Would you like to live your life with less stress and greater joy? I certainly would. Over the years of being a hypnotherapist, I have seen how much of an impact stress has on people’s lives and I’ve experienced some really great light bulb moments along the way. I have collected lots of evidence from watching clients progress, along with those who did not. Throughout that process I have learned a great deal about stress, and have found that it is not what most of us have come to believe it is.
People spend a lot of time trying to change things outside of themselves, believing that holds the key to their happiness or joy. They may say things like: “If my husband or wife would only do this differently, then I’d be happy”, or; “If my boss would stop doing that, then I’d be happy”, or maybe; “If I had a particular kind of house or a certain amount of money in the bank, then I’d be happy.” As long as people hold those particular beliefs, when they don’t have those things that they think they need to be happy, they become agitated and feel ‘stressed’. Their thoughts about not being as successful as they’d like, not having the quality relationships they feel they deserve, or whatever else they believe should be different – these things create stress in the body. The physical reaction to those kinds of thoughts; that is actually what I have identified as stress.
So what I have seen, then, is that there are three layers to stress. First, is what actually happens in the physical body. Second, are the thoughts that create stress in the body. Third, and the layer that is furthest removed from us, is the external event – whatever that may be. People tend to think that the external event causes them to feel ‘stressed’, but it is not. It is not their husband, wife, boss or house that they live in that causes them to feel stress or joy. Their thoughts about those things cause stress. I am sure you have heard the saying “We are our own worst enemy”. Creating stress in your mind will effect your physical body; that saying is true.
Really stop and consider that concept for a moment. Now take a look at the following quote I chose, byKahlil Gibran from Sand and Foam, to help you better understand how to increase joy and decrease stress in your life: “I have learned silence from the talkative; tolerance from the intolerant and kindness from the unkind. I should not be ungrateful to those teachers.” I came across this quote recently, and felt it was dead-on to what I have learned in my own life and what I teach. This concept is the most profound and moving of lessons I have learned in my whole life.
If you look at what I just said about stress (that people‘s tendencies are to look at something external), then when you encounter a person who is talkative, you may think: “Golly, would that person just be quiet? What is wrong with that person?” Your thoughts about that person create agitation in your body, if you believe they are wrong. Even though your belief is causing stress in your body, you want to blame the person you think is too talkative. Who defines how much someone should talk? We each may have our own opinion and perception or preference of how talkative someone should be. But some people try to impose their view or preference on others, and then ‘get stressed’ because of it. It is rather humorous when you step back and look at it.
What is really causing the agitation in my example above? It is not the talkative person who is really irritating you or causing you stress; it’s your thoughts and beliefs that you are trying to impose on that person. When you really remove yourself and look at the example now, you may think: “Holy cow! Who do I think I am?” There are billions of people on the planet, and each may have a different opinion of how talkative someone should be. For you to be agitated or stressed with those who talk more or less than you think is silly. But even more important is the affect that is had on every cell in your body, your health and well being, those around you, and your family at home, because you carry that with you. You will affect everyone you come in contact with, and may even be rude to that person whom you believe to be too talkative.
The same goes with intolerance. You may look at someone you perceive to be intolerant and base it on your own gauge or definition of how tolerant a person should be. What level is acceptable? If someone varies from your predetermined belief, then you might think they are wrong and you are right. It’s really the ego within all of us that is out of control and thinks that way. So again, do the three layer test with someone you view as intolerant. Notice if it is your judgment or your gauge about how tolerant you believe a person should be that is causing you stress, that you are imposing on them. Don’t let your ego mislead you into thinking one-dimentional.
Now as you go through life, you may come across someone you believe to be unkind. When that happens, remember that it’s based on your definition of what being kind or unkind looks like. I am not saying that all of your definitions fall outside of a socially acceptable normal. Most likely your definitions of how talkative, tolerant or kind someone should be, probably fit within degrees of a social norm. We, as people in society, learn a lot of our beliefs about others from what society accepts as ‘normal’. It doesn’t mean it is right or that we should impose our will or judge others who fall outside of those norms. We all vary to some degree in all of these areas, and would still like to be respected by others and not judged. We are all unique and have different combinations or variations of characteristics and traits, values and ways we act in life. So why do we allow our thoughts about others to rob our joy, and cause us stress?
You need to learn to look at stress differently than you have been. It can really help you release a tremendous amount of pressure, and instantly experience greater joy in your life. You can have more and more joy every single day when you start applying this concept. But there is work to do – it doesn’t just happen. You have to remind yourself of this every time you come across someone you view as too talkative, too unkind, or too intolerant. Work through it. Get into a mindset of: “There I go again.” Thinking in your head: “Look at how I was about to judge that person.” Those choices can affect the next five minutes, five hours, five days, five years, or (sadly) even fifty years of your life. You don’t have to keep riding that roller coaster. You can choose to be free of that programming or way of reacting to your thoughts about what people do or don’t do. You cannot control other people, but you can control your thoughts. What you choose to think determines the level of stress or joy you experience.
So first you need to be aware that this is going on. Second, you need to deliberately break the cycle and say: “Okay, it is quite ridiculous and insane that I’ve been doing this and I actually have control over how much stress and joy I experience in my life and body.”. Then you can go one step further and completely turn it around. You can actually find gratitude when you come across these folks that used to really ‘bother’ you. I know it may sound foreign, but hopefully you are following my thought process here. You can go from being stressed out because of other people’s choices, and turn yourself completely around to experience feeling gratitude from them by viewing them as teachers. It’s true – you can do it. This level of enlightenment is one of the most profound lessons I have learned. I am not saying I have perfected it, but I am very aware of it and work at it every day. It can really help you increase joy in your life, and decrease stress.
As I look back at the beginning of the quote, (I have learned silence from the talkative), I understand that I can pause in the moment when someone’s talking disturbs me, and say: “Okay, that’s how that person is and it is stirring up something in me, which tells me that my preference is a little different. Let me look at my preference…I like to talk this much or not that much, or be quieter in these situations. Am I going to let my thoughts about that difference cause me stress?” An example like this could apply to each one of us, with no one person being right or wrong. It is how you think and allow yourself to react that brings you either joy or stress, no matter how talkative someone may be.
You’ve learned the level of silence you prefer by being around those that are talkative. You have also learned the level of tolerance you prefer by being around those you believe to be intolerant. Your level of kindness is what you learned from your experiences with people who were supposedly unkind. They are your preferences, and being around different people helps you see where your gauge is set. People are free to choose, just as you are free to do. You are free to become stressed when people act differently than you would prefer, or a situation arises that you do not like. You are also free to not react out of stress. React differently. Set your mind apart during heightened situations and realize you will always have a choice to make. Choose joy.
You can, right now, start being grateful for all of those teachers or people you previously viewed as too talkative, intolerant or unkind. That is to say, instead of being stressed and agitated when you are in the presence of people like that, you can choose to feel gratitude and joy. What a tremendous turnaround! You can do this!
This is such a huge life lesson to learn and apply, and I sincerely hope you get started today. If you would like more information or help, please contact me. This truly will bring you so much less stress and greater joy. Every. Single. Day. I wish you much success with this. InJoy your day!