I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress lately in my life. I get wrapped up in it and tell myself (and others) how stressed I am.
This mentality ends up breeding even more stress, and it’s honestly not healthy.
As I listen to others around me, I’ve come to realize this is the norm. Despite all of the technology we have and all of our luxuries, we consider ourselves to be the most stressed generation.
Stress, more than anything, is a mindset. It’s something we create ourselves in order to try and protect ourselves.
We even become stressed about the unknown. The possibility of infinite success, or infinite failure, naturally gets our emotions to focus the darker side of the world.
Instead, I challenge you to take the lessons from each of these clips. Apply them to your life and see just how much better you can make your life.
I’d love to hear what you think about this episode, and how you apply these lessons in your life – so don’t hesitate to reach out to me on social media and let me know how it’s been working for you.
Download this episode now and learn about how you can take control of your stress, on Episode 659.
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This is episode number 659 on Overcoming Stress And Owning The Day.
Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.
John De Paola said, “Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.”
I’m very excited about this episode! I have been actually dealing with a bit of stress myself, lately, so I thought it would be a powerful episode since it seems like stress has been happening for a lot of people.
I don’t know what is in the air, and why people are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, but it’s always good to reconnect to ourselves, to a greater purpose and to a healthy lifestyle. And that is what this is all about.
This is a mash-up of some of the best wisdom that I’ve heard from some of the top experts like Amanda Enayati, like Lissa Rankin, like Arianna Huffington and Todd Kashdan, all about healthy ways to overcome and deal with stress. And how to understand where it comes from and how to manage it.
So, I’d love to hear your thoughts, again, lewishowes.com/659. Share with your friends on your Instagram stories, on Twitter, on Facebook, and let me know what you think. And before we dive in, I’ve got to give a shout out to the Fan of the Week! This is from André, who says, “Lewis, thank you so much for being a leader here. You inspire me to be the best version of myself as I see you doing the same.
“Thank you for putting together your vision in a way that shows me that my success is possible, too. I learn so much from every interview, love your Five-Minute Fridays! Keep up the great work! Looking forward to hanging with you one day on this road to greatness!”
So, André! Thank you so much for listening every single week! Again, we’ve got episodes every Monday, Wednesday and our Five-Minute Fridays, something, always, to get you inspired, enlightened and entertained throughout your week and have you optimise your life and have you living that richness that you always want to live.
So, thank you guys for leaving reviews and, again, you can leave one over on iTunes or the podcast app on your phone. We’ve got over 3,000 plus, 5-star reviews, and I appreciate each one of you guys’ thoughts and remarks.
But without further ado, let’s dive into this episode, all about overcoming stress!
Amanda Enayati: Why is it that we have this narrative that we have about how stressed out we are? Now, I don’t think, and some of the top experts in the world, whom I interviewed for the book, don’t think that we live in the most stressed out generation.
There are two main differences: A, we think that we are one of the most stressed out generations because we have this story circulating. We have these stories of how stressed out we are, circulating constantly, and what happens with those stories?
Because humans have something called emotional contagion, because our emotions are viral, they go viral. When I walk into a room, if I’m not in a good mood, I’m going to be kind of pissy. I pass that pissiness on to the next person.
Lewis Howes: That’s true!
Amanda Enayati: Right? Or, if I’m joyful, then I can pass that on to the next person. But, what happens is, we are so connected and we have this sense of adversity that all we’re doing is circulating this sense of constant adversity around, and so, if you really become mindful of it and go around day to day and kind of listen for the phrase, “Oh, my gosh, I’m so stressed out!” or, “She’s so stressful!” or, “This is such a stressful situation!” you will hear it constantly.
Because it’s become part of our cultural narrative, that we are all so stressed out, and then that narrative goes through the ether. It goes through our phones, goes through the articles we write and the movies we make and the films and the music that we make, and it sort of passes around like a big virus. And so, we all have this perception that we are stressed out.
