William James, the father of American psychology, was describing a key stress management technique when he said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
What he was really talking about was how “perceiving influences believing.”
In all three of my books, I talk about mindsets. My purpose is to have people be aware of how they phrase and verbalize their own thoughts. This will have a significant effect on their perceptions, their beliefs, and their stress management.
You can see how perceptions and what you visualize affect your stress levels by the following little experiment.
A Stress Management Experiment
First, close your eyes and imagine in your mind a seagull floating gracefully in the air. See it gently, easily, effortlessly gliding through the air. Now, open your eyes a quarter of the way 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.
Now, close your eyes and imagine a jackhammer. See it moving rapidly up and down in short, jerky, staccato movements. Now, open your eyes a quarter of the way so that you can 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. Now, keeping 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 jackhammers while thinking of a seagull. Their movements will be somewhere in between jerky and graceful, or they will be frozen and you will be unable to move at all.
Here is the point: You cannot do anything counter to the images you hold in your mind.
Tip: In order to succeed at stress management, you must change your perception by trashing the old and visualizing your new habit or behavior. Otherwise, any changes you attempt will be difficult and very short-lived.
You can get many more empowering tips like this one in my award-winning book, Live Without Stress: How to Enjoy the Journey. Buy one and get one free as a gift. You will not want to depart with your own copy. Be sure to check out the Without Stress Facebook Group where you can connect with other life-minded people on a journey to reduce stress.