“Some people think it’s holding that makes one strong – sometimes it’s letting go.” ~Unknown
The human mind loves to find things to stress about.
There seems to constantly be something in our lives that causes us to worry. And when the thing that caused the worry disappears, we feel happy, but only for a short period of time until we find something else to stress about.
I’ve witnessed this pattern many times in my own life. As soon as I was able to solve one of my problems, my mind found me a new one.
Compared to other guys, my body is very skinny. It has been that way since I was a little kid. My friends used to tease me because of it. I laughed at their jokes, but inside I always felt horrible.
I felt like there was something wrong with me because I was different.
As I got older I started going to the gym so I could gain weight. Progress was slow since my body naturally leans towards the skinnier side. But slowly I began seeing results in the size of my muscles.
This is, however, where the results ended. I didn’t really get happier with my body at all, which was the main purpose of the training anyways.
I still felt skinny and there was always something in my body that wasn’t quite right yet.
At that point I realized that I was participating in a game that I couldn’t win. My body wasn’t the problem. The problem was what my mind was telling me about my body.
In essence, as long as you are identified and run by your mind, it will come up with “problems” for you to focus on.
Every single time a dilemma is solved, you can be sure of a new one arising that feels equally stressing as the previous one.
The good news is that there is a way to break free from this endless loop of stress. It starts by realizing how pointless and harmful this useless worry actually is.
Once you become aware of the negativity that these thought patterns create, it will be much easier to let go of your “problems” once and for all.
Here is a list of common stressors that are completely unnecessary to carry along with you. The simple act of becoming aware of them is a great start to becoming free of stress.
Stressor #1: The Time
When we look at a clock, we don’t just see hands pointing to different numbers. We can also see our minds beginning to formulate some meaning relating to the time on the clock.
My typical mind chatter used to go something like this: “Oh wow, its 2PM already. By this time I should have gotten all my work done. I should have woken up earlier, like I said I would last night. I can never keep a promise to myself, can I? Why do I always fail in what I do?”
As you can see, if you let your mind run the show, it will devise some horrible story behind something as meaningless as the time of day.
There is another way. You could just acknowledge that it’s 2PM, and give no meaning to it. Realize that every moment offers a fresh start.
Stressor #2: Other People’s Opinions of You
Could there be anything more pointless than to stress about what other people think of you?
First of all, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of you. Some will like you, and others won’t. There is nothing you can do about it.
Secondly, it’s not even any of your business what anyone else thinks of you. They are 100% entitled to their own opinions.
Thirdly, there isn’t even any sure way of knowing what anyone else truly thinks of you. We would have to be able to read others’ minds to get the completely accurate view.
It is basically insane to waste energy stressing about what anyone thinks of you since you cannot control it.
Stressor #3: Being Successful
In your so-called unsuccessful state, do you find yourself envying the people who are successful? Do you think that when you reach this elusive state of success, you will finally be fulfilled and happy?
We have so many assumptions of what our life would look like when we reach success. But we base these assumptions on zero proof, since we haven’t experienced it yet.
Would the world stop turning if you didn’t end up being a success? Most certainly not.
Would you be letting people down if you didn’t become successful? Probably not, since they are busy worrying about themselves anyways.
Can success even be measured?
I say its time to stop worrying about success, and just begin doing what you love to do. I’m doing what I love as I’m writing this post about living a better life.
To this point I haven’t heard of a better measure of success than how happy you are in the present moment.
Stressor #4: Your Age
We cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary pain by our mental labels relating to our own age.
We have a picture in our minds of what our life should look like at a certain age. This picture is largely there because society has forced it onto us from an early age. But we can’t just blame society. We also played a role in accepting this to be the truth for us.
We don’t need to compare ourselves to others of the same age as we are. If we stopped comparing ourselves to others in our age group, there is no doubt we would be happier with being ourselves and more at peace with our present conditions.
Age is just numbers anyway. The eternal part of us is ageless, which means that it never gets old. Relate to that part of yourself, instead of giving numbers the power to affect your mood.
Stressor #5: What Is
Byron Katie says, “When I argue with reality, I lose, but only 100% of the time.”
This is the perfect quote to lead us into the most harmful stressor of them all: resisting what is in the present moment.
Many of us are so accustomed to fighting the external environment of the moment that we don’t even realize that it’s optional to do so. Or even that it’s completely useless.
It is this resistance of what is that leads to most, or even all, of the unnecessary suffering that we’re so accustomed to experiencing.
I used to be a great resistor of my life situation. I thought that resisting and fighting it would eventually lead me to happiness, but it didn’t. The resistance only fed itself and led me deeper into more resistance, and thus more suffering.
It’s not until I began becoming friends with the present moment that I began to experience peace.
Photo by Mariyath