post written by: Marc Chernoff

7 Stressful Things to Start Ignoring


7 Stressful Things to Start Ignoring

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.

Your turn…

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

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48 Comments

  • As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I started implementing points 2 and 3 several months back, thanks to the motivation I have received from your blog and book. A line from your book about this that I jotted down so I could keep it as a reminder:

    “Choose your relationships wisely. Being alone will never cause as much loneliness as the wrong relationships.”

    So true, and so helpful. Believe me I have never felt so healthy and free. Today I might be alone at times, but I’m definitely not lonely. Thanks for such keen reminders of the unnecessary stress we all need to avoid in life.

  • I truly look forward to your blog posts. They are helping me build strength and change my outlook. This post is thought provoking and challenging in many ways. I take a lot away from it, especially in regards to letting go of the past in order to change and move forward.

    Thank you.

  • #2 reminds me of an expression I try to live by: Live your life in such a manner, that if anyone were to say something bad about you, no one would believe it.

  • Oh guys, I so wish I could bottle you up and take a swig every so often! When I have a minute you’re going on one of my twitter retweet lists!

  • This is beautiful and so true. Thank you, I am going thru a difficult time right now but have much to be thankful for. Thank you for putting a new perspective on what I should not worry about and how to move forward. Bless you and your wife for such practical life changing advice.

  • I cannot believe how much I got out of this post. I wish I read it 10, even 20 years ago. I am so eager to read your books. I have read, researched and attended many self improvement seminars but never have I read such amazing straight forward, frank and truthful information. I will never overlook any of your emails/blogs again. I assumed they would be like all other blogs on this particular topic.

    Going onto your website now; I cannot wait to read your book. :)

    Thank you Marc and Angel.

  • I just love the end of the article: “Too many people die with their music still in them.” I just wanna say for me, I need to ignore the fear to start. So many times I have great ideas but then I start to think of possible negative outcomes and I stop and do nothing. I need to remember that in the end the worst that can happen is a mistake I learn from, so I will have the chance to start again =)

    Happy writing!

  • I really enjoyed this post, Marc! I especially liked the point about fear of change. One of the key ways we develop ourselves is by trying new things, following what works, and learning from what doesn’t. If you don’t have the heart to take some risk, you probably aren’t taking a large-enough steps in the right direction. Adding all of these steps together go to helping you create a more interesting and rewarding life. Great points!

  • Great post!

    I need to ignore:

    2. The people who try to dump on everything you do.

    I resonated with everything you wrote. I’m experiencing some wonkieness from some people.

    Personally, I want to hear about people’s accomplishments, and I feel honored that they trust me enough to share with me. There’s nothing wrong with sharing, especially when what you’ve been working towards starts to pay off. However, others may view you as a braggart. If this happens, you may be tempted to dull or turn down your light. I know I have been tempted to do this. Why? Because someone sent me an email and it bummed me out. But I know I can choose to let it go, or not.

    4. That lingering idea of perfection.

    I struggle with this from time-to-time, but I’m getting better at saying, “C’est la vie.” That’s life!

    6. The idea that everything should be easy.

    I fell into this trap when I first started researching spiritual and metaphysical topics. The books I read on the Law of Attraction made it seem that you can get everything you desired with the “snap” of your fingers. Not so fast. What you desire may not come to you in 3-5 days, like a shipment from Amazon. :) Patience really is a virtue. Slow down and enjoy the ride.

  • Thank you for this…and your daily columns. It keeps me mindful that gratitude and appreciation for what I have, where I am, and who I have the choice and chance to be are precious.

    And how true it is that when we are consistently loving and giving people are often suspicious of our motives. However, I just keep on, keeping on.

    And how true it also is that when we are always easy to get along with some take advantage and are insulted and outraged even when we sometimes have to say “No. Sorry, I can’t/won’t, etc.” to them.

