“If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person right now.”
Pain happens to you. Stress happens through you.
Stress is your resistance to what’s happening. Life events may create temporary pain, but they do not in themselves create long-term stress – your resistance creates this stress. And it transpires most frequently in one of two ways (or a combination of the two):
- You refuse to accept the present reality
- You choose to worry and think about every other time and place
Thus, the only real problem in your life at any given moment is your mind’s perpetual resistance to life as it unfolds.
If you want to conquer the daily stress and anxiety of life, the first key is to live in the present – just BE here now. Let go of what you think your life is supposed to look like right now, and simply appreciate it for everything that it is.
I want you to meditate for a moment on the practice of being mindfully present. Because that’s the foundation.
Once you are HERE without resistance, you are then able to apply the strategies below into your life, gradually. Building upon our recent video blog post on stress reduction, here are 21 timeless strategies Angel and I personally live by to lower our daily stress:
- Take off your mask. – Let people around you see the real, imperfect, quirky, weird, beautiful, magical person YOU are. That is enough.
- Trust your intuition. – You don’t need to explain or justify your feelings to everyone, just trust your own inner guidance, it often knows best.
- Let go of the thoughts that aren’t serving you. – Right this moment, your thoughts are setting the direction for your day. Choose thoughts that lead to the day you most desire to live today.
- Firmly decide what matters and what doesn’t. – Stress comes from the way you react, not the way life is. The meaning of everything in your life is the meaning you give it. Inner peace begins the moment you choose to be mindful by not allowing another person or event to dominate your emotions.
- Take a deep breath when you need one. – You don’t have to solve every problem in your life before you can enjoy being at peace. (Read The Power of Now.)
- Keep sanity in your schedule. – Sometimes we have to say “no” to good things to be able to say “yes” to important things. We can’t do it all. Be mindful and choose wisely.
- Practice gratitude. – If you look for reasons to be grumpy, you’ll find plenty of them. Look instead for reasons to be grateful, and see them everywhere. Remind yourself how fortunate you are to be experiencing this moment right here, right now. The more you appreciate it, the better it’ll be.
- Detach yourself from the habit of taking things personally. – If you take everything personally, you’ll remain offended for the rest of your life. What other people do is often because of them, not you.
- Realize you likely need a lot less than you have. – The richest person is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least. Wealth is a mindset. Want less and appreciate more today.
- Fill your life with lots of experiences, not lots of things. – Physical clutter often creates emotional clutter. Focus on having incredible stories to tell, not incredible clutter in your closets. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Simplicity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Just do your best and appreciate it. – Regardless of what happens today, remember, you won’t enjoy your life if you don’t enjoy your challenges. And the very challenges that seem so hard when you’re going thru them are the ones you’ll look back on with gratitude for how far you’ve come.
- Focus on the positive. – Positive thinking isn’t about expecting the best to happen every time – it’s about accepting what happens every time, and making the best of it. In other words, a sincerely positive attitude is not a reaction to the way things are – it’s an expression of the way you choose for things to be.
- Let go of what’s no longer there. – Letting go is oftentimes a step forward. Sometimes you have to be willing to walk away from what you thought you wanted, to find what you truly need. So don’t let your fears and pains of the past affect your outlook on the present. Live for what today has to bring, not what yesterday has taken away.
- Be humble. Be teachable. – An open mind is always less stressed. Remember, the world is bigger than your view of the world. There’s always room for a new idea, a new step… a new beginning.
- Take small daily steps. – Thinking too long about doing something is often the reason it never gets done. Don’t obsess about hitting home runs every second. Just get on base, daily. Build positive rituals into your life. Be faithful. Be tenacious. Have integrity. Have fun. Be steadfast. Trust yourself. (Angel and I build positive daily rituals with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of Getting Back to Happy.)
- Embrace self-discipline. – If you run away from self-discipline it punishes you. When you embrace self-discipline it enables you to achieve the most incredible things (including peace of mind).
- Practice patience as you work for your desires. – In a culture yearning and tempted by instant gratification, we must learn the value of patience and perseverance. Be present. Be steadfast.
- Exercise your love. – Our stresses, anxieties, frustrations, and heartache often arise simply because we do not see the world, others, or even ourselves as worthy of love.
- Spend time with supportive, loving people. – Your capacity to be both effective and happy is directly related to the quality of people whom most closely surround you every single day. And in these relationships, the little things often mean the most. So today, just be 100% present with those you love – BE ALL THERE. That is enough.
- Walk away from drama gracefully. – Wherever there’s lots of drama, there’s often lots of lying, manipulation and needless stress.
- Sleep on it. – If all else fails, the best advice I’ve found is still just to “sleep on it.” Give yourself some needed downtime. Everything changes in the morning.
And I want to leave you with a little reminder:
Whatever is happening in your life right now…
No beating yourself up! No matter what!
Even if life has been stressful lately, and you’re a long way from successfully implementing the ideas and strategies discussed in this post, that’s OK. Be patient with yourself. It likely took you years to form the habits, routines and life situations that are creating needless stress in your life. So it will naturally take some time to form new and better ones. But I promise you this: Even the smallest step in the right direction today will bring you some peace. Take that step. And then take another one tomorrow.
In what way do you need to lower your daily stress? What thoughts, habits or attachments are creating needless stress in your life? We would love to hear from YOU. Leave a comment below and let us know what’s going on at your end.
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Photo by: Emily Roman