The world today can be chaotic and complex and many people are under a lot of stress.  It is amazing anyone can survive in the hustle and bustle of an environment that is increasingly moving at a faster pace.  Way one to stay sane in a crazy world is to look at all the possible stress reducer options; as Richard Carlson says in his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.., there are simple ways to keep the little things from driving you crazy. When stress is reduced, things seem to go more smoothly.  Following are twelve stress reducer options to help you stay sane.

1. Perfection is not Necessary—Redefine Your Meaning of Accomplishment

Let’s face it. When we are worried about things, people and even ourselves being perfect, therePerfection; Source Microsoft OfficeCredit: Source Microsoft Office is little time or room for inner peace.  Focusing on imperfections pulls us away from living life to its fullest; of being kind and gently not only to others but to ourselves as well. It adds the pressure of high expectations that we and others often fail to meet.  You need to realize that while there may be a better way of doing things; it does not mean you cannot appreciate the way things are at the moment.

People usually define accomplishments in terms of external goals such as job promotions, recognitions and rewards, winning games, or earning lots of money.  These are all worthy accomplishments; however, for the purpose of inner peace, accomplishments can be redefined based on internal aspects. An accomplishment of staying centered in the midst of adversity is quite an accomplishment for many people, though most would not see it as such. Accomplishments of being kind and thoughtful to others, changing the inner self, are worthy accomplishments that many do not acknowledge.

2. Allowing Boredom does not Constitute Laziness

Today’s society is for the most part fast-paced and always in motion. Many people believe that those who lead their lives in a relaxed and gentle manner achieve much less in life; that the only way to achieve goals is to work frantically non-stop or life will be unfulfilled. Nothing could be further from the truth. When people have inner relaxation, it allows more focus and much more energy to attend to matters.

Stress Reducer; Source: Microsoft OfficerCredit: Source: Microsoft OfficerRelaxation and gentleness does not mean those people are bored or boring; and definitely does not mean they are lazy. Occasional boredom can be a good thing.  Allowing an hour or so of boredom often brings about relaxation and finally inner peace.  Most people find it difficult to “do nothing;” however, with practice, doing nothing does eventually teach relaxation. Allowing yourself to be bored for a little while, enables the brain to take a break, to rejuvenate and the body to relax. You can come back refreshed and energized. This does not mean spend the whole day doing nothing. It simply means for a short time—an hour or so, allow yourself the freedom to “just be” without any conditions, without any problem solving, but to clear the mind and not worry about what you “should be doing.”  Do not think about the next thing that needs doing. Doing is not being, and humans need time to simply “be.”

Many times people interrupt our lives with their problems, or life in general brings interruptions in which we decide to engage. Carlson explains this as “catching balls” that are thrown to us. As he suggests, we are not obligated to catch those balls, it is our choice. We need only engage in interactions at our discretion. Of course common sense prevails in some situations, for example at work we may be required to solve the problems of others in our work capacity. The meaning of Carlson’s analogy is that in our everyday life there are numerous occasions in which we “catch the ball” and in so doing, increase our stress level. In actuality, it is neither our obligation or in our best interest to catch the ball. We can decide if we have the time to listen to a friend’s problem and try to solve it; or if we gently let our friend know that we are otherwise occupied.  This may seem contradictory in terms of previous suggestions; however, it is not.  There are many times when we will catch the ball gladly; it is simply that we are freely choosing to do so that makes the difference.

3. Practicing Patience Initially Takes Work

One of the hardest things for many people to do is to be patient. This seems to be an aspect of people that has become less prevalent with the changing society. People impatiently wait in lines, are sometimes rude about waiting; they want everything in an instant. Computers are faster, games are faster, and it has expanded to how people interact with others. People interrupt, finish sentences for others, all in the mode of impatience, the need to “keep moving.”

Interrupting others is not listening to others.  It shows disrespect and how little you care about their thoughts and opinions.  It “discounts” others.  It is also exhausting for both of you.  You not only have to keep track of your own thoughts, but also the thoughts of others. Both of you become nervous and anxious and spend more energy than is necessary on the interaction. Allowing others to speak without interruption and to finish their own sentences shows respect and gives the opportunity to improve the relationship.

Becoming more patient allows acceptance and living in the moment. Patience is essential for inner peace. Practicing patience takes practice if you are an impatient person. Start slowly, practice five minutes at a time. You will find that as you practice patience, patience increases and so does inner peace.

