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Last Updated on March 17, 2020

How to Live a Stress Free Life In a Way Most People Don’t

How to Live a Stress Free Life In a Way Most People Don’t

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.

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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. Try these tips: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying

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?

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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.

Here’re 11 Signs That You Should Leave Your Job.

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 the 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?

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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.

Some good advice for you here: How to Let Go of Resentment and Anger

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.

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.

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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!

Final Thoughts

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.

More About Living a Fulfilling Life

Featured photo credit: Drew Coffman via unsplash.com

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Emma Churchman

Emma is a Creative Business Consultant, and Leadership Coach & Trainer

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

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This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

5. Embrace Your Inner Weirdo

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward.

Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

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7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

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“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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