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5 Ways to Practice Stress Free Living

5 Ways to Practice Stress Free Living

There’s a funny phenomenon that happens to me daily. It happens the moment a person stops and asks me the question, “How are you?” My reply is often one of the following, “I’m always well”, “I’m perfect”, “I couldn’t be better”, or “I can’t complain”. As quick as the words exit my mouth, I am usually hit with a whiff of skepticism from the questioner and often asked the follow-up question, “So how do you do it?” Well, here it is in 5 steps.

1. Get Rid of Stressors

If you cannot rid yourself of all your known stressors, learn to disarm them.

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Phase one: Ridding yourself of stressors. Often times our main stressors stem from the feelings we develop when we feel we need to or have to perform some task that we aren’t fully passionate about or committed to. Basically, we can’t stand unwanted responsibilities. Other times our stressors can be the people around us. Now, I am sure as you read these lines, you have already gone ahead and implanted that person or persons into this equation and that’s fine but keep the following quote in mind.

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Epictetus.

If people are the cause of your stress, then it may be time to consider creating some distance in order to develop better strategies of approaching and handling the relationship. It may also be time for you to reassess the necessity of the relationship. An important piece of advice to remember is that no task or person is worth more than your own sense of well-being. You have to be at your best in order to give your best and stress takes away all possibilities of you being able to be your best consistently and over time.

Phase two: Disarming your stressors. If you cannot rid yourself of your stressor(s), don’t panic. Learning to disarm them can be just as powerful. Disarming your stressors involves following steps 2 through 5 listed below. In short, disarming your stressor(s) happens the moment you decide to focus on personal development and work on yourself for yourself. A strong sense of self activates an impenetrable force field that only lets in what you allow!

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2. Think, Speak, Act, and Radiate Positivity

  • Think Positive and throw out everything that enters your mind that isn’t. Not giving in to negative thoughts of your own and from others requires faith, confidence, discipline, and the ability to choose the correct perceptual position at the appropriate time.
  • Speak Positive and don’t allow yourself to have or be influenced by your own negative thoughts or negative conversations, opinions or suggestions around you. Avoid negative communication and conversations as they have the tendency to effect your thinking consciously and subconsciously.
  • Act Positive (to do so successfully and consistently, your thoughts and words must align with your actions) and watch your environment and the people around you change or take notice. In order to create lasting change, you must be willing to model the change you seek. Modeling is one of the easiest ways to help others experience the benefits of a behavioral change without feeling like you’re reprimanding them.
  • Radiate Positivity because as Maryanne Williamson beautifully stated:

“When we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

3. Be Truthful

Honesty can go a long way when it comes to authenticity but it also works well as a stress reliever. If you really want to unload your burden, be truthful with yourself and others. Acceptance may be the final stage of grief but it’s the first stage of truth.

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4. Be Consistently Authentic

Being consistently authentic is being true to yourself. This is done through communicating your truth through your thoughts, speech and actions as close to you as humanly possible. It allows others to experience you for who you truly are and makes you more likely to be accepted, respected and admired thus increasing your ability to influence others positively. Being consistently authentic alleviates the often stressful and unnecessary belief that you need to live up to expectations or act differently among groups or environments, both familiar and unfamiliar. After all; it’s simpler to be yourself than it is to be someone else.

5. Be Grateful

If you allow yourself to take a more conscientious approach to how you view your life and the world around you, you will most surely be able to identify not only things you have to be grateful for but also things you do not have that you can be grateful for. When you can acknowledge the infinite amount of problems the creatures of this world face and are effected by in comparison to whatever problem or problems you have in your life, I’d hope you’d be able to find a few scenarios that not only humble you but cause you to seriously reflect upon all the things you have to be grateful for.

