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Live a Stress-Free Life In a Way Most People Don’t Know

Live a Stress-Free Life In a Way Most People Don’t Know

What does it look like to eliminate stress in your life? No, it doesn’t look like a made-for-television movie. No, it doesn’t look like something only people with extra time and money can do. It looks like your life — but without any self-created stress triggers. To live stress-free consider saying no to the following:

1. Stop overanalyzing situations that haven’t even happened yet.

It’s easy to spend time in the world of worst-case scenarios. People tend to cultivate this world for one of two reasons. First, because if you know what the worst-case scenario is, then it won’t surprise you when it happens. Second, if you know what the worst-case scenario is, then you can do everything in your power to control the universe so the worst case never happens. If that’s really the world you want to cultivate, then become a professional risk assessor. If not, then ask yourself how you are benefiting from continuing to live that way. Does it make you feel better about yourself and your life? Does it make you want to leap out of bed in the morning eager to embrace the worst-case scenario? Does it bring you joy or fulfillment? If your answer to these three questions is no, then stop it!

2. Stop taking on other people’s problems.

The whole advantage of other people having problems is that they aren’t your problems. When you frequently take on other people’s problems, you get into the habit of enabling. Let’s get crystal clear about the definition of enabling: enabling is the art of continuing to take responsibility for other people, thereby disallowing their personal responsibility. Some people develop addiction to drugs, alcohol or food. Others choose the seemingly kinder, gentler addiction of enabling. It is of no service to other people to take on their problems because they can’t/won’t/don’t know how to fix the problem. It is of service to empower others to take responsibility for themselves and their lives, to encourage, teach and motivate others to address their own problems.

3. Stop living only in the past and the future. Get present in the moment.

Being present in the moment involves being in your body and feeling your feelings — two things that lots of folks actually don’t know how to do. Ask yourself these two questions: What does fear feel like in your body? What are you afraid of? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you probably aren’t able to be present in the moment. Being present involves vulnerability, humility and openness. Being in the past or the future involves living in your head and ignoring what’s going on in your body and emotions. The past and the future stop being so relevant and intriguing when you’re able to be in your body and feel your feelings. When you can do these two things you actually want to be in the present moment.

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4. Stop focusing on what you don’t have instead of what you have.

The easiest way to stop focusing on what you don’t have is by not watching television commercials. Marketing teaches us to focus on what we don’t have, and advertising campaigns spend millions of dollars convincing us that we must have what we don’t yet have. Can you think of a marketing campaign that teaches you to enjoy what you already have without buying something to enhance it? Odds are you can’t. In a world dictated by Super Bowl commercials and Facebook ads it takes stalwart focus to recognize what you have more so than what you don’t have. If you want less stress in your life now, get stalwart and stop letting other people dictate your focus.

5. Stop surrounding yourself with people who don’t make you happy.

Honestly, what kind of people do you really like to be around? People who get you, who see you clearly, who accept you flaws and all; people you can be yourself with; people who have shared interests? How many of those people are in your life? What characteristics do all of the other people in your life have? Why are you compromising by continuing to invest time and energy in people who don’t make you happy? Do they make you look good? Do you have a story that you have to or need to spend time with them in order to be a better person or because there is no one else to hang out with? Are you tired of me asking so many questions? Great! Because I’m tired of you spending time with people who don’t make you happy.

May I suggest owning a goldfish instead?

6. Stop working at a job that you see no future with.

You don’t have to stay at a job just because it pays the bills. Most people spend more time working than sleeping. The average person spends 40 to 80 hours a week — or 2,000 to 4,000 hours a year — working. That is a significant investment! If your best friend or child told you that they were going to spend 4,000 hours giving their emotional, mental and physical energy to something (or someone) that wasn’t going to value them, give anything back to them, or pay them what they were worth what advice would you offer? Give that same advice to yourself.

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7.  Stop taking on more than you can handle.

