(This book excerpt is from “Understand & Manage Your Stress” in The Project Management Minimalist: Just Enough PM to Rock Your Projects!)
Best Practice: Consciously choose your attitude.
“We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”
— Epictetus in The Enchiridion
“From the most simple task to the most complex, if you are not in a state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others.”
— Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth
Take another look at the Tolle quote above. The selection in bold tells the whole story. The graphic above illustrates how one man’s thrashing against reality – his self-chosen misery – is creating suffering for himself and others!
So what should this guy be doing? Well, according to Tolle, he only has three choices.
- He can accept his situation and stop wasting energy fighting against it. (This will allow him to think more clearly and figure out how to make things better.)
- He can find something to enjoy about the situation.
- He can become enthusiastic about the situation.
Any of these choices will make things better for himself and those around him.
Now when you think about it, he actually has a fourth choice: He can remove himself from the situation by simply quitting his job. That is, he can go somewhere else and do something else that won’t make him so unhappy.
But if he can’t quit or remove himself, then he must accept, enjoy, or become enthusiastic about his situation. To thrash around against reality, bemoaning the situation and spilling negative energy all over other people, is simply stupid. Worse, it saps away energy that could be used to make the changes that could improve things.
So the next time you find yourself ranting and raving and thrashing around against reality, refer to the chart above. See if you can’t reduce your stress and make things better for everyone around you by consciously choosing a different attitude!
Note: There’s more about how you can “Consciously Choose Your Attitude,” in the 3rd part of The Project Management Minimalist: … (The People Stuff)). You can also check out my 18-minute podcast, “Consciously Choose Your Attitude,” here.