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Being grateful is not just being thankful for having or not having, being effected by or not being effected by. It is the ability to understand and grasp the big picture life presents to us and be thankful for our place in it. It is the ability to keep everything in perspective as it relates to humanity as one being. It is the understanding of life’s longstanding fundamentals and lessons that have been communicated and demonstrated throughout time and history. When you have everything to be grateful for, where does stress fit in?

Featured photo credit: Photo by: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Tyrone Robinson

Life, Career, Executive Coach & Business Consultant

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Last Updated on June 12, 2019

Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

Humor and laughter provide so many rewards. Studies have shown 20 seconds of laughter yield the same benefits as 3 minutes of hard rowing. A Robert Half International study reported 84% of executives believe a worker with a good sense of humor does a better job. Incorporating humor more effectively in the workplace allows you to defuse difficult situations, reduce stress, create attention for new ideas, build rapport, and be a more approachable and memorable leader.

With those benefits, it behooves you to hone your workplace comedic skills. So in the tradition of David Letterman, here are the top 10 ways to more effectively lead with humor!

#10. Look for Joy in Life

An important step is continually looking for joy throughout your life. This happens in a variety of ways:

  • Focus less on yourself and more on helping others. Need help? Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the classic by Dale Carnegie.
  • Laugh more – kids reportedly laugh 400 times per day vs. 15 times for adults. Aim for laughing 40 times daily to be at least 10% of your former self!
  • Regularly read humorous comic strips and look for quips and funny comments in your reading.
  • Even in challenging situations, hunt for something funny or humorous you can take away.

#9. Learn What Makes You Laugh

If you’re trying to laugh 40 times daily, it’s important to know what makes you laugh and have ready access to laugh-provokers. Figure out 107 things which make you laugh. Unrealistic? Hardly! Why 107? Because 107 is funnier than 100! Here’s a recipe for listing what makes you laugh by simply identifying:

  • 13 Movies
  • 11 TV Shows
  • 5 Words or Phrases
  • 19 Personal Stories
  • 5 Cartoons
  • 7 Audio or Video Pieces
  • 11 Comedians
  • 7 TV Personalities
  • 7 Funny Photos
  • 7 People You Know
  • 15 of Anything Else
  • TOTAL = 107 Funny Things

Collect & save these humor starters in a “Smile File” when you quickly need a laugh or comedic inspiration.

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#8. Use Your Own Comedic Material

Personal experiences are the most genuine humor sources for effective leadership. Look for humor in situations from your own life:

  • Funny things you have said or others have said to you
  • Pratfalls, be they mental, interpersonal, & physical
  • Embarrassing moments or unexpected happenings
  • Times of change or learning
  • Difficult life events (yes, even these can be humor sources)

When turning personal situations into comedic material, remember lessons learned from a childhood humor staple: Knock-Knock Jokes. These simple jokes work because the knock-knock structure highlights familiar situations, uses only essential words and phrases, and clearly signals a laughing opportunity. They also demonstrate how humor springs from surprise. The laughs come from not knowing who or what exactly is behind the door based on the initial response to “Who’s there?”

#7. Adapt Somebody Else’s Material

Beyond your own experiences, there’s a tradition of “borrowing & adapting” (I didn’t say stealing) funny stuff from others. That’s why old-time comedian Milton Berle was called the “Thief of Bad Gags.”

Part of borrowing successfully is using easily accessible humor sources in ways many don’t consider. Beyond simply Googling “funny” in front of quotes, one-liners, definitions, pictures, or videos, here are two other common sources you can adapt:

  • Cartoons – You can use cartoons in various ways by showing one in a presentation, telling the cartoon’s story (potentially making yourself a character) without any images, or using its punch line as a starting point for new humor.
  • Comedians – Mainstream comedians’ jokes or catch phrases are another source to modify and adapt to your personality or work situation. Watch lots of comedians and learn how professionals do it so well.

#6. Understand Your Audience

Using humor in a leadership position requires understanding boundaries on its proper use. It all starts with really understanding your audience by:

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  • Paying attention to top management’s attitudes toward humor.
  • Knowing the audience’s composition – this directly affects which humor types are appropriate.
  • Loving your audience as much or more than you poke fun at them.
  • Inviting others into humor since you can’t assume they share your same humor sensibilities.

