Stress is something I've battled with for as long as I've been alive.
The audacious dreams and goals versus the reality of where I am. Wanting to achieve so much, it's a constant moving of the goal-posts coupled with the feeling that I need to be stressed to feel like I want it badly enough.
What I've come to know, however, is that stress is useless.
It's harmful to your health long term, but in the short term it doesn't create any real benefit. The stressed energy brought on by fear and worry clouds one's judgement, and after a period it drains the energy that it once gave.
It's wholly unnecessary and destructive, but goodness, is it difficult to get rid of while still aiming high in life.
My favorite books are those that help you think more clearly. Nassim Taleb's Incerto series, for example, is a favorite of mine. It's largely about risk, but there are gem chapters that bring in true Stoicism, helping someone become antifragile, more than indestructible, but growing from chaos, not just surviving it.
The idea of Amor Fati, to love one's fate, is explained brilliantly. To be truly free and indestructible, you have to love what is regardless of what it is.
To many, that means forgoing ambitions, but that's not what I get from it. This idea of fuck you money, being truly free and powerful, has a duality. You have the funds to flee or protect yourself and your family, but you need nothing. You aim high, but it's not desires that pull you, it's habit, living well in the moment that creates greatness rather than the desire to have greatness.
The balancing act of being ambitious while stress free is a difficult one, until it isn't. It can be won with a decision, a choice in how you see the world that changes how you act, operate, and think.
I'm making that decision.
Currently, I have to consistently remind myself how to think and how life really ought to be lived, but over time that releasing of stress, the loving of fate, and the act of doing all you can in a moment, takes hold.
What we'll cover here is how to be immensely successful, to win the games in life you choose to play, while being present, grateful, and antifragile.
None of this is my wisdom, nothing here is original. Everything is at minimum a thousand years old so you know it's stood time's test, been tested through generations and empires by various people trying to live well, to show that they were here for a reason through their achievements, while being light and free to enjoy the journey and the only thing we really have in life, the present.
These ways of thinking are helping me immensely. I take from guys who maybe more naturally think this way and are winning on a grand scale and work on implementing in my own life.
Which is key. I'm not coming at this as a guy who naturally thinks this way and sees this perspective. I'm a guy who constantly wants to do more than I'm doing, to grow more, have more, experience greater adventures, always questioning myself.
So if you're a naturally stressed guy, coming from a guy who is that way, it doesn't have to be this way. We can change. We can improve. We can see things in a better light. You're not relegated to thinking as you've always though, trust me.
Hopefully this article helps you release stress, fear, and worry, while aiming high, being antifragile, and living greatly rather than constantly aspiring for greatness.
How to Achieve More While Stressing Less
We have to start with this idea of Amor Fati, or loving fate. That is, loving the highs, the lows, the struggles, the tragedy, death, failure, even the stress of having your back against the wall not knowing if you'll be able to feed your family.
That deep love of fate makes you indestructible, it also makes you light and free. But it takes work.
I'm a Christian, and as such, some of my internal communication is simply talking to God. When I was younger I'd ask Him for things. What I've learned to do is simply thank Him for things.
Thank you for my struggles. Thank you for this opportunity to see things more clearly, to prove to myself that I can handle the situation, rise from the depths, gain the skills and attributes that these struggles bring.
My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it… but love it.
To want nothing to be different, while living in the moment to do your best is true power. It's desireless living. Desires are merely contracts we make with ourselves that we'll be happy when...
When we get the job, the house, the freedom, the whatever. It's the wrong way to live. We can still get better while loving what we have. The greatness we seek is created by the habits we live. A longing or yearning doesn't improve those habits, thus, it doesn't increase your chances of grasping that potential you have.
Having the right habits merely takes time, some thinking, and then commitment to those habits and to the moment. You do the thing you set out to do and only that thing. Do that for a long enough period and your results exceed what you deep down thought possible.
Love what is. While living as best you can. And 'as best you can' is simply doing the right thing and only that thing in any given moment.
Greatness doesn't require stress, it requires focus and freedom.
Feel the finish line before you even get there.
There's a calm when you know where you're going and you're not worried as to whether you can get there or not. That confidence is a choice that's backed by action.
You can't remove stress if you're not making progress, and progress is based on habits and tasks completed, not results.
This Bible verse outlines how winners think:
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
The prayer is the goal that you're asking yourself to achieve. You have to act and believe that it's already yours before you step out into the chaos of the world and try to claim it.
For many of us, this is difficult. We have doubt in our ability to achieve what we're aiming at. We lack confidence. We even like the doubt because we think it pushes us to do more.
You can, however, choose confidence and back it with action. You can choose to have the peace of knowing you can achieve anything and support that knowledge with the habits that create little wins, that compound into greater victories, and that create the man worthy of the audacious goals you may have.
Practice this belief. Constantly talk to yourself as if you are the guy who has the achievement rather than the guy desiring the thing that seems to grand to obtain.
It takes practice. You have to shut out the doubt. You have to love fate and not really care about the downside, the failure. You have to only see the upside, the victory, and be in that direction as you work tirelessly because that's what life is, work.
Work is us expressing a reason for our existence. It's not so much struggle as it is life. You're here, alive, you may as well see how great you can become, and that 'greatness' is created by habitual improvement. It's micro, little actions, not macro, some grand act that gets you to that place in the sun.
Be at peace in knowing you're that guy.
Don't let yourself down.
Do what you say you're going to do. Much of our stress comes from underperformance. Our stress, in this case, is justified. We're not living up to our potential, we're not doing what we set out to do, and we feel like crap about it.
Don't let yourself down. Get in the habit of always doing the work, without distraction.
Be ruthlessly present.
A practical method I use to achieve this presence and focus are work blocks. Block off time to work on a single thing. Start with a small amount of time, maybe 15 or 20 minutes, and focus on one thing. Expand that time as you train your brain to focus on a single thing without checking the phone or email or looking out the window to see what's going on.
When you focus on a single thing, and you accomplish tasks consistently, never letting yourself down by putting things off or succumbing to distraction, you create confidence, and confidence creates decisiveness. Those things create greatness.
Finally, comparison. It's the thief of joy, progress, and anything good in life. We can be on the right track with the results not yet arriving, but because we compare where we are to where someone else is, we deviate and alter course.
Comparison doesn't just rob us of happiness, it robs us of progress.
We don't know when the results will come. What we do know is that the right habits eventually lead to said results. But the right habits can look like the wrong habits when we're constantly comparing where we are or what we've achieved to what someone else has achieved.
You truly have to block out the world when you're living and working. Be happy, only have happiness, for the achievements of others, and never let them degrade what you're doing, and even more importantly, who you're being.
Comparison can rob the good of the first two modes of thinking on the list. As soon as you compare yourself in anyway to someone else, the good you're doing is removed.
Stay in your lane, always. Love fate. And do the work.
Thriving Without Stress
The above ways to think won't just improve your quality of life as they're improving mine, help you work better, and achieve more, they help you make better decisions and have better judgement, which is all success really is.
Our degree of success in life, excluding any luck factor, is dependent on the quality of our decisions. Clear thinking and good judgement create good decisions, which, over time, yield success.
We don't need stress, worry, or fear. We don't have to have these things to feel like we're improving.
Loving our life doesn't mean we're complacent. Loving fate doesn't, either. So long as the work's being done, the habits are in place, the victory is merely a matter of time, and stress will slow our progress. Rather than adding fuel to our fire it'll rust our wheels, decay our vigor.
Leave it be. Win. Thrive. Be in the moment. Live a great life. And allow life to unfold as it does, loving every aspect of it.