I recently decided to do an experiment with myself: I made a conscious effort to eliminate the word “stress” from my inner and outer speech and to witness the effect on my mood. To my delight, I found that when I normally would have said, “I’m so stressed” I instead said, “I’m happy being busy” I almost magically felt uplifted and energized. On super busy days, I enjoyed an instant energy burst by adding, “The more
I do the more energetic I feel” to my self-talk. Although the effect feels like magic, it’s simply a matter of knowing that we create our mood by whatever we’re telling ourselves is our reality. And it happens instantly.
Were your grandparents “stressed out”?
My grandparents certainly had a lot more stress in their lives than I (two World Wars, the Great Depression, immigrating alone from foreign lands with little or no money, lack of modern medicine), but I can’t remember them ever complaining of being “stressed.” Think back…how often did your grandparents say they were “stressed”?
Before 1950, the word “stress” was a term used only in physics to describe one force pushing against another. At some point, it started being used to describe an emotional state and quickly caught on as a “go to” word to describe everyday events.
I’m wondering if one of the reasons people today are feeling so stressed is because they are labeling themselves as such.
Happiness is Only a Few Words Away
Try substituting “stress” with words such as “busy” or “fulfilled” in your inner and outer speech and enjoy the immediate positive effects. Here are some thoughts to substitute:
“I’m super busy today and I love being busy!”
“My day is filled with activities that I enjoy.”
“Today, I have many opportunities to feel useful.”
“I’m so grateful to have (kids, work, chores) that give my life meaning and purpose.”
“I do what I love and I love what I do.” (thank you for this affirmation, Dr. Wayne Dyer!)
The Stress of the Marching Soldiers
I recently read of an experiment lead by psychologist Shlomo Breznitz at Hebrew
University, Jerusalem. Dr. Breznitz had groups of Israeli soldiers march 40 kilometers
(about 25 miles), but gave each group different information. He had some groups
march 30 kilometers (after they thought they had already marched 40), and then told
them they had another 10 to go. He told others they were going to march 60 kilometers,
but in reality only marched them 40. At the end of the study, Breznitz found that the stress hormone levels in the soldiers’ blood always reflected their estimates and not the
actual distance they had marched! In other words, their bodies responded not to reality,
but to what they were imaging as reality.
Is your Today’s March long or short? Uphill or downhill? Stressful or inspiring? It all
depends on what you say and imagine it is!