    To that end a story I once worked in an office where there were two very strong, controlling women who tried to boss everyone. As a supervisor (not theirs) it was difficult to deal with their interference with my staff. One new young employee came to me and complained each time she did what she was supposed to, they undermined her . I asked her to send them to me if they tried to change what she was doing. She said “I suppose I shouldn’t complain because they are good to me”. To that I just smiled and said “Yes, and they will be good to you….until the day you have to tell them no.”

  • Especially, during this consumer-driven time of year; I appreciate this post on enjoying what I have. I feel - quite often - that I need to have more, do more and be more. I am kicking that thought to the curb! Your post are inspiring and life-altering.

  • I need to remind myself not to let some people spend too much time in my brain.

  • I love you guys so much! Your posts are always so timely - fitting into what I need at the exact moment. You’re constantly helping me grow and understand myself. Thanks again!

  • Once again, you hit the mark with your points and I am most grateful. We are bombarded day and night with suggestions thru the media of what we might have, what we should have, and how our lives are lacking if we don’t have. Appreciation for what’s around us combats all of that for a much happier ending. Thanks, and happy holidays!

  • Quite an interesting article. I’m in awe!!!

    Thank you so much guys! Never a dull moment on your blog.

  • Some rich food for thought here… the major stressor I work at avoiding is value judgements - the inner chatter about “right/wrong”, “good/bad” and “should/shouldn’t”.

    Stepping back, taking the witness perspective and letting go of “control” helps me to look at events for what they are. They’re just events, with a possible valuable lesson, but nothing I need to fix or adjust. Thanks for another great post!

  • “The idea that everything should be easy”

    I get what you mean, but the stressor about this for me isn’t that everything should be easy, but the fact that absolutely everything is just unremittingly difficult - that absolutely NOTHING whatsoever is ever easy. I accept having to work for progress, but implicit in that if I work, I should see some progress, not just have to grind on and on and on and basically get nowhere. I suppose I could say it actually doesn’t increase my stress level, in and of itself, very much. It just exhausts the energy I have for all the other stressors in my life. So my ability to shrug off negativity, ignore bad advice and position myself to change often just goes to nothing because it’s all gone fighting to stay in place.

  • #3 & 7 - spot on. Am working very hard to change this type of behavior. When one has been this way for so long, it is a very hard process to change. I want to do this. I must do this. I can do this.

    Thank you.

  • It’s high time I give you both a big THANK YOU!!

    Over the past year life has been more than turbulent, however looking back I can see the huge changes.

    1) I felt I made a huge mistake moving and one year later, I’ve grown to appreciate my new surroundings. Decorating, gratitude and a change of perspective make a huge difference.

    2) My son going through much with university. He’s back this year doing better than ever and also obtained a part-time job and going to the gym.

    3) I accepted a new job. I knew two months in my current job was not right for me and not the right fit for me, however I had just moved, was dealing with my son and dealing with the job was something that had to go on the backburner. I didn’t want to stick around because no matter how I cut it, the environment was toxic. I had to do what was best for me and did it.

    Your site has done more for me than you can imagine.

    Keep inspiring and touching our souls to the core.

  • I think you’ve just described one of the political parties to a tee… lets say, it can be your preference as to which one you described…

  • Thank you so much Marc… This one was really needed right now… :)

    I’m one of your Austin “peeps”.. and look forward to meeting up with you and Angel again soon.

  • Reading this just made my day!

  • Once again, another fantastic article arriving at the right time. Been struggling with these “stressors” for quite a while and to just read the reasonings as to “not to”, makes me very hopeful that the change I am ready to embark on is not only a needed one but a good one to make.

    Thanks again!

  • You guys absolutely rock my world. I love to get your posts every morning, each one is so wise and smart and dead on. Thanks for another gem!

  • Wow, everything in this article is so true that it is almost seems unrealistic, because it’s such a shock. I would also like to add to the list “news”. The major news channels and newspapers only show the negative in the world so if you are exposed to those type of “news” on a regular basis you might start believing the world is a horrible place…

  • I want to live by this statement: “Not everything that’s faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it’s faced.” It is truly a lesson to be learned.

