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Sometimes we may feel stressed or even depressed in life. Things can go wrong and not go as expected. While there may be other causes for such situations, I believe one important cause is unrealistic expectations.
Either they come from ourselves or from other people, unrealistic expectations cause us to ride mental roller-coaster. When we succeed, we will feel very happy or even ecstatic. But when we fail, we will feel very disappointed. Our mental condition goes up and down like a roller-coaster.
We need to avoid that, of course. Here are some tips on how to do it so that you can minimize stress and be content with our life:
1. Focus on actions rather than results
Focusing on results is a sure way to experience the ups and downs of emotional roller coaster. Even worse, there is not much you can do about it since you can’t control the results. So you should focus on something you can control instead, and one thing you can certainly control is your actions.
Instead of worrying about results, spend your time thinking about what to do and how to do it. The role of results is to give you feedback to refine your actions, but no more than that. Look at the results, get feedback to refine your actions, and then focus on the actions.
2. Have fun; don’t take things too seriously
We often take things too seriously to the point of being obsessed with them. Don’t do this. Instead, make everything you do fun. Having fun will certainly makes you less stressed while at the same time make the journey much more pleasant. One way to do so is by seeing things as games; something which are fun to do despite some winnings and loses. Another way to do it is by looking for hidden pleasures in whatever you do.
3. Don’t compare yourself with others
A study shows that we care more about how much money we have relative to everyone else than we do about how much money we have. It shows our tendency to compare ourselves with others.
But, similar to #1, you should look at others only to get feedback on how to do things better. Beyond that, comparing yourself with others will only do two things:
- Make you down, if you are worse than them.
- Boost your ego, if you are better than them. But this will only make the next failure more painful.
So learn something from others, set your goals, and refine your actions. Beyond that, don’t compare yourself with others.
4. Focus on being what you love rather than being loved
One reason why we feel stressed is we are worrying too much about what other people say about us. We are busy trying to meet other people’s expectations that we may end up living someone else’s life. Don’t focus on being loved; life is too short to be spent living someone else’s life. Instead, focus on being what you love. Cultivate your passions and do what really matters to you.
5. Cultivate abundance mentality
Scarcity mentality says that there is only limited amount of resources available so that other people’s gain is your loss. Having this mentality will make you stressed, especially when your peers become more successful than you. So, cultivate abundance mentality instead. Abundance mentality says that there is enough resources for everyone; someone else’s gain is not your loss. There is enough for everyone to prosper.
6. Make failure your friend
Failure is normal part of successful life. In fact, it is a friend of successful people. I love this quote by Thomas J. Watson:
Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.
The more failure you make, the more likely it is that you will be successful. Make failure your friend, and it will be much easier for you to go through each one. Seeing things as games (see #2) is one way to make yourself comfortable with failure.
7. Look back and not just look ahead
Seeing how far we are from our goals may make us stressed, especially if our mind is occupied with it. So you need to also look back and see how far you have walked. What achievements have you got? What are your success stories? Remembering these will make you feel grateful for your current position in life.
8. Cultivate your enthusiasm
Enthusiasm makes you excited about life. It makes you excited about where you are now no matter how difficult the situation might seem. It energizes you to always do your best.
In fact, the ability to maintain enthusiasm despite failures and difficulties is an essential trait of successful people. As Winston Churchill said,
Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.