Now, here’s why that’s a problem: Because stress isn’t so much about what’s happening to you, but how your body is reacting to what’s happening to you, right? And so, if you think that you are always stressed out and you are always under siege, then your body is always going to be reacting as if it’s under siege, and that, right there, is the definition of toxic stress.
It is endless, it goes on for a long time, it’s long term, you don’t know what to do about it. So, you’re basically walking around constantly with cortisol flowing through your body and in a state of inflammation. That is a recipe for disaster.
Lewis Howes: I love that! And you’re not only creating, physically creating cancer in your body, or creating cancer as an environment in yourself, and spreading that to other people, if you’re constantly stressed out. And I love this in part two of your book, where it says, “Stress is a guide,” speaking into what you just said there.
Ghandi says, “Your belief becomes your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”
So, just speaking into what you were saying, the more you do those things, it becomes part of your body and it becomes part of your life. And it’s a downward spiral.
Amanda Enayati: Exactly!
Lewis Howes: So, if I was to, say you have a friend, who is constantly stressed out and who’s always in their head and speaking in a negative way and saying how stressed they are and they’re constantly not calm, there’s no clarity, they’re just negative Nancys, constantly. And they said, “Amanda, what do I need to do to be less stressful? How can I be calm?”
If you were to say, “Here are three to five things to get started,” what advice would you give that person?
Amanda Enayati: There are two things that pervade in our culture constantly. One is, people get really pissed off at you when you say, you’re going to have to create your own world, because they say, “Oh, do you mean I created the negativity around me?”
And the difference there is mindset. There’s some amazing research coming out of Stanford by Carol Dweck and a fantastic, brilliant researched named Alia Crum. The research shows that if you have a stressed mindset, if you’re walking around, responding in a stressed mindset, then you will really suffer from that stressed mindset.
So, the idea is to first examine your stories, and say, “Am I walking around, do I have a stressed mindset? What are the stories that I’m telling?” And the first part of my book, in the first chapter of the second part of my book, about resilience, really deconstructs our stories and tells us the elements of how we can figure out what stories are circulating, how we can be mindful in the moment, how we can be self-aware, how we can increase our mental agility, and how we can cultivate optimism.
There is this idea going around, and all this writing, every once in a while, about the power of negative thinking. There was a whole magazine that came out about it recently. And somehow people have this misperception that optimists have it all wrong, that optimism means ‘inauthentic exuberance’.
And I think that is so wrong, because I’m a huge optimist, and I don’t deny pain and misery at all. Because I don’t think that’s optimism. I think optimism, ultimately, is the ability to suffer, but to continue to tell good stories that propel you forward, instead of remaining in the suffering.
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Todd Kashdan: Just like not everybody could make a professional sports league, whether you know, you name the sport, from volleyball to golf, we just have a certain range to which we are able to get to, based on our God-given talents, gifts and physiology that we have.
I mean, I was not going to be in professional football league like you, no matter how many hours that I trained or how many hours I put in the gym. It’s just not going to happen. So, it’s trainable, and we don’t know what the limits are, and so there’s no reason to suggest limits about how much pain we can tolerate, because of that.
And probably, you can think of players that are on every team that you’ve been in since you were in middle school, they were probably not the best players, but everybody respected them, because they never rolled like a fish, they always were the last person to finish a drill, not because they were slow, but because they wouldn’t stop fighting.
They just kept running, kept pushing, sweat didn’t bother them, tears didn’t bother them, cuts didn’t bother them, bruises didn’t bother them. There are plenty of great athletes who wish they could have that ability to tolerate pain. And emotionally, I know for myself, when I’m always asked, “Who is your greatest heroes in your life?” there’s a couple of physicists and scientists that I mention, but also I mention stand-up comedians.
