There’s a lot to be stressed about these days; political unrest, economic woes, an unpredictable future. With so many concerns, is it really possible to simply change the way we think and eliminate some of our stress? Philosopher William James said, “Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” So, if changing our thoughts really can change our world where do we start? What thoughts do we change? And, how?
Most of our stress at work is self-induced
I’ve survived workdays that were so exhausting that I felt like I’d been juggling elephants all day long. I was stressed to the hilt, and the crazy thing is that most of my stress was self-induced. I was worrying about ridiculous things. My bet is that when you examine what’s stressing you at work you’ll realize much of your stress is self-inflicted, too.
Three thoughts to change
There are three thoughts rambling around in our brains that exaggerate or eliminate our stress factor dependent upon our perspective. With a few simple thought adjustments we can reduce our workday stress and get back on track toward productivity. So, what are those three annoying thoughts? Me, you, and the cosmic forces. Let’s take a closer look.
Me – I should perform well and always demonstrate my strength, skill and ability.
You – Other people should behave appropriately.
The Cosmic Forces – The universe should be in alignment.
It’s all about me
We tend to beat up on ourselves when we make mistakes. We think things like, “What was I thinking? Why did I do such a stupid thing?” Thoughts like these certainly create stress. They tend to keep us up at night, beating up on what’s left of our self confidence. The quickest cure is to turn the thought around and tell yourself this: “I made a mistake, and I certainly learned something from it. I’ll never do that again. At least I took a chance and gave it a try. I got out of my comfort zone and that’s a good thing.”
It’s all about you
We’re often perplexed by other people’s poor manners. People who play on their iPhone or Blackberry during our presentation at work, rude drivers, and grocery store line-cutters annoy us. We wonder what’s wrong with people, and why are they being so rude to us when we didn’t do a thing to deserve it. We wonder what ever happened to common courtesy. We think everyone should at least be civil.
It would be a nicer world, but it’s not going to happen. When we change our own thoughts about other people’s behavior we’ll spend less time wondering what we did to deserve their wrath. Tell yourself this, “Sometimes people are just rude. They’ve had bad training, or they’re just having a bad day. It’s not really about me, it’s about them, and their decisions and actions.”
The Cosmic Forces are uncooperative
When the universe falls out of alignment we get stressed. Missed deadlines, undelivered packages, late reports at work; they set us off. Long lines, bumper-to-bumper traffic, opportunities lost; these things are unsettling because we expect things to go well. We don’t expect things to go wrong. But that’s irrational. Things go wrong; it happens. Don’t become a pessimist, expecting everything to go wrong, because that’s bad for your health. But, be ready to change your thoughts when you find yourself dwelling on the bad circumstances. Tell yourself, “Sometimes things just don’t fall into place, but it isn’t the end of the world. As long as I’m alive and breathing, I can try something else.”
Changing your thoughts is age-old wisdom
Changing the way we think about these three thoughts will help us lower our stress at work and at home. Even Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome knew about the power of changing our thoughts. He wrote, “Everything is but what your opinion makes it; and that opinion lies within yourself. Renounce it when you will, and at once you have rounded the foreland and all is calm; a tranquil sea, a tide-less haven.”