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May the world be kind to you, and may your own thoughts be gentle upon yourself. - Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Say NO to Stress: 8 Easy and Powerful Ways - Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Less Stress - More Joy - Making Healthy Choices
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Stress is to your emotional health as junk food is to your physical health. You need a certain amount of food to sustain your life, but overeating and eating the wrong foods are unhealthy and sometimes dangerous.

As you need food to live, you also need a certain amount of emotional stimulation, but unless you choose to live alone far from the reaches of civilization, you are bombarded daily with innumerable stressors (agents, conditions, or other stimuli that cause stress). You hear the daily woes of friends and family. Your job and your daily commute are filled with agitation. Just a few minutes of the 11 o'clock news provides far more than your daily requirement of emotional stimulation.

What to do?

1. Simplify your needs: Much of our stress is due to what we believe we need to have. Actually, we need very little - food, a roof over our head, companionship. The rest is all perceived need that causes stress. As a crazy, but everyday example, we get stressed that we don't have the money to finance a relaxing vacation trip. Suppose we just relaxed every day knowing that we don't need luxuries.

2. Simplify your obligations: Practice saying "NO." No, I won't babysit your parakeet. No, I won't work a double shift Sunday. No, I won't chair the fundraising drive. There is actually almost nothing that you must do. Everything in life is a choice. Break the habit of assuming that you need to do everything you are asked to do.

3. Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen: Usually the worst isn't really so bad. For example, the worst your boss can ever do is to fire you, and if you hate your job, that would be a blessing in disguise.

4. Don't be demanding: You ask someone to do something, they don't do it, and you get upset - raising your stress level. Suppose you asked less of other people? Your stress level would go way down. For example, you want your teenagers to keep their rooms tidy. For them, a structured living space is not a priority. Ask yourself whether exerting your control is worth the high stress level that it causes you.

5. Mentally, prepare for failures: Your boss WILL be critical of your work. Your cell phone and computer WILL fail. The stock market WILL drop. There WILL be another terrorist attack or war. It is just life. If you are mentally prepared, you won't be surprised or get stressed when the inevitable happens.

6. Mind your own business: Many of us get upset - and stressed - over the actions of others that are really none of our business. The lifestyle of others is NOT our business. Whether your adult son or daughter has a job, whether they married the "wrong" partner, whether your neighbor recycles, whether the man down the street watches adult movies or his wife is having an affair - these are NOT our business. Know that there is no single way that life is "supposed" to be. Demanding that life meet our expectations is a sure fire recipe for a miserable existence. Life is a game with no rules. Have NO Expectations of life. Stay in your own business and lower your stress.

7. Be grateful for what you have: Each of us has been infinitely blessed - beginning with the gift of life. Whatever may appear to be missing or broken on any particular day, our glass is not half full, it is 99.9% full. More practically, when we feel ungrateful, we become unhappy and stressed. When we choose to feel and express our gratitude, the act of feeling and speaking our thanks creates a happiness within us. The more we express our gratitude, the more we have for which to be grateful.

8. Make YOU your top priority: Your ONLY responsibility in life is to your own happiness. Lower your stress and raise your joy by focusing on yourself. Today and every day, take time to celebrate your life - whether an hour's meditation in a quiet natural space, or a brief moment's conscious pause to breathe deeply and celebrate gratitude for your life.

19 comments:

  1. This is great...except for #8. In my opinion my responsibility is to God. Yes, we need to focus on "us". God even commands this, but we can not be selfish. If we give our lives and time to God, we WILL feel less stress!
    Just my humble opinion, and what works for me!

    Jill

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  2. Jill, as you said, it's all opinion and what works for each of us. Each of us has our personal view of the nature of God and what is expected of us.

    In my own view, God is omnipotent and doesn't NEED anything from us. His commandment is that we love Him and love each other, which includes loving ourselves. I find that it is often the most Godly who tend to forget about taking care of themselves also. Again qualifying this as personal opinion, God wants us ALL to be happy. Self-sacrifice is counter-productive, unless it also generates happiness for the one making the sacrifice.

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  3. As an example, if I have Sunday dinner with my mother every week because I feel that I am obligated to do so, I am not taking care of myself. However, if I visit my mother because it gives me a warm and happy feeling to be of service to her, then, in truth, I am putting myself first in that I will be relaxed, healthy and happy because of my service.

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  4. Jonathan,
    This is refreshing, indeed. I also liked Jill's comments and the way you see it. I see it more and more that when we have the ability to choose our who and how we want to serve others it certainly gives us more feeling of fulfillment rather then doing something out of duty. When we do something out of duty, duty, however noble, gives us a sense of doing something beyond ourselves and gives us that artificial status of sacrifice as if this would bring us closer to God and give us more points for all the things that we have done wrong. One has to volunteer only to discover that having that choice is no longer a sacrifice but a choice in which they find self fulfilment. And so, a soldier's duty to stand for his country is much more honourable when volunteered rather then extorted. What I am saying is in fact that I agree with you entirely on the point of putting yourself first.
    Thank you. Jolanta

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  5. Dear Jonathan and everybody else.
    Knowing Jonathan even as briefly as I have until now (1 week) is enough to be convinced that point 8 wasn't meant to be said in a selfish meaning. Love is always a bit selfish - if I do love somebody, everybody, it makes me feel so good. The ability and will to love and the energy for good deeds comes from Our Heavenly Father. (And I'm not a very religious person but I definately believe in UNFINITE goodness of our Creator and in FINITE goodness of human beings.) Thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving me my daily doses of happiness. Liisa

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  6. I have been following Jonathan's daily sharing and this forum for a few weeks now and have really benefited from it. I also like the links at the bottom of the dailies, which brought me here. I forward the dailies and links to friends and family and am forwarding this teaching to my sister, specifically. We all, it seems, struggle with #8 above. We do want to make a difference and care for others. But we simply cannot do that if we haven't taken care of ourselves. With my little sister I use a fire truck metaphor: If the fire truck gives and gives and gives and does not get replenished, runs out of water, it is of no use to those that need it. It cannot put out fires if it runs out of water.