Because these are people who handle the pain of having to tell jokes in such a way that you have to try to get laughter and smiles every fifteen seconds, for a 45 minute session. It’s just terrifying to think about, because it’s so hard to connect with someone, but to make someone laugh is just a whole other level, and consistently, for a 45 minute stint.
And so, the courage to get up there and do that, knowing that you have no idea what people’s sense of humour is when you walk out there. Day in, day out, and then constantly trying to experiment with new material, that’s bravery! That’s emotional agility, and that’s the ability to tolerate pain.
If you are unable to sit in front of a room full of people and flounder, and not land jokes in front of them, you’ll never make it as a comedian. I mean, you have to be willing to fail. And there’s something we have control over.
One of the big predictors of whether people are successful or not is not how well they did in school, not what they scored on the SAT, or the GRE, or the MCAT, or any achievement test, it’s whether you can tolerate pain and control your emotions so that you can get through a difficult situation.
Lewis Howes: Why is it that reason? Why is the ability to tolerate pain, the key to living a great life? I’m just curious.
Todd Kashdan: Well, the building blocks for a meaningful, happy life, are moments. And in order to get a greater frequency of joy, and a greater frequency of love, and a greater frequency of connecting intimately with another person, and a greater frequency of feeling as if you’ve done something where you’ve got a legacy that’s going to live longer than the few years you’re going to be on this planet, you’ve got to learn how to work for the long haul.
Which means sitting and reading books. It means reading people, learning about people. It means going into the gym. It means going into classes. It means listening to people that are smarter than you, being around people that intimidate you, so that you can kind of acquire, “What can I learn from them, to bring to myself?”
To have all those distressing emotions where you’re just a rookie, and all those distressing emotions recognising, “There’s a gap between my knowledge and my skills and where I am now, there’s a gap between that and where I want to be, that causes pain.”
And so, if you aren’t willing to learn, if you’re not willing to grow, you’re not going to evolve as a person, you’re not going to reach those aspirational goals you’re shooting for. And a key feature of that is being able to tolerate the distress that goes along with the learning curve.
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Lissa Rankin: In ‘The Fear Cure’, I talk about, what I call, the four fearful assumptions, and these are four beliefs that, I think, make us really frightened. One is, “uncertainty is unsafe,” one is, “I can’t handle losing what I cherish,” one is, “It’s a hostile universe, so I have to protect myself’, and the last one is, “I’m all alone.” So, obviously, if you think you’re all alone in a hostile universe, at risk of loss and uncertainty, then life is scary.
And I think, just uncertainty, even uncertainty in the face of good things happening, is scary for us. So, you talk to a mother who is about to give birth, and she’s often scared. You talk to somebody who is about to get married, to the person that they consider the love of their life and they’re scared.
So, even moving into the uncertain in exciting ways is frightening to us, because we don’t know how to come into right relationship with uncertainty, and we’re terrified of losing what we cherish. And so, I love Brené Brown’s work, and she talks, in ‘Daring Greatly’, she talks about what she calls “foreboding joy”, and she describes it as that feeling of standing over your child.
I have a nine-year-old, so I know this feeling, where you’re standing over your gorgeous child, who is sleeping, and you feel your heart just bursting with love for this child, and the second you let yourself really start to feel how much you love this child, you’re flooded with this terrifying feeling of how vulnerable you are, because of how much you have to lose.
And you can barely stand the thought of, “What if I lose this precious being?” And I think we kind of walk around that way. I have this amazing life, and I have these moments of foreboding joy, where I’m like, “What if I lost it all?”
So, there’s a part of us that wants to shore everything up, and make sure we can shore up our finances and shore up the safety of our loved ones and make sure we don’t get our hearts broken, and protect our bodies and make sure there’s no toxic chemicals in our house.
And we’re so busy shoring up our lives, that we stop having joyful lives.
Lewis Howes: You mean we play it too safe, is what you’re saying?
