Let’s Stress Less and Change Your Life!
I’m about to play a trick on you now. I’m going to take the teachings of Matthew E. May, in his New York Times article, Achieving Mindfulness at Work, No Meditation Cushion Required, and change the utilization of his wisdom. He says,
There are two approaches to mindfulness: Eastern and Western. The Eastern view indeed positions meditation as an essential tool to achieving a mindful state. But the Eastern view is more about quieting the mind and suspending thought. This philosophy is almost the complete opposite of the Western view of mindfulness, which centers on active thinking.
I recommend that you read his whole article, which is thoughtful and well-written. Matthew is the author of a book, entitled, Winning the Brain Game. Let’s explore the above concept a bit first.
He has a suggestion for those times in which you want to switch your approach from trying to empty the mind of all thoughts to becoming fully aware of everything in the present moment, instead.
He says it is “a form of self-distancing and talking to yourself as an objective adviser would.”
The colloquial expressions for this include:
- “looking at things from 35,000 feet” (as if in an airplane)
- “pulling back and observing yourself from afar.”
- moving from the “subjective to the objective.”
He says you can help yourself in a few simple steps. What I want to do here is to share how those same steps also can help you build self-confidence and succeed – with or without mindfulness being part of your agenda!
Be Brave | Stress Less | Enjoy Life More
Stress can be caused by external circumstances and also by internal pressures we put on ourselves when we set expectations that are not easily met. Mr. May suggests that we usually make two unsubstantiated assumptions.
I laughed when I saw they are:
1) that something will happen and
2) it will be bad.
Two Half-Real, Half-Kidding Examples
- I’m going to look for a job. The job market is tough. I probably won’t get a job. All the companies require electronic applications, and I don’t know how to apply through all this new technology. I don’t interview well. Even if I get a job, it will take a long time. What if I become homeless?
- I want to find love. If I go online to one of those dating sites, I’ll probably attract a serial killer. I bet you that, if I use a current picture, no-one will want to date me. When I go to a bar, I’ll just meet drunks. I’m too (old, fat, bald, shy, uninteresting, unlovable) for anyone to like me “in that way.”
Let’s work with those two examples. Now, pick a topic. Allow the Evil Angel on Your Shoulder to whisper into your ear and tell you all the bad stuff that will happen if you go after what you want.
Then, give yourself three reasons the issue you’re worried about might not happen.
Stress Less Example #1:
- Your network of family and friends or a recruiter (“head hunter”) will help you get a job.
- In-person or online classes will help you learn the technology and tips for submitting applications.
- You can practice how to answer typical job interview questions, in advance, so that you feel confident when you go for an interview.
Stress Less Example #2
- Millions of people use dating sites. Very few of them are killed by serial killers
- Everyone else has a current picture, too. If they use one from their youth, people find out and block them.
- Choose a better bar … like a smoothies bar, You don’t have to go to a bar. You can go to venues where you will meet people who have the same interests you do, whether that is sports, photography, dining out, raising Alpacas, or whatever.
As May would say, when you do that remote viewing of yourself and your thoughts, “Notice that it immediately becomes less stressful, because you just went from “it’s going to happen” to “maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t.”
What Comes Next in This Stress Less Exercise?
Now give yourself three reasons that, even if the situation does turn out contrary to your wishes, good things will happen. Those reasons are easy to find once you open your mind to the possibilities.
Stress Less Example #1
- So, I didn’t get a job yet but know I know how to market myself better to my target employers.
- I’ve learned so much more about how to use LinkedIn and keywords to help me entice recruiters to look at my resume and call me for interviews.
- I’ve practiced my answers enough, so that, even when I’m nervous, I can remember the basics of what I want to say.
Stress Less Example #2
- Well, I’ve done some online dating, and I’m not dead yet!
- I got creative and, instead of going to bars, I joined Meetup.com and now have a bunch of new friends who enjoy the same things I love to do, like raising Alpacas!
- My self-confidence is blossoming because I am taking some classes and coaching on personal and spiritual growth.
May says, “Now you’ve gone from thinking “there’s this terrible thing that’s going to happen” to thinking “there’s this thing that may or may not happen, but if it does, it could have both good and bad outcomes.””
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try taking this approach to some specific issues that I face and see if it helps me a) calm down and b) be more constructive in my views and the actions I take toward resolving problems and c) STRESS LESS. I hope you do, too, and I’m sure that Mr. May and I both would love to have your feedback if it helped you.
Let’s Get Well, Stay Well, and Live Well Together Now!
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