Life is too short to stress yourself with things that
don’t even deserve to be an issue in your life.
When I was nine-years-old, my dad came into my room one Sunday afternoon with teary eyes and told me that we might lose our house. He explained that he had been struggling to find a job, and if he didn’t find one soon we would not be able to afford to live in our house anymore. I could tell he was sad, angry, and worried all at once. Without thinking about it, I hugged my dad and said, “It’s just a house. I don’t care where we live, as long as we’re together.”
My dad, who’s now 70, loves to reminisce about this story. He says my innocent, sincere response brought perspective to the stressful predicament our family was facing at the time. Suddenly, he realized the sky wasn’t falling. We were all healthy and capable of getting through this together. And we did.
As we journey through life, so many of us let stress get the best of us. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t let your mind stir up and put up with unnecessary drama. Do your best, take small steps forward, keep things in perspective, and ignore the following…
1. Blatant negativity.
Keep calm and think positively. Evolve your being and inspire yourself and others. Say it out loud, “I am sorry negativity, I have no time for you. I have far too many positive things to do.” Take the next 24 hours and every time you start to complain, realize it, admit it and stop it. How often do you complain and harp on negative thoughts? It may be more often than you think. Know that bringing awareness to this unproductive habit is the first step to overcoming it. You are not allowed to complain about something unless you’re going to do something about it.
It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life. Instead of complaining about your circumstances, get busy creating new ones. Remember that stumbling blocks become stepping stones when you look for the positive in a situation, even if you have to look a little harder than usual. Be thankful for the little struggles you go through today. They make you stronger and wiser. Don’t let them break you; let them make you.
And when it comes to your interactions with negative people… Smile, even if you have to force it. Laugh, even if it hurts. Don’t let them get to you. You are amazing and life is good, regardless of what others say. Those who talk down to you are just trying to walk tall by making you feel small. Rise up. If someone has nothing nice to say, ignore them.
2. The people who try to dump on everything you do.
When you follow your heart and intuition, someone will try to discredit you for it. When you finally find something that makes you happy, not everyone will be happy for you. When you show unwavering kindness to others, some people will question your motives. When you are honest to the core, some folks will attempt to use your honesty against you. When you look for the best in everyone you meet, a few of them will take advantage of it.
Don’t let any of these people stop you from doing these things. These people don’t matter. In the end, what does matter is how you feel about yourself and the life you have led. You will ask yourself one question: “Am I proud of how I lived?” Make the answer: “Yes!” (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. Other people’s opinions of what’s best for you.
You can’t always be agreeable; that’s how people take advantage of you. You have to set boundaries. Don’t ever change just to impress someone. Change because it makes you a better person and leads you to a better future. Being your true self is the most effective formula for happiness and success there is.
Truth be told, one of the greatest freedoms is simply not caring what everyone else thinks of you. Take risks. Follow your intuition. Don’t just accept the safe and easy choices because you’re afraid of what others might think or say. Sometimes you need to step outside, get some fresh air, and remind yourself of who you are and what you want to be. You have to take a stand and do your own thing your own way, no matter what anyone else thinks or says about you. Don’t let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big. They aren’t.
4. That lingering idea of perfection.
The quest for perfection always ends in devastation. Thinking you have to do things perfectly is like strapping an extra 500 pounds to your back – it absolutely crushes you. According to research professor, Brené Brown, “Perfection is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities. The fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting people’s expectations, and being criticized keeps us outside the arena where healthy competition and striving unfolds.”
You might not be the most beautiful, the strongest, or the most talented person in the world, and that’s OK. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. You’re great at being YOU. You might not be proud of all the things you’ve done in the past, but that’s okay too. The past is not today. Be proud of who you are, how you’ve grown, and what you’ve learned along the way.
Ultimately, you need to realize that perfect is the enemy of great. And the real world doesn’t reward perfection; it rewards people who get great things done. And the only way to get great things done is to be imperfect 99.9% of the time. (Read Daring Greatly.)
5. Ungrateful, materialistic thinking.
When life is good, enjoy it. Don’t go looking for something better. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have. A psychology study (Nickerson et al.) conducted in 2003 is proof of this. The study examined the attitudes of 12,000 college freshmen when they were eighteen, and then measured their life-satisfaction at age 37. Those who had expressed heightened materialistic aspirations as freshmen – always wanting something they didn’t have – were far less satisfied with their lives two decades later.
To be happy doesn’t mean you don’t desire more, it means you are thankful for what you have now and patient for everything yet to come. Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want or need, to impress folks they don’t even know. Don’t be one of them. Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in trying to attain something new and big, that you fail to notice all the little things that give life its magic. As Epicurus once said, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
6. The idea that everything should be easy.
Not everything that’s faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it’s faced. Many people never achieve what they want in life because when opportunity knocks, they’re still sleeping and dreaming and waiting for a miracle. Remember, problems are not stop signs, they’re guidelines. Losing is a learning experience. Strength does not come from winning at everything. Your greatest struggles develop your greatest strengths.
In the end, you are not what you have done, but what you have overcome. All the hardships. All the mistakes. All the rejections. All the pain. All the times you questioned why. All of these things have given birth to the wisdom and strength that will help you shine your light on the world, even in the darkest of hours. (Read The Road Less Traveled.)
7. An inner resistance to change.
We all have a story. We’ve all gone through something that has changed us in a way that we could never go back to who we once were. In life, this kind of change is inevitable. Everything around you is impermanent – your body, your possessions, your relationships, etc. You don’t have control over every little thing that happens to you, but you do have control over how you decide to internalize it.
Pay as much attention to the changes that are working positively in your life as you do to those changes that are giving you trouble. Appreciate how the unexpected is sometimes better than what you expected. And above all, stop stressing over what’s behind you. The end of something good is always the beginning of something great. Say to yourself: “Dear Past, thank you for all the life lessons you have taught me. Dear Present, I am ready now!” Because a priceless new beginning always occurs at the point you thought would be the end of everything.
Bottom line: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Live simply. Love generously. Speak truthfully. Work diligently. Then let go and let what’s meant to be, be.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Too many people die with their music still in them.” I believe this is due in part to our tolerance of the wrong things – needless sources of stress that can be ignored. So what do you think? What would you add to this list? What sources of stress do you need to ignore more often? Please leave us a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Andre Delhaye