Lissa Rankin: Yeah! And what I talk about in ‘The Fear Cure’, is how we can actually shift those beliefs. It’s a cultural choice. These are cultural beliefs, and when I was at 16,000ft in the Andes, living in a Q’eros village, studying the shamans there, I realised they don’t have those beliefs.
I had just finished writing The Fear Cure, so it was very validating to be there, because I didn’t know this about the Q’eros culture, this indigenous tribe I was staying with, but the four, what I call the courage cultivating truths, which are the opposite of the four fearful assumptions, these are the world view that the Q’eros live by and it’s the opposite.
So, instead of uncertainty is unsafe, what if uncertainty is the gateway to possibility? What if, when you don’t know what the future holds, anything could happen? Right? And there’s a whole journey that can go on when you come into right relationship with uncertainty. When you realise that, instead of playing it safe, there is a way to allow your intuition to protect you, so that you can actually safely take risks that open the gates of possibility.
And instead of loss being something that we can’t handle, that loss is natural and can lead to growth, and I know, for me, when I went through what I called, ‘my perfect storm’, where I gave birth to my daughter, and within two weeks my dog died, my healthy young brother wound up in full blown liver failure, as a rare side effect from the anti-biotic, Zithromax, that he was taking for a sinus infection. And then my beloved physician father was fifty-nine years old and died of a brain tumour. All in two weeks.
And I can look back on that and say, “Wow! Loss is natural and can lead to growth!” That was the most transformative loss of my life, and I wouldn’t be living the life that I’m living now, if I didn’t have that loss. And I think almost everybody that’s listening can probably think of some experience of loss in their life, that, at the time, felt absolutely devastating, and in retrospect we can see how it breaks your heart open! That hurts, but it also liberates the soul.
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Arianna Huffington: So, I don’t like the word, ‘balance’, because our lives are not really about balance, it’s all about integration, for me. What it means is, if your everyday routine includes getting adequate sleep, when you have a sick child, a big deadline, then you have some reserves to tap into.
Life is always going to throw you curve balls, where you have to stay up all night, or something happens, I’m not suggesting this won’t happen. But what has happened in our culture is, we’ve made that the norm.
Lewis Howes: Yeah, the main thing.
Arianna Huffington: And that’s really the problem. And I think, that’s why I’m stressing that people need to understand that if all you care in life is about winning, then you’re going to improve your chances when you are fully recharged. Because that’s when you are going to make your best decisions, that’s when you are going to be able to see the ice bergs before they hit the Titanic, which is a very important thing for entrepreneurs.
And look at entrepreneurs now. I was in Silicone Valley this week. Three quarters of start-ups fail, and there is the myth of the entrepreneur who never sleeps, stays up all night, well, maybe there’s a correlation between sleep deprivation and three-quarters of them failing.
And I was speaking at the Stanford Business School, and the students there, the MBA students were telling me how many of them have meningitis, or whooping cough, or all these diseases which are signs of a suppressed immune system, because you are burnt out.
So, in the end, it’s not even as though you are more productive, because you end up being in bed, sick! Instead of being in bed because you are recharging.
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Lewis Howes: There you have it, my friends! I hope you enjoyed this episode, all about overcoming stress. Again, don’t allow stress to consume your life. Make sure you take a strong hold on it, and allow your body to relax in those challenging situations. Or just make sure you’re constantly focussing on what’s important in your life and figuring out how to let go of that stress when it comes.
There’s lots of great techniques and strategies to do that, but it’s always good to have peace of mind, sleep well, work out, and allow yourself to get through that stress on a day to day basis.
Again, if you enjoyed this, let me know, and share with your friends, lewishowes.com/659, is the link to share with your friends about Overcoming Stress And Owning The Day.
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Now, my friends, as John De Paola said, “Slow down, and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.”
Now is the time to be at peace within your heart, and in your mind, so you can allow things to come to you, as oppose to you constantly chasing everything around you.
I love you so very much! You know what time it is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!