10 Ways to Keep Perspective and Avoid Stress and Anger

I’m an intense type A kind of person. I admit that. There aren’t many things that I want to do halfway when I start doing them. I want to own mastery over the things that I choose.

But I have my ways of being relaxed and groovy too. I struggled with anger a lot as a teenager and I had to come up with a lot of skills to deal with that and as it turns out, most of them have to do with keeping perspective. So I present to you this list of mental techniques I use to be sure I can be a chill dude while I am pursuing whatever ambitions I have.

  1. Remember: Whatever your journey, the destination is the same. In the end, we will all be dead. :) So try not to be outcome-oriented and instead, be experience-oriented. Make the most of your current experience by looking at what is around you and keeping your focus on the things that make you enjoy this moment. Use your eyes and your ears. Make small-talk with people rather than whipping out your phone. Enjoy the breeze, the trees, and your cranky knees.
  2. Give priority to your physical needs and comfort. Unless you’re presently engaged in endurance training of some sort, don’t let yourself get too hungry or hot or cold. Take bathroom breaks. You can enjoy your moments better when you aren’t distracted by the physical demands of being a human.
  3. Say No. If you’re saying yes to everything you will be over-committed. For any given moment of your life you will have to decide what your goals are and say “yes” to the things that align and “no” to the things that don’t. Time is limited. In choosing your goals, give intrinsic motivators (e.g. what you notice you have endless tenacity about) priority over extrinsic motivators (e.g. status in the community).
  4. Permit yourself to change your mind. And permit yourself to apologize. We are not omniscient beings and no one that we should reasonably care about expects this of us. But a good attitude and a verbal recognition that what you do matters to other people will always be appreciated.
  5. Avoid scheduling things back to back and and give yourself plenty of time to get places and/or collect your thoughts and prepare. Giving yourself time to think between engagements is valuable stress management.
  6. When driving… Treat every drive like a leisurely cruise on the boulevard. Think to yourself out loud: “there is no rush… what a nice day!”. Even if you are late. Give yourself the gift of a large following distance to the car in front of you. Around 5-7 seconds is good during non-rush hours… 3 seconds or more during rush. Don’t tailgate! Invite people to lane change ahead of you. Let people drive faster than you. Maybe they are poor fools that haven’t read #1.
  7. With other people… Remember that misunderstandings are commonplace. Extend to them an assumption of good intent and ask people to repeat or restate things that make you feel offended or defensive.
  8. Permit yourself to decide that some people are not worth your time. This includes dishonest people, negative people, and people who make their emotional needs the responsibility of everyone but themselves. Choose to deal with these people as little as possible.
  9. For stuck-on-the-phone with customer service scenarios, if you can’t seem to make sense of or make yourself understood to the person on the other end of the phone, ask for someone else. It doesn’t have to be unpleasant or upsetting. And you might get lucky and land with someone who is genuinely helpful and interested.
  10. Don’t run your budget too lean. If you’re spending close to what you’re making and living paycheck to paycheck, you will feel stress when bills come due. Keep extra money in savings so you don’t overdraw and spend drastically less than you make. Incidentally, this is a metaphor for nearly everything else on this list.

It was hard work coming up with this list. The examples are all over the map. But I hope that reading it helps you to keep perspective and enjoy your moments more.