Perception influences stress. This is critical to understand in order to reduce stress. Put another way, change your perception of stress and stress itself changes.
William James, the father of American psychology, phrased it this way, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” Understanding this and the fact that the brain cannot hold two active perceptions at the same time helps reduce stress..
The opening paragraph of my book, “Discipline Without Stress,” deals with mindsets and perceptions.
It sets the stage for the entire book because what people perceive influences how they think and act.
Here is an exercise you can experience suggesting the power of perception.
First, close your eyes and imagine in your mind a seagull floating gracefully in the air. See it gently, easily, effortlessly gliding. Now with your eyes a quarter of the way open so that you can see the floor in front of you, move like a seagull—keeping the image of the seagull vividly in your mind.
Second, close your eyes and imagine a jackhammer. See it moving rapidly up and down in short, jerky, staccato movements. Now with your eyes a quarter of the way open, see the floor in front of you move like a jackhammer—keeping the image of the jackhammer vividly in your mind.
Once again, close your eyes and imagine that effortless, graceful seagull floating on an air current, barely moving its wings. Keep that image of the seagull vividly in your mind, open your eyes a quarter of the way, and move like a jackhammer.
You will have a great deal of difficulty moving like a jackhammer while thinking of a seagull. Your movements will be somewhere between jerky and graceful, or they will be frozen and unable to move at all.
Here is the point: We cannot do anything counter to the images we hold in our mind. In order to change a perception, we must change the image. Otherwise, any changes we make will be impossible, difficult, or short-lived.
Tip: Change your perception of stress and you will reduce your stress.