How I Eliminate Stress

24Jan10

I have somewhat of an anxiety disorder. Its effect often leaves me stressed about the future and the past. Its presence ripples through many aspects of my life. I can’t think clearly. My emotions run high. I often mis-translate what somebody is saying (what they’re getting at), and motivation and confidence in myself weakens.

Does this happen to you? Why do we experience this? What is the source of anxiety anyway?

I think I’ve discovered what it is (at least partially).

I found myself one day in the middle of Dallas, TX. I felt a sudden impulse to stop where I stood. I looked around at all the people. I noticed their frenzied, rushed activity around me. I realized, we’re like ants, always moving from place to place, going to work, school, talking and texting on our phones, making meetings, and adding more and more things onto our to-do lists. I guess I can understand seeing as to how we’re natural creators. Because of this, we feel we must be as productive as possible.

We’ve evolved society into a lifestyle that influences us to own and do as much as possible in order to feel productive enough. Furthermore, many of the more general expectations of society pull at us every day, begging us to buy merchandise, make so much money, have those kids, impress other people, be who someone else expects you to be. Doesn’t all this going on around you make you feel stressed? It should. It did me, for years.

So I made a decision for myself. I decided to select a way of life that would eliminate all of this. It’s called the art of being present.

It’s a reinvention of everyday behavior to simplify life. It involves doing less at a time, disconnecting from digital networks, and focusing on the natural world around me. It helps me to appreciate nature, and actually notice the world as it goes by. In this way of living I can experience genuine pleasure in anything.

Since I’ve adopted this way of living, I have consciously cleaned out all redundant, unnecessary aspects of my life that I don’t critically need. I aim to have the least amount of things that I “need” to do during the day, possible. I focus on only one single task at a time, and the rest of the day I get to pay attention to my family and friends.

Under this way of living, the past has passed. Dwelling on it is redundant, dis-empowering, and unnecessary (unless I’m formulating a lesson I want to use to improve an aspect of myself). Additionally, I realize that the future does not exist. It hasn’t been created yet. There is no specific end result expected for me to meet by neither myself nor anybody else. In the present moment, I have the power to carefully and creatively craft it though. If I worry myself about the final outcome of anything, the entire time I’m creating it, I’ve hindered my ability to put all my heart and focus on the enjoyment of the actual process. As a result, I’ll fail to generate an outcome that I’m satisfied with.

On a side note – that is another idea I strongly believe is important – expectations of outcomes. Notice that, above, I didn’t say “creating [the] outcome that I [want]. People try to define a specific outcome to something, other than realizing that there are multiple outcomes that will do just fine to make them happy. I would be getting in my own way if I limited the range of satisfactory outcomes and set the bar on a level I don’t know if I can reach.

So, I focus on one task per day. When I do it, I do it slowly, completely and methodically. I don’t get on the computer at all during the day. I focus on the world around me until the day is over. When I speak to somebody, I observe their face, the look in their eyes, the tone of their voice, the subject and context of their words. I own a cell phone, but it’s pre-paid. I don’t use it unless I really need to use it. When I drive, bike, or walk, I challenge myself to put all my focus and attention on how beautiful the outside world is – the colors of the leaves, the way the breeze feels, the sounds of birds, people chattering, and the smells in the air – instead of running thoughts and worries through my head. It’s like watching a beautiful transition scene in a movie. You should try it.

How has this effected my anxiety?

Today, my anxiety is virtually non-existent. I’m happier, mentally clear, and energetic. I enjoy every day. I’m able to spend a lot of time with my daughter, teaching her about the world, being silly with her, having fun together playing with her toys, and listening to music. I don’t own a nice house, drive a nice car, make lots of money, or own lots of things, but I’ve got to say, I’m living my dream. All because I’ve slowed down to enjoy the present for what it really is.

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3 Responses to “How I Eliminate Stress”

  1. Really enjoyed this post! It’s truly something we could all do (and should). I think most people realize it, but get scared when it’s time to actually put the plan into action. Kudos to you for sticking with it!

  2. 2 oohilovehattie

    i also enjoyed this post…i saw this comment you wrote “Im sure the content is nice and all, but the theme is just bland” and it made me laugh so i decided to check out your blog. there really is no need for stress in your life…im almost care-free and i dont let things really stress more or worry me – lifes too short!! but i like your blog a lot

  3. I’m new to this site tonight, and not quite sure how I found this post of yours, but it was an enjoyable read. Looking forward to reading more on your blog. I think many people strive towards what you wrote about, but too easily get caught up in the everyday ‘rush’. It takes quite a bit of practice and focus to fully live in the moment!


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