4. Choose Your Battles: Putting Things in Perspective

In my therapy practice one thing that I always advised parents was to “choose your battles.”  Not only is this good advice for parenting; it is helpful for life in general. Over the course of a lifetime there will be many battles to fight, some important, others small and insignificant, but perceived as catastrophic at the time.

Choose Your Battles; Source: MorguefileCredit: Source: MorguefileOne way to determine the importance of a situation is to ask yourself if you will even remember it a year from now. If not, it is likely unimportant. Most of the things we agonize over, argue with spouses or loved ones over, or “get worked up” over, are relatively unimportant. For example, does it really matter that a child wears clothes an adult deems “uncoordinated,” or that a neighbor’s tree sheds leaves on your lawn?  It may be inconvenient to rake up more leaves; but in the big picture, is the neighbor doing this on purpose to inconvenience you or is trim treeing not in their budget at the moment?  If it is a matter of costing you money; then perhaps it is a battle you will wish to fight. It is a matter of perspective and what is really important to your safety and welfare.

Determine what is important to you. Defending your values, your life, your property, your family, you decide. Other things are diversions to your inner peace. Arguing over which restaurant to eat at may be important if one of the restaurants has practices that are in opposition to your core values; otherwise, this argument really isn’t worth fighting.    

5. Do an Act of Kindness with no Expectations of a Returned Favor

Random Act of Kindness: Source: MorguefileCredit: Source: MorguefileWhen we do random acts of kindness, they are often not random at all. There is often a sense of entitlement involved; one that expects a returned act of kindness.  How often do we do something with the expectation that it will bring something in return. Now, of course in some instances, this is perfectly appropriate. However, in many cases, an act of kindness needs to have no strings attached. For example, picking up litter as you are walking around your neighborhood is something that can be done without expectations of a returned favor. 

In the movie Pay it Forward, random acts of kindness performed resulted in further acts of kindness in turn. People tend to be happier when they receive some gesture of kindness and are more likely to pass those feelings on through other acts.  It is an old adage that a smile can make someone’s day; this is true. Allowing a frazzled woman trying to handle a baby to go ahead of you in the grocery store line will do more than you will see at the time. That one act of kindness may just prevent a meltdown. Random acts of kindness tend to be “win-win” situations but we may not see the results—at that needs to be okay, but remember, we are not doing it for any type of return favor.  The reward we get is that peaceful feeling.  In fact when we are happier, the brain releases more endorphins which then increase our good feelings.  Plus, if we do not expect favors to be returned, when they do come, they are a pleasant good-feeling-inducing surprise. We will not have the negative feelings of potentially unmet expectations.


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6. Look Beyond Behavior and see the Innocence

Another thing I used to tell parents in therapy was to look beyond their children’s behavior to what they are really trying to express.  This too is helpful for other aspects in life. When behavior is not the issue, often you can see the innocence of the situation. When a child runs into the house to tell you something they just discovered the intention is usually not to anger, interrupt your work or disturb you.

This is not advocating illegal, unruly behavior; the meaning is in regards to behavior that is Innocence; Source: Microsoft OfficeCredit: Source: Microsoft Officefrustrating and annoying.  Compassion to look past the behavior and see what is behind it is an element a person with inner peace carries. There is a story of a person driving to a hospital in response that his wife was in a terrible accident. Behind him, another car approaches rapidly and tries to speed around him. In his anger at this person, he cuts the car off and continues to the hospital. When he gets there, he finds his wife has died. The nurse informs him the surgeon who was on her way to treat his wife was cut off by someone and did not arrive in time.  Assumptions can be extremely dangerous.  Wouldn’t it serve us better to look beyond the behavior, not make assumptions and show some compassion towards the innocence of others? Instead we often take behaviors and the actions of others as personal affronts. 

7. Be Flexible to Change

Change is difficult for most people. We enjoy familiarity and become anxious when change happens. Change happens often, plans change probably more often than we’d like. The question is how you respond to changes in plans.  The more flexible you are to changes in plans, the more flexible you are to change in general.

