Don’t worry, be happy; control stress with your imagination

Recently I heard an incredible speaker (wish I caught his name – I was driving at the time). What struck me most is a statement he made declaring that stress is the result of a poorly directed mind. He went on to provide an argument on how you can control stress with your imagination.control stress with your imagination

Think about this for a minute.

Is it what’s happening to you that causes stress or what you envision as the outcome of circumstances? Can other people create your stress, or is it how you interpret, respond to or predict their actions? When you get stressed out over tomorrow, next week or next year, isn’t every ounce of angst based on what you imagine as a disappointing, hectic, unfavorable or difficult outcome? Can you be stressed if you steer your imagination toward positive solutions and outcomes?

It’s not what’s going on in your life (we’re all pretty good at dealing with the present – no matter how challenging events may be); it’s where you see it going. Wow! That’s a life-changing thought, isn’t it?

Positive thinking is good, but you need more power

Honestly, I have some issues with the notion that if you merely think about what you want it will magically appear. Doing creates better results, in my experience. Yes, of course, the items you dwell on are what you see, so positive thinking is far more productive than negative fixation, but this whole notion of dream it and it will come seems to lack a grounding in reality. Still, when you recognize stress is almost always a product of your mind, it makes sense to steer your imagination in ways that discourage stress and encourage optimism.

Granted, you might be wrong with your envisioned outcome, but you might be right. The chances of positive futures are greater if you play good scenes in your mind instead of fixating on failure. Plus, what’s the point of spending hours, days, weeks or years worrying before you feel the pain?

Research says less than 10% of our worry is justified

According to Nightingale Conant, only 8% of worries are worth it. Success Magazine states 90% of what scares you never comes to pass. Most other sources come in at that less than 10% mark on the accuracy of the stress we put ourselves through. Sure, sometimes it’s hard to take our minds off the worst, but when you consider the stress you endure is your own doing (and most of the time unfounded), doesn’t it make sense to work hard toward a mind shift that eliminates stress?

Having financial challenges? You’re not alone. What good does it do to waste time stressing out (or worse, talking about how bad it is all the time) when you can focus that energy on solutions to dig out?

Worried your business won’t make it? Why? You felt you had a good concept to start and invested in the idea. Even if you fail this time, the learning experience you draw from the miss will make you better armed for your next success.

Do you spend time thinking about and retelling stories of all the people who have burned you? Is this really a productive way to move forward to a better place? By the way, if it’s always someone else’s fault, consider the common ground (you).

Think things will go wrong – you’re probably right

I once had a banker look at me aghast (and write me off of her credible resource list) when I stated I didn’t believe small businesses were failing because of the economy. Her hackles went up immediately and she proceeded to lecture me on the facts – with trend statistics and fiscal findings as proof. She was right, of course. Her bank customers were going under in increasing numbers with justification based on the research she provided (undoubtedly to them as well).

Every so often, something touches you in a way that really turns your head around. I’m probably more naturally a pessimist than optimist, but do believe in the power of your thoughts. I’ve worked hard to be conscious of where my mind’s going to push it back to a better place. There was a time when I’d proudly declare “I don’t do stress.” It was true statement. Lately I’ve let myself creep back into a place I didn’t used to go. This idea of stress being a (bad) product of your imagination really grabs me. I hope it will do the same for you.

For those adults around last century, here’s a song that might bring back some memories to make you smile.

 

Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on stress or ideas you’ve implemented to reduce worry. Don’t forget to take a moment to visit the Share Bar on the right side of this blog to spread the word.

12 Responses to Don’t worry, be happy; control stress with your imagination
  1. Jan
    October 14, 2012 | 2:39 pm

    It’s not often I share on my personal FB page, but I did this “like” this article. Stress has been on my mind a lot this past week as I’ve been tapping away and formating guides and videos for one of my counsellor ladies – all about stress and reducing it…

    There’s no doubt in my mind that stress is a product of our thoughts, I’ve been there enough – worrying about the what if to the point that it made me physically ill. Change your thoughts, get control – sounds easy but it takes practice.

