As I mentioned in my last post, stress can affect you mentally and physically. There are ways to alleviate it by changing your routine physically, but a big part of lessening stress is how your mind reacts to different situations.
We’ve all heard the clichés of don’t sweat the small stuff and turn lemons into lemonade. While they’re all very true and are good rules to abide by, I’ve learned some of my own.
During the economic downturn, the advertising industry was one of the fields that took a serious hit. My business was no different and it slowed dramatically. While it gave me time to write a book, it also taught me some lessons on how to deal with very stressful times. While I wish I would have never experienced such a difficult period, they did provide some lessons.
You Can’t Change Anything Until Morning
I can’t tell you how many nights I used to lie in bed and think about what would happen the next day. How would my presentation go? Would I get a call from any potential new business? I would lose out on sleep, which made it even harder to focus the next day. What happened 90% of the time was that it turned out to be positive. Even in times where I thought bad news was inevitable, it ended up being fine. I lost all that sleep and it didn’t make a difference. It made me realize that if I couldn’t do anything about it until the next day, I wasn’t going to worry about it until then.
Bad News Can Be Good News
During the downtown, I had many negative things happen. If I took away one lesson, it’s that just when you think the worst happened, it actually turned out for the better. And sometimes when you think the best thing just happened, it ends up being bad.
For example, one day I received a call to find out there was a kitchen fire in one of my rental properties. I thought to myself, Why me?! I had enough problems to worry about, and it just added to my pile of bad news. What eventually happened was that I got the insurance money to renovate the kitchen to make it even nicer. What I thought was bad news ended up being good.
Another example is that one of my employees left and I thought it was the worst thing that could have happened. How was I going to find someone who was as good as this person? Then I found someone who was even better, and I soon realized that I was lucky that the first person left.
These examples taught me to never get too far up or down emotionally. This is why I never get too excited or depressed when something occurs. Because, you never know in the long-term if it’s going to turn out good or bad. Just go through life with a positive attitude and keep smiling regardless of what hurdle you come across.
Wish for the Best
How many times have you fretted about something that you were unsure about? For example, if a friend came to you saying they’re dating someone and you’re unsure if this is the best person for them. You have no idea how this person will treat them in the long run, so don’t get worked up about it. Instead of thinking if it could be good or bad, just wish them the best.
Another example is when rooting for sports. When your favorite team loses, you think it’s the worst news. What you don’t realize is that your record will be worse, and you’ll get a better draft pick the next year. This higher draft pick could be a future Hall of Famer and could be the key to winning a championship. You would have never received it if it wasn’t for your team losing that one game the previous year. If you’re stressing about if your team is going to win the next game, just wish for the best and you don’t have to worry about it one way or another.
Don’t Be Afraid of Storms
When I was in college, I joined the sailing club so that I could learn how to sail. While it taught me a valuable skill to last a lifetime, I also learned a valuable expression that relates to dealing with life.
I’m not sure of the exact wording or origin, but it basically says that you can never become a better sailor until you’ve experienced a storm. This means that you can be a good navigator when the weather is calm, but the true test is when it gets stormy. When conditions are perfect, it’s easy to go fast and turn on a dime, but can you do it during a storm? You can only get better by navigating through the toughest of settings. The tougher the storm, the better you become. The same can be said about life. You can go through life if it’s smooth sailing, but if life throws you a curve and you don’t know how to react, you won’t be able handle it as well. Once you experience some stormy times, it teaches you how to handle challenging situations. That said, don’t be upset over bad news or challenges. Just learn from it so that you’ll be better prepared the next time it happens.
Give Yourself Advice
For many years, I worked for myself and it was difficult getting advice. I didn’t have a mentor, so if I wanted guidance, I had to provide it myself. The way I solved this problem was that if someone came to me with the same question, what advice would I give them? For example, if I didn’t know how to respond to an employee showing up late for work, I would ask myself, if a friend came to me asking how they should handle their employee showing up late, how would I answer them? So, instead of getting stressed about not knowing the answers, I would just give myself advice and it usually turned out correct.
Tune Out the Bad
Tune out what is making you mad. If you get upset watching the news, don’t turn on the news. Find another source of happiness. With all of the bad news lately, I’ve been turning on shows or movies that make me happy. When the US entered the Iraq War in 2004, I needed something to cheer me up, so I went to a comedy movie in the theaters with a girl that I just met. (The movie was Old School and I rarely, if ever, took out a girl to a movie on a first date) The relationship didn’t last but we both spent the night laughing and forgetting about the negative. This doesn’t mean tune out life, it just means take a break from it so you’re not stressed.
If you’re looking for a book that can provide an approach of how to go through life, I highly recommend reading, The Greatest Salesman in the World. It may help with your career, but more importantly, it will give you an attitude adjustment in life. It was written over fifty years ago, but the advice is timeless. It’s one of the books that made the biggest impact in my life.
Please be stress-free during this holiday. Be thankful for what you have instead of worrying about what you don’t have. Also know that there’s a lot more positives in the world than negatives. Most importantly, remember the holidays can be enjoyed more with a warmer heart.