  • Uplifting, positive and insightful post, as always. Thank you

  • I was listening to the radio the other day and an astronaut was talking about his time in space. He was the guy who played his guitar in his capsule, doing his Bowie impression. Anyway he talked about looking down on this planet and how beautiful it looked from a distance - he said it blew him away. Which got me thinking maybe that’s what I should do when somebody or something is getting me down. Distance myself from it - look at things differently, and see if my thinking changes. In other words standing away from the negative may produce a more positive perspectives. In a world full of horror and misery, there is still beauty all around if we look for it. So I’d say keep looking for the positive!

  • Chimpy, once again, I am right there with you on this: “The idea that everything should be easy.”

    I know I’m against the odds on my dreams, and with every setback, obstacle and brick wall I bang my head against, it gets harder and harder to stay positive, push through it and keep going, especially when people I liked and trusted and helped at different times, let me down and made it even more difficult. The moment I asked for help, friends who were once amazing turned on me and treated me with suspicion and anger and accusations, like I had some kind of ulterior motive or agenda instead of what was actually there, to the point I was constantly apologizing and explaining myself, who actually put obstacles in my way to stop me because of it.

    On the plus side, it made me realize they weren’t really friends and were only in it for themselves and I was on my own, so hopefully I’ll be able to recognize the difference in the future. On the downside, it made me realize they weren’t really friends and were only in it for themselves and I was on my own, which hurt and is one of the hardest things to get over, but is the reality.

    So I guess in the end, it isn’t always about your dreams not being easy that just require more hard work and perseverance. Sometimes it’s about other people just not wanting you to achieve them and stopping it in its tracks. I’m not sure how to overcome that kind of stalemate. I’ve just been trying to get over it and focus on other dreams.

    My confidence, instincts and faith have taken a hard hit, and my heart isn’t in it most of the time, and the joy in all of it has been sucked out completely, but focusing on the other dreams helps, and I hold onto the knowledge that at some point, none of it will matter or hurt. I really look forward to that day.

  • This was a great read, thank you!

    For me, when it comes to interacting with negative people in my life, I find that it is sometimes better to give off a neutral vibe rather than a positive vibe.

    For example, my roommate is an extremely negative person. So, the way I deal with it is by completely minimizing my interactions with him. Whenever I do interact with him, I give off a neutral vibe rather than a positive vibe because I find that if I smile and laugh at what he says, he thinks I like his behavior and he actually tries to interact with me more.

    I am also, of course, making my best effort to find a new place as soon as possible so I don’t have to deal with him anymore.

  • Wow!!

  • This is is crazy. You guys always leave me stunned with the beautiful truth. I am so thankful that God gave us people like you on earth. I am completely aware of all the things you just mentioned. I just can’t express how much you’ve opened my eyes. I am literally out of words to really tell you what exactly has opened my eyes and what not. All I can say is thank you.

  • Nothing short of the truth itself… Amazing post! I am already thinking of buying your book!

  • I love the statement that we need to give up on the idea of perfection.

    I had an epiphany the other day that I was putting too much pressure on myself to perfect my business. The reality is that it will never be perfect, and my greatest chance at being my best will come when I let go of the need to chase perfection.

    Thanks for the article.

  • What a beautiful post. Just what I needed. Thank you so much!

  • Every journey to our purpose is tailor made. Can’t take credit for that statement. I forgot where I read it, but it’s true. Thanks for this.

  • Thanks for sharing this post. Great points!

  • Jasmine Franchesca
    December 15th, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Wow! You guys are so insightful!
    Thank you so much for everything.
    Happy Holidays to everyone.

  • @Dev: It’s nice to hear you have a whole new appreciation for the words. Congratulations on taking action!

    @Beth W: I love that saying… and what a great way to live!

    @Sabrina: Thank you! =)

    @Aleja: The secret to getting ahead is simply getting started. Starting, all by itself, is usually sufficient to build enough momentum to keep the ball rolling. You can do it!

    @Amandah: As always, thank you for sharing your personal take on these points. Many of which I have experienced right along side of you.