    Thank you, Jonathan, for the service are providing. You may have no idea how much you are helping to make a difference for people in need of it. Appropriately, the daily for today was about grace, and I hadn't thought about how similiar that word is to the word for "thank you" in Spanish (gracias) and Italian (grazie). Yes, Latin origins there.

    I look forward to checking my mail every morning and starting my day off with a visit with Jonathan.

    -Glenn (Boulder, CO)

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  7. thank you Jonathan for posting this article. I can's express in words how it has helped me. Now a days I am living very stressful life but your article is really a refreshment. Its like a long weekend after a hectic week.

    Thanks a lot

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  8. 8. Make YOU your top priority:
    THIS IS TRUE ,...EVEN IN AN AIRPLANE THEY SAID PUT FIRST YOUR OXIGEN MASK AND THEN THE KIDS, I GUESS IF YOU ARE NOT OK HOW CAN YOU HELP OTHER.
    GOD SAID LOVE YOUR NEIGHBORS AS YOU LOVE YOURSEL.LOVE YOURSELF AND THEN CAN LOVE OTHERS.
    LUCY

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  9. I grew up in a preacher's home where loving God FIRST and loving my neighbor SECOND was always what was stressed...but never loving myself. I was an adult and long out of the home before I "heard" the AS YOURSELF part! I have had to get rid of many tapes in my head about what it means to love myself. IT IS NOT BEING SELFISH or self-centered or self-focused to love myself. How in the world can I love others if I don't love myself FIRST?! In fact, I'm not really sure I can love God very well if I don't love myself first! Loving myself is one way of letting God know that God "did good" in making me this way...and I am grateful!

    Anyway, my mother (the preacher's wife!) denied herself, self-sacrificed herself and was the epitome of martyrdom my entire life at home. I wish she had loved herself because I would have learned from her by example. We never know when we are someone else's mentor!
    Ginnie

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  10. this is so great, for being 21 years old only reading this article make me aware from things that makes me stress, why i fail and why i depress it help me a lot.

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  11. i love item number 8! it's for me!

    all my life, i have been thinking of other people first.

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  12. There are a lot of lessons to be learned in life and a lot of times I find myself confused and frustrated that's when I read your articles and I realise what the path of happiness really is.

    Thank-you, you truly make difference.
    Shriya

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  13. Jonathan
    It has been nice reaching this site and am grateful for the daily quotes I receive from you. Since I signed up (two weeks ago), my life has been changed and I find more peace and happiness within me. I have always shared these quotes with my friends through face book and they have been inspired too.
    Thank you for the inspiration quotes.

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  14. Dear Jonathan,

    Thank you alot for your article. I hope this can help him as much as possible. My fiance is extremely stressful about his work, life, family, vacation....

    He is self-employed as a lawyer, and he seems get stressful once the economy is in crisis. And he has to think about paying bills, taxes,...everything which causes him more stressful. I also say n comfort him, he feels ok but then it is back to stress again.

    I will send this to him, and hope he will be fine. Meanwhile, I would like to have more advices about how to make him think more positively.

    Thanks,
    Ann

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  15. Ann,

    Please see more of my articles on Having a Positive Attitude at
    http://www.dreamthisday.com/motivational-inspirational-articles/

    ReplyDelete
  16. It is very educating, think it can help some of us manage stress

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  17. Thanks! I needed this...

    Tisha

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  18. i am emotionally distressed. being a person who love like there's nothing else but to love and that's all there is. i love someone. never loved before this way. but it will never be a reality. i can never have have or the fact that he is never mine. he belongs to someone. he is married. he is the one who makes me feel a person. he is my life and my world. i should let it go for my peace of mind. but i can't. it is indeed stressful. he knew how i am to him and he in his honesty makes me feel good. i can't forget him. he is always in my mind. i wish i can let it go but it will not stop me how i feel for him. so help me god. and thanks for your daily inspirational advice.

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  19. Hello All!
    I agree with anonymous, Grazie Jonathan, for inspiring me every day! This was especially helpful to me today! I am 53 years old & first generation Italian. So I grew up feeling guilty for almost everything, I am constantly stressed, & always trying to please everyone! A few months ago, my dear cousin passed away, she was my sister, my friend, my confidant. The day after her funeral, I found yourwebsite, & I really believe it was her who helped me find it. My family is not the easiest family to please, as are many others, however, I decided to break away from the negativity & guilt! I'm trying & your daily quotes inspire me so much! I am trying to lesson my stress level each day at a time! Really, I can't say day by day. I don't remember where I heard this, however, it may help someone else also! Inch by inch, life's a cinch, yard by yard it's way to hard! I am printing this & all of todays quotes so when I start stressing again, which I know I will for a while, I can read it over & over. I print everything & keep in a binder, however, this will be with me at all times. I have never put myself first, it's going to be difficult. & I'm sure some of my family members will have something to say when they see me act calmly & less stressful, I just have to learn to listen & let it go! Life shouldn't be this hard!! I thank you again & again Jonathan for helping me become a better person!

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