Stressed out? Five tips for peace of mind

Is this typical? You’ve got car bills, doctor’s bills and rent to pay. Your boss wants more results, your brother-in-law wants you to help shift house and your twelve-year-old wants a tattoo.

Everyone wants your time and money. And your mother won’t quit telling you that you married an idiot. “Find peace of mind”, you say, “with MY problems and MY family?”. Well, there’s hope. Follow these steps below to reduce the stress in your life and prioritise what really matters.

1. Do What Is Most Important

Make a to-do list each day. You’ll achieve more. Then prioritise your list. Do the most important things first. When you fix what matters most every day, you feel better every day.

2. Get into Nature

Sandy beaches and peaceful forests restore you in ways that stinky pubs and shopping malls and bad TV never can. Walk in the bush, sit in a garden, grow tomatoes. You’ll think better thoughts. There’s nothing to figure out, it just happens.

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3. Quit Comparing Yourself

The books say, “Raise your self-esteem!” But here’s the problem: you try to raise your self-esteem by comparing yourself with other people. You tell yourself:

• “I’m okay because I’m thinner than her.”

• “I’m okay because I got a promotion, won a trophy, drive an Audi.”

• “I’m okay because I’ve got a thousand friends on Facebook.”

But there will always be people who are richer, trendier or cleverer than you are — so you never win. Instead, just aim to be a better you. Set goals to be happier, healthier or more skilled, and refuse to compare yourself. You have your own journey. Life doesn’t have to be a competition.

4. Don’t Try to Change People

Trying to change other people is too stressful! Whenever you try to force people to be happy, healthy, motivated, spiritual or intelligent, you get frustrated and they hate you.

EXAMPLE: Mary marries Fred. Mary says, “Now, if I can just make him quit smoking, quit drinking and quit thumping traffic cops, I’ll be happy.” It doesn’t work.

Positive change is a natural process. Often it unfolds like this:

Step 1: stupidity, followed by

Step 2: disaster

Step 3: desperation, and finally

Step 4: wisdom.

We need each step. When you force change upon others, you disrupt the process.

You say, “But it’s painful to watch other people being stupid!” Right! But when you force them to change, they don’t learn.

Note — Parents and policemen sometimes need to force people! Most other times, we best let others make their own mistakes.

5. Make Gratitude a Habit

So your life isn’t perfect. Maybe you have colleagues who do less than they could, a husband who does less than he should and children who could be more considerate. You say, “How can I be grateful?”

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Try this. As you go to sleep each night, find one more thing to be grateful for. You’ll enjoy greater peace of mind. Why? Because you can’t be grateful and stressed at the same time. If there is one key to peace of mind, it’s gratitude. Happy people focus on what they have. Unhappy people focus on what’s missing.