In case you’re contemplating using ad lib humor, completely knowing your audience is even more vital. Ad-libs have the potential for going horribly wrong because audience sensibilities have been misjudged. It’s very beneficial to actually plan and rehearse ad libs. It may sound odd, but identify common work situations you encounter and think through what usually goes wrong or provides a source for potential humor. Work out some “safe” funny comebacks to use as “planned” ad libs.

#5. Know the Rules and Boundaries

There are blatant humor no-no’s in the workplace which are quite acceptable for an onstage comedian. At work, avoid harmful practical jokes or pranks, heavily sarcastic comments, and humor rooted in religious, sexual, ethnic, or racial themes. Think you know your work setting well enough to tread on this dangerous ground? Here’s some advice: DON’T. The way questionable humor will be perceived by a workplace audience is too much of an unknown to take big risks when your career is at stake.

Use this checkpoint to actually see if your intended workplace humor is SAFE. To pass the SAFE test, all of these statements need to be true regarding your joke, comment, or image:

  • I can Say/Show this to my mother.
  • It wouldn’t Anger me if I were the butt of the joke.
  • This wouldn’t trigger an FCC violation
  • Everyone in the audience will be able to get it.

With even a hint of one false answer, dramatically modify your idea or better yet, abandon it and start over.

#4. Get over Yourself

Effective leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable laughing at themselves and letting others be funny as well. Leaders should become adept at appropriately using self-deprecating humor, i.e., self-directed humor downplaying your own talents, stature, or accomplishments

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You don’t want to use self-deprecating humor on simply any topic, however. It’s most effectively & appropriately used in:

  • Situations where you’re comfortable & self-confident
  • Areas where your credibility & competence are clearly established
  • Ways that fit your known personality & sensibilities

Remember – when trying to borrow someone else’s self-deprecating humor, you need to share that person’s perspective & situation. If not, it’s simply deprecating! I once heard a decidedly non-technical Marketing VP call out “data geeks” in the audience. While that’s what they called themselves, she wasn’t a part of their group, and her comment, intended to build affiliation, fell completely flat.

#3. Need Humor Ideas? Just Look Around

The workplace is filled with situations lending themselves to comedy. Humor springs from exaggeration, wordplay, misunderstandings, ambiguity, contradictions, paradoxes, pain, and inconsistencies. If you work in any type of business or organizational setting, there are plenty of these situations to go around!

As a leader, it’s your role to use the proper opptunities to encourage and employ humor successfully by ensuring that:

  • Your humor makes others feel good about themselves.
  • Hurtful fun isn’t made of those less tenured than you in the organization.
  • You don’t use humor when agitated since it can lead to apparent meanness.

#2. Surround Yourself with Joy

If you’re looking for more joy and levity in leadership, surround yourself with joyful people. These are people who are funny, easily spur laughter, and routinely cheer people up through their presence.

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Cultivate relationships with these types of people. Spend time with them, learn from their successful uses of humor, and emulate elements of their approaches that work for you.

Beyond basking in the joy these people create, select 3 or 4 of them to be an informal comedy team. As your comedy team, solicit their opinions to help you generate and refine humor ideas. They can also provide perspectives on potentially questionable humor material that makes it through the SAFE test, but still feels like it might not be right for a workplace audience.

#1. Dive into the Fun

Ultimately, the most important part of successfully using humor as a leader is actually sharing it in the workplace. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

  • Practice your humor in appropriate, low-risk settings to find out what works before trying it out with a bigger audience.
  • Signal a laughing opportunity through your words, actions, and tone. It’s also a good practice to give people “permission” to laugh in the workplace.
  • Finally, be earnest in using humor; don’t focus on laughs so much as lightening and adding fun into work settings.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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