One of my pet peeves is seeing someone dismiss somebody else’s success by saying, “They were just lucky.” That’s nothing more than ignorance, nonsense and jealousy speaking, because in 99 cases out of 100, they’re wrong. Dead wrong.
One of the major differences between winners and losers is not whether they are lucky or unlucky. It’s whether or not they’re stress masters or stress slaves. Winners take control of their stress while losers let stress control them.
In last week’s Tuesday Tip, I gave you 4 of 15 great ways to bust your stress habits. Let’s continue.
►5. Train yourself to delay gratification.
Losers deal with their stress by doing something … anything … right now … just because it takes away the stress … and feels good.
By contrast, winners experience the same stress but they take a moment to think about what would be the best thing to do in the long run and do that.
Perhaps you remember the classic Marshmallow Experiment in 1972. Researchers placed a marshmallow in front of a young child with the promise of a second marshmallow if he or she could refrain from eating the squishy blob while a researcher stepped out of the room for 15 minutes.
Follow-up studies over the next 40 years found that the children who were able to resist the temptation to eat the marshmallow grew up to be people with better social skills, higher test scores, and lower incidence of substance abuse. They also turned out to be less obese and better able to deal with stress.
So what can you do to train yourself to delay gratification? How can you improve your ability to delay things like eating junk food when healthy alternatives aren’t available? Or how can you convince yourself to stay on the treadmill when you’d rather quit?
The answer is found in starting small. When it comes to your health, it may be choosing one thing to improve a little bit every day. Such as eating a piece of fruit on the way to work instead of a Pop Tart. When it comes to managing your time, it may be committing yourself to not put off things that take less than two minutes to do. Such as washing the dishes after a meal. You simply do it whether or not you feel like it.
This 5th key to busting your stress … in other words … learn to delay gratification … is start small and be consistent. As writer James Clear points out,
“Top performers in every field–athletes, musicians, CEOs, artists–they are all more consistent than their peers. They show up and deliver day after day while everyone else gets bogged down with the urgencies of daily life and fights a constant battle between procrastination and motivation.”
Where can you practice and perfect your own ability to delay gratification? Find one, two, or three things and start practicing now.
In fact, those people who learn to delay gratification and set goals are known to achieve two, three, four times as much as the person who does not do these things. So that’s why I recommend our GPS (Goal, Plan, Start) System that is being offered until the end of the year at more than a 80% discount. Click here to learn more.
For hundreds and thousands of years, people have admonished us to pray. Our religious leaders, parents, friends, and even Presidents.
By contrast, the battle cry of the last few years has been FOLLOW THE SCIENCE. Well, tons of scientific research now shows that daily prayer reduces stress, boosts positive energy, and promotes health, vitality, and longevity.
When you are faced with the urge to complain or you are feeling stressed to the max, stop, be still, plug-in to the ultimate power, and recharge. Better yet, make prayer a part of your daily routine to be at your best and keep stress from getting you down.
So how should you do that? Just find what works for you.
Personally, I’ve found it helpful to use the ACTS acronym. It reminds me to put four things into my prayers. A = Adoration where I express my love to God. C = Confession where I admit where I’ve been wrong and screwed things up. T =Thanksgiving where I list a host of things for which I’m thankful. And S = Supplication where I ask for what I need for myself and all the other people and situations in my life.
If you’re not a person who engages in regular prayer, it may take a little practice and experimentation. But you will find a pattern that fits you well. And if it still seems a bit unclear, ask a person who is really good at prayer how he or she does it. I guarantee they’ll be glad to share what they’ve learned with you.
How could you use prayer to improve your life and reduce your stress?
►7. Do something kind for someone every day.
As human beings, we’re naturally selfish. We think about ourselves and what we want all the time. So it’s no wonder that our culture has come up with such phrases as “It’s all about me” or “The Me Generation.”
It may be natural, but it’s not healthy. One of the best ways to bust your stress is to STOP thinking about yourself for a while and help someone else.
Dr. Karl Menninger, one of the most distinguished psychiatrists of all time, addressed that issue when someone asked him what advice he would have for someone who was about to have a nervous breakdown. His response was: “Go out and help somebody because you’ll almost always get healthy.”
In other words, when you take the focus off yourself and your problems, when you help somebody else, you realize you’re not powerless. You can make a difference. And that realization makes you healthy and busts up your stress.
So challenge yourself to do something kind for someone every day. It’s good for you and good for the other person.
Music composer William Lamartine Thompson put that sentiment into a song. It asks some wonderful questions that would be good for all of us to ask ourselves.
“Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today, because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?”
I know that we’re all busy. You may even think you don’t have any time to add anything else to your schedule, like showing some extra kindness to others. But I would leave you with this Christmas thought: “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.”
Stay tuned for next week’s Tuesday Tip when I share more of the 15 great ways to bust your stress habits.