How to live a stress-free life

woman sitting by her mac book stressed

Stuff happens. Good stuff and bad stuff. All day, every day. To everyone. No one is immune. And when it comes to the bad stuff, there are two kinds of people: Those who stress about it and those who don’t. Those who stress about it get anxious, worried, insecure, angry, and paralyzed with fear. Those who don’t stress just deal with the bad stuff and keep moving. What do they know that the others don’t? Why do they know how to live a stress-free life?

The answer is simple. They see stress for what it is and decide that they won’t take part in it. 

So what is stress?

Stress is a thief.

Stressing over things steals time and energy from your day. 

Stress is a complete waste of time. Every minute you spend stressing is one less minute you spend solving the problem. Problems never get better over time; they only get worse. They get more complicated and more entrenched. 

Stressing steals your energy; once something bad has happened, technically the worst is over. But, if you spend a lot of time obsessing about it, the problem only gets larger. The problem infects and takes the power away from all the other things you need to accomplish in your busy day, and in your life. 

Last time I checked, life is finite. None of us is immune from the final exit. There is only so much time, and only so much energy. Spending time and energy on something that has no value whatsoever steals precious moments from our allotment.  

Stress is a very expensive status symbol.

It’s fashionable to be stressed out. Stressing makes us feel important and superior. “I can’t believe this happened to me! Can you imagine? I am sooooo stressed out!” “I’ve just got so much to do. I’m so overwhelmed.” In other words, “Look at me, I’m so much in demand. Obviously, I am a very important person.” 

Sharing our stress by complaining about terrible things also makes us feel superior to others. “I’m so upset. That idiot made me wait for 20 minutes, again. Can you believe it? I would never treat someone that way.” 

The need to be perceived as important or superior is a very expensive habit. Those who don’t waste time on this useless pursuit of stress recognition get twice as much done as those who complain. In the big scheme of things, the more important person is the one who spends their time on things that matter and that make the world a better place. 

So how do you avoid stress?

The answer doesn’t lie in getting a stress-free job (yeah, good luck with that!) or reading stress-free-life quotes every day. The answer is incredibly simple: You just decide not to play. 

When something bad happens, no matter what it is, you immediately realize that something bad has happened, and then you get to work. You consciously decide you are not going to give even one minute of your time to that terrible stress thief, and you just keep moving. You don’t feed the beast. You don’t complain; you don’t cry; you don’t assume you can’t fix it; you don’t “catastrophize” in your head (automatically assuming the worst); you don’t beat yourself up if you have made a mistake; you don’t fear the repercussions; and you certainly don’t think, “How can I cover this up?” 

Instead, you get moving on the solution, and you smile a little to yourself because the stress thief couldn’t get his hands on your cheery disposition and your ability to get things done. You find it, face it, and fix it, and then keep moving to the next task. 

If you are in a situation that stresses you out, figure out what is not working, and get to work fixing it. 

It may take time to develop this new habit; it will feel really strange at first. You’ll feel like you are unfeeling. 

But feelings are best saved for those we love, and things we love to do, not some stupid theif who only steals from us and leaves us with less. 

Save your spirit for the good stuff; focus that wonderful energy and compassion on solving the problem and making things better. 

Just skip the stress stage. 

That’s the secret to a stress-free life. 

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