George Carlin, the comedian, shared a brilliant insight into all the stress we’re experiencing. As he put it, “When someone is impatient and says, ‘I haven’t got all day,’ I always wonder, ‘What hours are you missing? How can you not have all day?'”
We all get the same 24 hours every day. But only a few emotionally intelligent people get to live those hours to the fullest. The rest of the people, whose plates may be just as full, live those hours under the ever-gnawing presence of stress and eventually burnout.
What should you do?
1. Don’t jump to conclusions.
In fact, your premature conclusions can really stress you out … like they did for one lady on a boiling hot August afternoon in Arizona. True story.
As a security guard was walking around the parking lot, he was stunned to see a driver in a parked car, with the engine off, and all the windows rolled up. Concerned, the guard walked to the car and noticed the middle-aged woman with her fingers laced against the back of her skull, her face wincing in pain. “Ma’am,” the guard asked, tapping on the window, “Are you alright?“
Holding her hands tightly against her head, the woman answered without turning her neck, “No, I’ve been shot!“
Instantly the guard pulled on the door handle but it was locked. He asked the woman to open the door, saying, “I’m a security guard. It’s okay. Let me in.” The woman replied, “I can’t move my hands. My brains are leaking out, and I’ve got to hold them in.”
Desperate to help, the guard forced the door open and discovered a trail of sticky bread dough dripping down the driver’s neck. A quick search revealed the woman had left a bag of groceries in the back seat while she shopped. When she returned a couple of hours later and got behind the wheel, a canister of Pepperidge Farms Crescent Rolls exploded in the extreme heat, rocketing a wad of dough into the back of her scalp!
Jumping to the conclusion that she had been shot by an unseen assassin, the woman mistook the oozing dough for her brains. Instantly she interlocked both hands in a desperate attempt to keep them in. Filled with confusion, terror, and stress.
Luckily, once the guard got her out of the car and showed her the canister, she realized she was unharmed and her stress was under control.
Although that scenario may seem funny, we can all fall victim to premature conclusions. And those conclusions can kill you … figuratively, at least.
That’s why I teach a simple concept in my program called “Take This Job and Love It! Managing Stress and Preventing Burnout On and Off the Job.” I teach people to “withhold evaluation until comprehension is complete.” The skill can be mastered in 15 minutes with an exercise I teach in the program, but it will be a real time-saver, nerve-saver, and life-saver ever after.
If you’re interested in having me present this program at one of your upcoming meetings, you can read the program outline by clicking here. And you can call Aaron in my office for more details.
One other skill I advocate is…
2. Learn how to go from peeved to poised.
That’s an actual quote from my good friend Rob Peck and the title of Chapter 4 in his new book, “It’s A Juggle Out There.” The chapter title is not only catchy but also offers great advice.
It’s somewhat similar to the response given by a 113-year-old man when he was asked the secret of his longevity. He responded, “When it rains, I let it.“
To get more specific, Rob illustrates the point by saying when he is running late for an appointment, two phrases vie for his attention: “Oh, hell!” and “Oh, well!” Both are short phrases, spelled almost the same, but the difference made by that one letter has a surprisingly large consequence.
Of course, I’m not advocating profanity, and neither is Rob. But think about it. When you think or utter “Oh, hell,” you set yourself up to feel put out, angry, and defiant. “Oh, well” helps you stay calm and upbeat.
The “oh-hell reaction,” just like the name suggests, makes you hot under the collar. You actually sweat.
By contrast, the oh-well reaction immediately puts you in the frame of mind as to what you can do to accept, adapt to, and deal with your stressful situation. Instead of feeling like a victim, you move into a take-control mode of decision making and problem solving.
Finally, for today’s purposes, I’ll focus on one other skill that is a wonderful stress buster. (In my program on “Take This Job and Love It!” you actually take away 24 skills that will make sure you are stress resistant, no matter what.) But the final skill for today’s “Tuesday Tip” is…
3. Keep your sense of humor in shape.
It needs to be exercised, just like your body, so it serves you when you need it.
In fact, tomorrow I will send you “75 of the World’s Best One-Liners.” Look for them. Enjoy them. Loosen up a bit. And laugh.
I actually collect humorous things, keep them on hand, and look at them once in a while to keep me stress resistant. Once such thing was a Halloween card from my friend Scott Friedman. It contained “The Top 10 Most Frightening Country Song Titles.” They were:
“How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?“
“You Can’t Have Your Kate And Edith Too“
“If You Won’t Leave Me, I’ll Find Someone Who Will“
“I’m So Miserable Without You, It’s Like Having You Here“
“Mama, Get The Hammer (There’s A Fly On Papa’s Head)“
“My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend, And I Sure Do Miss Him“
“If My Nose Were Full Of Nickels, I’d Blow Them All On You“
“I’ve Got You On My Conscience, But At Least You’re Off My Back“
“Take Me To The Corn Field, Honey, And I’ll Kiss You Between The Ears“
“Welcome To Dumpsville, Population U“
Scott got me laughing and my stress for that moment, and that day, just slipped away. In fact, he even inspired me to write my own song title to add to his Top 10. I wrote, “It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Butt All Day Long.”
Don’t let stress get you down. Take it down, instead!