How to reduce stress and improve your results by embracing life's uncertainty.
There is a positive thinking movement also known as the Law of Attraction. As a Humanist, I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I like the idea of being positive. I like the idea of imagining a better future and then working toward those goals. After all, without positive thinking, the motivation to do and try new things wouldn’t be there. We have to believe we can create change to even try.
The problem is that all that positive thinking doesn’t help you if it prevents you from planning for potential difficulties. The road to a better, happier life isn’t easy and no amount of positive thinking is going to change that basic reality.
Life is uncertain. You can plan for success; however you define that, all you want. You can do everything right and still fail through no fault of your own. Good people have bad things happen to them. That is just the way of the world. Life is uncertain.
I think one of the reasons why people are so attracted to positive thinking is because it gives them a way to control their fears and nervousness. It is a way for them to believe they have control over things they don’t actually have control of.
The Humanist approach is to embrace reality. And that means, embracing uncertainty. Accepting that there are some things beyond your control doesn’t have to cause you stress. It turns out that the fear you don’t have control is worse than accepting that you don’t. Once you accept that the outcomes of your endeavors are ultimately unknown, it frees you up to focus on the things you can control instead. Do your best and hope for the best. But it is always a good idea to be prepared and to have an alternative plan in place just in case things don’t go as you had hoped. That isn’t pessimistic. It is just good planning.
What do you do to control the stress created by uncertainty? Do you use the Serenity Prayer? Do you have a silly little ritual you perform that helps or a mantra that you repeat to yourself? Don't be ashamed, we all do. I personally close my eyes and remind myself of how much I love my husband and son when I get stressed out. It helps me every time. Rituals are a way of coping with the stress of uncertainty. I’d love to hear what your quirky ritual habits are.