Stress mindset #1: A need for control
It’s a familiar scenario either in ourselves or other successful people; the need to control other people and situations and it’s worse if you’re a ‘maximizer’, someone with the irrepressible urge to make things better. It leads to unhappiness in two ways.
What to do instead – Build your internal control muscle
Countless studies have found that being in control of ourselves rather than others – internal control – leads to increased levels of happiness.
Developing internal control is like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the more it builds and starting small is best.
Rather than asking yourself whether you could control yourself if you lost all your money or a limb, practice maintaining internal control when tiny things disappoint you such as rain on your holiday or your kid bawling their head off in public.
Try labelling your emotions, without trying to control the situation or person and then moving on. For example, ‘I’m feeling frustrated because I’m stuck in traffic, but that’s okay because I can’t control that.’
Stress mindset #2: The need for superiority
Valuing yourself self worth based on your materialistic value can leave you feeling stressed. Numerous studies have found that those that are higher in status are more physically and emotionally healthy.
But striving too hard for superiority can make us unhappy. First, it can lead to mimicking the competition which minimises our authenticity. Your neighbour runs 100 metres in 20 seconds, so you focus on running it in 12 to beat him.
But you’re much better off having an internal yardstick for comparison or you’ll be tempted into moving away from your own strengths to do what he does which is shown not to work.
Plus, superiority is hard to measure – how do you know you’re the best drummer or teacher or soldier out there? So we use ‘extrinsic markers’ such as fame or wealth to measure our status. That makes us materialistic and numerous studies have found that as materialism goes up, contentment goes down.
What to do instead – Practice extrinsic gratitude
Gratitude lists are all the rage because they’re proven to work.
But an important distinction to stop you striving to be superior is rather than emphasise how well you have done and what a great job you did, practice being grateful for all the small things and people that came together to bring you a favourable outcome.
That kind of extrinsic gratitude connects you to people where striving for superiority can isolate you (especially if you’re always going on about your achievements!).
Stress mindset #3: Wanting to be loved
Those in intimate, long-term relationships with a significant other fare well in the happiness stakes and love and connection has been shown in studies to be a critical human need.
But for many people who strive for success before happiness, a healthy need for connection can become neediness; a desperation to be loved.
In studies, high levels of neediness co-relate to unhappiness, anxiety and depression and can make us overly bothered about what others think, causing a desperate desire for attention.
What to do instead – Be an otherish giver
While the successful and miserable tend to show desperation and neediness for love from others, the happy and successful tend to focus on the need to love and give.
Thanks for reading.