Busyness is an addiction. Slowing down can actually be terrifying because it causes you to notice that you have feelings and causes you to actually feel them. I get it. By the time I slowed down I had decades of busyness under my belt. I went into a tailspin depression because I didn’t understand how to be in right relationship with my own emotions. When I finally figured out that feelings are just feelings, and allowing them to express themselves is healthy and natural, I stopped experiencing withdrawal from my addiction to busyness and started figuring out the pace of life that felt best for me. Remarkably, I discovered that I don’t actually like being busy. What will you discover about yourself?

8.  Stop holding on to grudges and anger.

For me, it took 20 years of adulthood to figure out that holding on to grudges and anger only hurt me. Lucky for you, though, you can benefit vicariously from my experience just by reading one short paragraph!

No one is holding your feet to the fire demanding that you hold on to grudges and anger. The energy of anger slowly eats away at your body, mind and spirit until one day you wake up more resentful than optimistic. One day people no longer want to be around you because the stink of negativity is oozing out of your pores. One day you even get tired of hearing yourself get angry. And the person, or people you are angry at, or holding grudges against, probably haven’t been affected at all. Who gets hurt the most in that process? You do.

9. Stop living too much in your past.

I know it seems like fun to compare everything in your present to your past, and to experience the present through past-colored glasses, but it actually isn’t. When you wear past-colored glasses you can’t truly experience the present for what it is. Your boyfriend or girlfriend gets compared to a list of expectations and failed relationships rather than recognized for the unique blessing they are in your life. Your boss gets compared to all the bosses who came before her. Your friends’ ability to parent gets compared to your parents’ ability to parent. People, including you, deserve to stand on their own past-free merit.

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10. Stop complaining about things that can’t be changed.

There are always going to be people elected into office whom you don’t like, taxes that you don’t want to pay, idiot drivers who refuse to move out of the left-hand lane, and a person ahead of you in the check-out line who won’t stop chatting with the clerk. The great benefit of being human is that we get to experience all of what life offers us, the good, the bad and the ugly. Dwelling on your frustration with a situation, person, place or thing that can’t be changed doesn’t do anything other than drag you down. You are the only person who is at ultimate choice to decide how to respond to that which is.

11. Stop living through other people’s lives.

Um, I’m just going to state the obvious here, because sometimes we cannot see what is right in front of our own noses (myself included). Someone else’s life is not your life. Your life is your life. Let me break that down even further. What that means is you get to live your life, and other people get to live their lives. You get to make stupid, ridiculous mistakes, take leaps of faith and stuff things inside your handbag of fear just as much as the next person. And you don’t get to judge that other person for their life choices, or manage their life for them so they don’t have to go through all of what you have gone through. Going through stuff is the whole great messy adventure of being human! Being alive and living life is terrifying and glorious and everything in between. Don’t rob someone else of being able to experience the richness of humanity. And don’t let everyone else have all of the adventure and intrigue; grab some for yourself.

12. Stop focusing only on your weaknesses instead of your attractive qualities.

True confession: I hired a pleasure coach to help me experience more pleasure in my life. Sure, some may call her a sex coach (and she is), but really what I wanted was some support with enjoying myself and my life. I just wasn’t having any fun, and I was more focused on what I thought was wrong with me than what was really right.

Every week for 12 weeks she had me look at myself in a mirror. Like, directly look. With clothes and without. This initially was like slow torture and I avoided my homework assignment as much as possible. Then something remarkable happened in week eight. I was avoiding my homework assignment by making my dog do it (he loves to look at himself in the mirror!), and lo and behold I snuck a glimpse of myself and I was awestruck by the gorgeous woman staring back at me. Give yourself the gift of seeing yourself clearly: you will be amazed by what you discover!

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An astounding thing happens when you release stress, get into relationship with your body, mind and spirit, and just be yourself without judgment. Your life literally slows down. You stop wishing for the weekend. You stop merely looking forward to special events. You begin to live in each moment and you start feeling like a human being. You just ride the wave that is life, with this feeling of contentment and joy. You move fluidly, steadily, calm and grateful. A veil is lifted, and a whole new perspective is born.

Featured photo credit: Create Commons via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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