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Man sitting on log in forest. He appears stressed.

Stress is a Choice: Focus on What You Want in Your Life

Stress is chosen-not something that happens to you. How you react to that proposition is likely an indication of how you handle life’s ups and downs. Those who believe stress is nearly impossible to avoid find they are in stressful situations routinely. But those who believe they can choose their reactions to a situation often find their lives are less stressful.

Let’s say you’re on your way to an important meeting when a traffic accident occurs, instantly slowing the flow and forcing you to creep along the freeway. In that moment, if you automatically deem the situation to be negative then it’s likely you’ll be frustrated, upset, and stressed. But if you view the situation as neutral, you recognize that these types of things are simply out of your control – you can then find balance and realize that your reaction to the accident is what’s within your control, and you choose to be peaceful, then you will have a stress-free ride to your meeting.

So simple, yet so difficult to do when we’re actually in a situation like that.

I’ve read many books about how to handle stress, how to diminish it, and how to escape its ill effects-most of the time stress is talked about as though it were the flu and people have to hope and pray they don’t catch it. Stress is often seen as something that’s floating around in our world and if you’re not very careful it’ll attack you.

I used to view stress that way. But I’ve adopted a new attitude about stress. I view stress as a chosen reaction to circumstances and therefore if I choose to I can elect to have a different reaction.

It’s amazing the power our mind has over the experiences we have in life. I recently visited Chama, New Mexico for business and pleasure. While I was there I thought a lot about what a stress-free lifestyle these people must have. After all, how stressful can life be when you live in a tiny town with wide-open fields and so few cars on the road that traffic congestion would be seeing five cars backed up on the double-lane road into town? (Okay, for those addicted to fast-paced living that thought alone probably creates stress for you!) But my point here is that it’s not the environment that creates the stress-it’s the way we choose to see our environment and circumstances. If you believe that you can only relax and be stress-free in the country, in a hot tub, while getting a massage, etc. you’re setting yourself up for limited moments of stress-free living. Instead, if you realize that even in situations and environments that most would deem stressful you can choose peace, then your mind will take you to those stress-free places even during intense moments of chaos. Your mind is so powerful that you can think your way out of a stressful situation. The problem is that’s not normal or common in our society.

Most people are so used to dealing with stress that subconsciously they bring more and more stressful situations in their lives. They talk about the problems in their lives, the negativity, and all the things they don’t want. Then, as though they beckoned it into their lives, those problems and negative and stressful situations increase. You’ve heard this before: focus on what you want to get bigger – the problem or the solution. People who make valiant efforts to live stress-free, talk incessantly about the positive things in their lives, what they have to be happy about, and the good they are creating every day.

It’s that simple; and while it certainly may be easier to practice this when you’re on vacation or in a place that you typically view as stress-free, bringing home the skill to choose your reaction to all situations will empower and enrich you to live stress-free no matter where and what is happening in your life.

Courtesy image by Hamed Mehrnik from Pixabay.

Courtesy image 1388843 from Pixabay

When I’m not blogging about travel and lifestyle, I’m creating digital content and marketing strategies for clients. I share stories that matter about your brand and teach clients to "Be the Media." I was named a "Top 50 Podcaster To Follow" for my podcast "The Brand Journalism Advantage." Listen on iTunes or at