Success & Stress
Some conceive that success and stress go hand in hand – that if you strive for or even attain some level of success, stress and anxiety are inevitable. Still others reject “success” altogether and consider that ultimate success is found in doing nothing and experiencing zero stress. The truth is that the person who strives for nothing and does nothing is extremely stressed out indeed; he’s miserable because he produces nothing of value. No matter what he tells you, he’s depressed, which is worse than being stressed.
The first thing to know is that if you are pursuing your ambition, you are far better off than those who have given up. And if you’ve given up, you can always decide to reignite your ambitions and purposes.
There are ways to work industriously toward your objectives and reduce stress at the same time.
Exercise & Eat Better
Exercising every morning or every night makes a big difference. You don’t have to be obsessed with how many miles you can run, how much you can bench or the circumference of your biceps, but simply working up a sweat and getting your cardiovascular system going makes a BIG difference. It not only reduces stress, but tends to help you get more done while you’re at work. You simply feel better and it pays off in many ways, not the least of which is improved health.
“Eating right” has as many opinions as there are different types of food and ways to prepare it: vegetarian, vegan, paleo, raw, juice fasts, cleanses, organic, macrobiotic, etc., etc. I’m simply saying “eat better!” Chances are you can eat better if you can’t eat perfect.
A word of warning on the word “Natural”: Virtually anything can be labeled “Natural” even when it has tons of things in it that are anything but. Here’s an enlightening and entertaining link on what “Natural” really means when you see it labeled on food that you buy: The Natural Effect.
I recommend organic over “natural” any day. Heavily processed foods are loaded with chemicals, additives, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. They are also grown using pesticides and through genetic engineering, thus becoming GMOs (genetically modified organisms). A number of countries in Europe and elsewhere have banned GMOs, while they are omnipresent in the United States. All these chemicals and oddities with our food have been linked to things like anxiety, fatigue, depression, and a range of physical problems.
Locate foods that are less processed, unprocessed or organic. Eat better and see how your stress levels reduce.
If you’re always worried about stress, you’re going to be stressed out. If you’re always running from stress, you may find it chasing you – and you’ll be stressed about it. By “embrace” I mean don’t be afraid of it or worry about it. Stress could simply mean you’re active and living life; you aren’t a spectator; you’re in the game and not loafing on the sidelines. You can REDUCE stress but you need not be STRESSED about stress. Get the difference?
When you are stressed, take a look at what you’re stressed about. Take it out of the realm of a “generality”; you’re stressed about “something” – look at what it is so you can take action. Use your stress to further your success. If you’re stressed about something, instead of obsessing on your negative emotions (i.e. stress), focus on how life will be better once you’ve solved the problem and emerged victorious on the other side. Keep that vision in mind. Do this consistently and experience less stress and greater success.
The Power of the Walk
I am a strong advocate of taking a walk. You can be stressed about specific things. And you can be stressed and not even know why. Instead of automatically looking inward, get outside and take a walk. Taking a walk is a universal remedy that will calm down any situation. It may not “solve” everything, but it will put you in a better frame of mind for solving it. It all else fails, take a walk.
I can’t even count how many times I’ve been trying to sort someone out who was very upset and simply took them for a walk. We talked it out during the walk and by the time we came back it was solved. But talking a walk can be done all by itself. It’s a remarkable therapy. Just be sure you’re not looking at your phone; rather, look at things in your environment. It’s also an idea generator. Many creative people get their best ideas while they’re out walking or running. It is a simple yet powerful remedy.
Uphold High Standards
When people get into high pressure situations, they resort to shortcutting. This gets them into even more trouble. If you have a certain standard that you know works, don’t compromise it for the sake of “speed” or a quick buck. Having high standards got you to where you are, so lowering them will bring you down. If you tailor suits and gained a reputation for being excellent at it, keep being excellent at it. When you have a flood of orders, don’t cut corners (literally or figuratively); hire someone to help with the load. When you don’t shortcut, you are forced to be cleverer and more resourceful in high pressure situations.
There can be a mindset in business that if it makes you money, it’s justifiable – no matter the costs. Don’t fall into that. What will ultimately bring you success and peace of mind will be maintaining high standards and taking care of people. Ethics in business includes delivering what you promise and acting responsibly. The corporation that thinks nothing of polluting a local water supply may be raking it in but will fall over the cliff sooner or later. The official that takes bribes will regret it privately or pay for it publicly. Don’t believe otherwise – people don’t simply “get away” with things. That is only temporary – what goes around comes around as they say. Your success and peace of mind will depend to a marked degree on upholding a high standard.
Make Your Passion Your Job
There are many ways to go about this, but they boil down to making your passion your job or making your job your passion. You can decide to be passionate about your job. You can make your hobby or side project, i.e. your passion, into your job. You can merge your passion and your job so they are interconnected or one and the same. There are many incarnations of this principle.
For me, I was passionate about helping people off drugs so I made it my job and my lifelong pursuit, pure and simple. I get up every day on fire to go to work because I really care about this. A friend of mine was writing a blog for a football website because he loves football. Eventually the site had paid advertising. A little later, the site was purchased by Sports Illustrated. Combined passion and job.