    It’s not all about positive thinking. Like you I don’t think I can imagine something and it will appear. Positive thinking with positive action gets far better results 🙂

    • Nanette Levin
      October 14, 2012 | 6:12 pm

      Thank you Jan for making an exception and ‘liking’ this post. What really struck about this speaker (I will continue the search to discover who it was) is the way he equated stress with imagination. This to my mind is a different term than attitude or positive thinking. Of course, it may be my creative tendencies that made it easier to relate to what he was saying in these terms, but it struck me as a way of thinking that is easier to understand and apply.

  2. Minette Riordan
    October 14, 2012 | 3:43 pm

    Nanette, I always appreciate your writing style and your perspective on your blog. I agree that action is necessary to move us towards dreams and goals. But it all starts with imagination. We have to have a clear picture of what we want to create before it will become a reality. If the only picture we can see is stress-filled, full of fear and the expectation of failure, that’s what we will create. For me, something as simple as coloring a mandala or creating a new Zentangle® can keep my hands busy and help me move my thoughts to a happier place. Getting outside is also something I do consistently to shift energy to a happier place.

    • Nanette Levin
      October 14, 2012 | 6:14 pm

      Good suggestions, Minette (I’m going to have to look up Zentangle – that’s a new one for me). Agreed (and I’ve struggled with this at times) seeing where you’re going is critical. Thanks for the kind words and thoughtful comments.

  3. Julia Neiman (@julianeiman)
    October 14, 2012 | 7:43 pm

    That’s a smart speaker you were listening to Nanette. He communicated a very deep thought. Imagination is the root of all power and when not directed with positive thoughts, it’s creates all sorts of havoc. Change your thoughts and you can change not only the small things in your own life, but the whole world.

    One’s life is the reflection of their imagination.

    Thank you so much for sharing that statement. We all need a reminder about attitude from time to time, particularly on days when life is challenging.

    • Nanette Levin
      October 14, 2012 | 10:07 pm

      It’s funny how when you hear something in a different way it resonates with you more deeply, isn’t it Julia? For me, drawing on imagination is something that comes fairly easily yet I forget this can be a bad thing too when wrongly directed. You’re right, of course – imagination is the root of so much. And yes, it can change the world. Thanks for stopping in and commenting.

  4. Mark A. Michael
    October 14, 2012 | 8:07 pm

    Its always our thoughts about the situation that cause the stress, not the situation itself. This is a good thing as we now have control over our life.

    • Nanette Levin
      October 14, 2012 | 10:09 pm

      We are a product of our thoughts, aren’t we. Thanks for stopping in with the reminder of how much control we have in our lives, Mark.

  5. Lisa Marie
    October 14, 2012 | 8:32 pm

    Nanette,
    I loved your post. I agree with you about how positive thinking is not a magical thing. Gotta take action. I loved how you included the song in the post too. I resonate very much with how worry is usually unfounded. The one thing that has helped me is to try being the observer in my daily life. It is not an easy practice, but it helps me to detach a bit 🙂

    • Nanette Levin
      October 14, 2012 | 10:10 pm

      That’s a good tip, Lisa Marie. If we step back a bit and try to take in what we’re doing (or thinking) from a wider perspective, it certainly silly sometimes, doesn’t it?

  6. Cheri
    October 15, 2012 | 2:31 am

    Great post. It is often very difficult to detach ourselves from our worry and stress, but it’s helpful to remember how much control we actually have over things. And thanks for the musical reminder too; that song always brings a smile to my face. Now, if only I could always remember the lesson.

    • Nanette Levin
      October 15, 2012 | 10:56 am

      Thanks for stopping in again, Cheri. Agreed, putting it all in perspective can be challenging at times, but if you realize you’re doing it to yourself in most cases, it makes more sense to take control. Yes, there’s something about that song (lots of memories for me) that is contagious. You’re welcome :-).

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