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, there
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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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