    @Lorna: Something we struggle with also. Great input, thank you.

    @Chimpy: Understand the difference between healthy striving and striving for perfection is critical to laying down unnecessary weight. The foundation of success is not a set of achievements or a combination of external factors; it is a mindset. Success is an attitude that comes from a framework of powerful beliefs and empowering thoughts. Take a deep breath, you are making progress, take a few minutes every day to recognize them.

    @Connie: Thank you for inspiring us! =)

    @Kosio Angelov: I completely agree with you, I can only watch so much. It’s great to balance it with all the positive, remarkable events going on in the community.

    @Kevin Halls: Great perspective and often times works wonders!

    @Melissa Webster: Be aware of your mental self-talk. We all talk silently to ourselves in our heads, but we aren’t always conscious of what we’re saying or how it’s affecting us. You are making progress! Trust me. Keep your head up and keep moving forward. No one can stop you.

    @All: If you have faith in your abilities, if you stay true to the path that feels right, if you channel your passion into action, you will ultimately achieve a breakthrough. As always, thank you for the added insight and all the encouraging words.

  • Ah, such wonderful reminders. Somehow seeing these in writing makes it okay to let go of those typical roadblocks or people and our own behaviors which hold us back. Thank you. :)

  • I am addicted to your blog/website because it makes me want to become a better person and improve strengthen my character!!

    I love this quote “Dear Past, thank you for all the life lessons you have taught me.  Dear Present, I am ready now!” 

    To get rid of stress I need to let go of the past and embrase the present and look forward to the future.

    Thank you for your motivational, much needed blog.

  • Everything in this post was exactly what I needed to be reminded of. It’s like I’ve been hugged by a friend. :) I’m a 21 year old grad student experiencing dramatic changes in my life, and have been feeling like I’m carrying the world on my shoulders.

    Thank you, and by the way that’s a very nice little story when you were nine, so precious the notion that even though life is hard we have people in our lives who care about us. “Together” is the best place to be when everything gets too complicated.

  • Arup Jyoti Mahanta
    December 16th, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I am really impressed and I have been able to reform life with your practical theories. Thank you

  • Thank you guys. You have no idea what this post means to me at this moment … Currently I am facing a phase of life where I have to say “no” to something being offered from my supreme seniors at work, just to do something that I want to do in life and I am trying my best to achieve that. Your post has silently strengthened me and gave me a belief that I don’t have to let small minds convince me that my dreams are too big.

  • 8. Those who couldn’t -care-less about you, but suddenly know what’s best for you.

    Sometimes people who have shown no previous interest in your health or welfare will suddenly offer you unsolicited advice on sensitive personal matters.

    Be careful. If you didn’t tell them about your problem yourself, then they heard it, secondhand, from someone else. Translation: they were gossiping with someone about you.

    They probably didn’t get the facts correct and their motive is circumspect. If you were friends and you valued their opinion you would likely have discussed the matter with them yourself.

    Such people offer “advice” so that they can go back to whoever provided them with the gossip and tell them how you reacted to what they said to you. Your best interests are not their motive. They just want to perpetuate the story.

    Remember: Any dog that will bring a bone, will carry one away.

  • Hi, Marc!

    I set very high standards for myself. I remind myself occasionally that perfectionism can be a problem. I wrote a comment on Jon Morrow’s blog yesterday and realized that I had made an error after publishing the comment.

    What was the error? I had omitted the word “the” a single time when it was needed. I fought the urge to post another comment citing my error. Jon is very supportive and was not going to condemn me for a simple oversight.

    My better instincts prevailed when I decided to skip it.

    “Perfect is the enemy of good.”

  • Thank you. I constantly struggle when faced with an assignment or a project because of that “lingering idea of perfection.” I become afraid to get anything done because of a subconscious fear that stresses me out. It’s hard to describe it, but the feeling is horrible. I’ve made up my mind, starting today, I will choose to completely ignore this feeling. Amazing post!

  • Excellent, profound, great perspectives. I love them all. More please!

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