There is often a bridge or segue required, and it takes hard work, but such things can be done and are done all the time. You will probably find that the more invested and passionate you are about something, the less real stress you feel – that is because of the joy that it brings you. It takes doing your day job, paying the bills, strategizing and putting in the overtime, but the payoff can be phenomenal.
Switch off the Media: Social & Antisocial
“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day…General facts may indeed be collected from them, such as that Europe is now at war…but no details can be relied on. I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.”
– Thomas Jefferson, 14 June 1807
Thomas Jefferson said that in 1807, and little has changed except for the quantity and consolidation of what is termed “news”.
According to research, there are approximately 1,500 newspapers, 1,100 magazines, 9,000 radio stations, 1,500 TV stations, and 2,400 publishers all owned by 6 corporations that control about 90% of what Americans see, hear and read as “news”. If that is not slanted, I don’t know what is.
Don’t believe it? Even talk show host Conan O’Brien and his writers noticed it. These short videos illustrate just how homogenized even your “local” news has become: Conan #1, Conan #2, Conan #3.
It could be time to switch off the television, close the computer, put the phone in your pocket and the tablet in its case. You may feel like you’ve “lost” something at first, but that will soon be replaced by genuine interest in your surroundings. I’m not saying don’t read anything. You’re reading this! But just be sure to think for yourself, and I highly recommend limiting personal and family “screen time” if you haven’t already done so. Tune in instead to chasing your dreams and feel considerably less stressed in the process.
Talk About It
Rational communication between human beings combined with decisive action is the best remedy for anything. Talk about it! Mutual understanding and trust are the building blocks for a better world. Talk about it! Take a walk or sit somewhere undisturbed with someone you trust and talk about the situation. Just discussing it is a type of therapy. You know you’re doing it right when solutions start effortlessly presenting themselves. When you talk with others, be sure to LISTEN and ACKNOWLEDGE. Communication is so vital to human relations that we have a precise line-up of specialized courses on the subject at our drug rehabilitation facilities.
Communication is the primary step for fixing any problem and solving any situation. And that applies fully to the professional world. Have you ever felt less stressed about something because you talked with someone who really listened, acknowledged and understood? They may or may not have had an immediate solution, but you probably felt a lot better about it and came up with possible solutions much quicker, even while you were still having the conversation. That’s what I mean. Elevate your success potential by raising your communication to a higher plane of understanding and creativity.
If you are a responsible person, you probably have a tendency to attempt to carry the whole load yourself. This seldom works. You need to delegate and divvy up the tasks at hand. This is the downfall of many a manager – they simply don’t delegate and get crushed under the burden. Delegating doesn’t mean you dump it on someone else who doesn’t even know what they’re doing. It means making sure you give it to the right person, ensuring they know what do, checking up on them and correcting them where needed.
But it also means being able to let go. Trusting others is vital to the equation. It even applies in your own home. When you go through this process over and over, you tend to get better at it. And you’ll find yourself less stressed while making greater progress toward your objectives.
Out of Site = Out of Mind
When your drawers are full of unpaid bills and correspondence that will bite back one day, you set yourself up for extra stress and anxiety. If you’re like millions of others, you easily forget all the details and inadvertently pave the way for incessant collection calls and other elements you don’t want anything to do with. An important first step is to empty the drawers and lay everything out – either on a flat surface or posted on the wall. Anything you can handle at once, do so. You’ll be left with series of pressing obligations. And yes, it can be quite sobering.
The advantage is that instead of a vague and nebulous sensation of dread, you’ll have a precise set of tasks to attend to. Solutions tend to present themselves easier when you know the exact nature of the problem. A problem has parts. Breaking a problem into its component parts is itself therapeutic. When it’s out of site, it’s out of mind. When it’s laid out before you, you are able to confront it and remedy it or at least formulate a plan. There are also plenty of apps you can use to help organize your bills, your responsibilities and your life.
Revisit Your Purpose
One reason people get stressed is they simply need a “bigger game”. They really aren’t invested enough in what they’re doing, so they create their own problems on a sort of automatic basis. Perhaps you can think of examples of this: The child who is bored and fights with his brother for lack of something to do; the teenager who gets into trouble with drugs and the law because no one told him he can actually be of value to society; the once productive tradesman who, after being laid off and going on unemployment, finds himself feeling demoralized and depressed; the salesman who has no faith in what he’s selling anymore.
Such a dilemma could mark the time for some soul-searching. Ask yourself a few questions about why you got into your line of work in the first place, where you’re headed, and what you ought to be doing that would be truly fulfilling. If you come up with some right answers and make some positive decisions, you should feel some resurgence and rejuvenation.
Life piles up failures that make us lose sight of our original purpose. We need to revisit that purpose on a routine basis. Just like a car must refuel for the journey and a steam engine must be constantly stoked, so too must each of us refuel and rekindle the fires that fuel our purposes and spark our creativity.
You need not strain your brain too much, and you probably know the right answer anyway. With a renewed purpose, we stress less. We are too busy making our dreams into realities. And that is a definition of success!