Be Flexible; Source: Microsoft OfficeCredit: Source: Microsoft OfficeChange brings opportunities to learn. Interestingly, we often ignore the best teachers around us, the ones who know us the best—our friends and family.  Many of us have developed the idea that we can no longer learn anything and are too prideful, embarrassed or stubborn to ask advice from family members or friends.  However, these are the people who can probably offer the most beneficial help to us.

Another teacher is the problems we face. Again, problems can bring change and it is sometimes difficult to think that the problems we face can actually teach us something. On the other hand, if we look at problems as teachers, we can learn a lot about ourselves and how we operate in the world. They can teach us preventions and new strategies. We can make better use of our energy by using problems as teachers. Ask yourself “What can I learn from this situation?” It can change your whole outlook on the problem.

8.  Accept the Fact Life is not Fair

There are billions of people on earth and each is unique with unique problems and situations. What happens for one, does not necessarily happen for another. When we dwell on how unfair life is, we spend energy on useless feelings and thoughts. Finding appreciation for the aspects of your life reserves energy, increases energy and well-being. When did it become practice to ensure that all kids win just because they participate? This is not life and teaches children a falsehood. Everyone does not win. Life is not fair. More is not better.

Life Isn’t Fair; Source: MorguefileCredit: Source: MorguefileWhen looking at wants versus needs, people tend to have a longer list on the “want” side.  The idea is to be happy with what you have, or at least find contentment in what you have instead of spending energy longing for things you do not have.  This does not mean people should not have a desire for the necessities of life. What it does mean is that no everyone will have designer jeans, a big house, and two cars. Look for the “half-full” version and find the joy in what you already have, not only in material items, but also in talents and gifts. Your strengths may not be evident in someone else; not everyone is a good athlete, artist, writer, actor or has any other of the multitude of talents spread across the world’s population.

9. You do not Have to be All Knowing

It is not important to know everything about everyone and everything. Many things are out of our control and it is not always necessary to know what the future holds. There are reasons that play out and we must patiently see what tomorrow brings. There is always a cause and effect relationship to events. We cannot assume we know all of the implications of an action, good or bad.

10. Mind Your Own Business

Tend to your own business instead of the business of others.  You will conserve energy and feel more inner peace. This is not advocating not helping others when asked; it is merely implying that you do not have to jump in to solve every problem. Some catch all the balls thrown to them; others grab the ball first without being asked.  It can drive you crazy if you spend your time trying to fix things that are out of your control.  Minding your own business also includes staying clear of gossip, criticizing others behind their backs and eavesdropping.

11. Take Responsibility for Your Actions

It is all too easy to blame others for our actions to avoid unpleasant consequences.  Blaming Take Responsibility; Source MorguefileCredit: Source Morguefileothers relieves us of our choices. No one can make you feel anything, it is your choice. Of course things others do or say can trigger feelings, but ultimately, it is our choice to allow a certain feeling to surface. This is no way means we should just let everyone say or do whatever they want to us because we can choose to ignore it.  We are not doormats to be walked on; it does mean that we need to be responsible for our actions, thoughts, and feelings.  Today’s society is all too eager to blame others, refusing to use common sense and choice. Is it McDonald’s fault that someone tips hot coffee in their lap?  Yet this person would complain if the coffee was cold.  Instead of taking the responsibility for spilling the hot coffee, the person instead blames McDonald’s for selling hot coffee without telling the person it is hot.

Taking responsibility also involves having some humility. It is not necessary to brag or take credit for everything you do. Letting others have the glory is a way of practicing humility.  Admitting our mistakes and taking responsibility for our actions when we are wrong is another way of being humble.

12. The Power of the Mind

Power of the Mind; Source MorguefileCredit: Source MorguefileMany people practice positive thinking.  There is truth in this attitude. The mind is powerful and mysterious in its healing powers. The more we think about a specific action, the more our behavior follows the thought.  When we look for the extraordinary in the ordinary, we become better in tune with the positive thought process.

The more we think about something, the more power it holds. Our behaviors are motivated by our thought patterns. The more we practice, the more we become.  It stands to reason that the more positive thoughts we have the more positive behavior we exhibit.  With the practice of positive thoughts and behavior, comes inner peace and well-being.

Try these suggestions as a stress reducer and a way to stay sane in this chaotic world of ours; even a country boy can survive this crazy world if he has a mind to do so.


The copyright of the article Even a Country Boy can Survive This Crazy World is owned by Cheryl Weldon and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

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The healing power of the mind