelt best wishes for your success in matters of the heart. It can be done.

  • “Isn’t it better to be extremely happy for a while, even if you eventually lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?”

    I’ve been living the “safe” lifestyle you mention for so long, that I honestly don’t know how to answer that question. At this point I find it hard to believe that ‘extremely happy’ even exists. I’m familiar with the void created when happy goes and ‘just okay’ is certainly better than that.

    I wish I knew how to deal with this better, how to overcome my own negativity and inertia, but it’s been so long… I just spent my second birthday in a row by myself. This isn’t supposed to be a confessional, I know, but I do come here for inspiration and it feels good to share, even a little.

    I still have a hope that I can find a way, find the strength to lift my head out of this fog and find a better path. But for now I continue to drift.

    And I feel nothing.

  • Hard to delete people who are purposely difficult that also happen to be a co-worker that sits 5 feet from you and makes life hard - will have to work on ignoring that person.
    Many other blessings in my life to concentrate on.

  • My husband. I have spent 13 years “tolerating” my husband.

  • Great tips and one I would add is stay out of other peoples business and worry about yourself. Misery loves company and many hide behind a mask to cover their ugly souls. Stay away from those people. Jealousy is a disease and it is something that has to be overcome by loving yourself. Spend the effort you spend on making others look bad to bettering yourself. Church doesn’t cover you if your of the devil.

  • Phrases from this post that I’d like to remember:
    1. The first step to living the life you want is leaving the life you don’t want.
    2. You never know what’s possible until you risk finding out.
    3. Isn’t it better to be extremely happy for a while, even if you eventually lose it, than to be just okay for your whole life?
    4. Yes, help others, but don’t neglect YOU in the process.
    5. Remember, life is change, but growth is optional.

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