Dodging the Stress Bullets

Recently I listened to part of Pedram Shojai’s New York Times best selling book – The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace.

It was quite interesting and a good reminder to live in the moment and make the best of it.

We often think that with success comes happiness & peace and that to achieve success you need to work hard. Sounds logical, but one important thing we miss out is that stress can sabotage all three – success, happiness and peace.

And that is why he begins his book by painting a very real picture of life in the modern western world and what we can do reduce our stress levels. You can hear his insights and tips below:



And if you don’t have the time to listen to the whole podcast, here are my key takeouts from this podcast:

  • In modern times our stress response is linked to financial and employment factors, i.e. we respond to work and money problems the same way we would respond to a life threatening situation such as a lion attack.
  • However, unlike animals, we humans are often unable to let go of the stresses, move on with our lives and live in the present.
  • Instead we hold on to stress and keep on reliving those stressful situations.
  • Our environment also has a huge impact on our stress levels
  • Clean diet, good sleep, full spectrum movement, quiet time and having a healthy mindset are the main components of a stress-free life.
  • We can reduce stress by taking a few important decisions:
    • Eliminate the ‘mental virus’ of need. Modern society pressures and expectations make us believe that we need to spend money on a lot of things (most of which we don’t really need).
    • Take the say ‘you are what you eat’ to the next level. Just as we need to choose carefully what we put in our mouths, we need to choose carefully what we let in our environment (e.g. sometimes even watching the news can get you stressed!)
    • Learn to listen. We are constantly bombarded with data – even the wind hitting your face reflects as noise in your brain. Peace is an inside game and we need to learn to calm the chatter in our brain. If you learn to be less reactive to all this noise, you learn to be less reactive to your impulses. This leads to the point below.
    • Use meditation as a preventative tool. Don’t wait until you are stressed to do something about it. Daily meditation can help strengthen the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain which helps us stay cool under pressure and makes it easier to navigate stressful situations.
    • Remember that we are all mortal. When your life is at stake are you going to care about all the little things that are stressing you? Stress has made us forget what it feels like to be vibrantly alive, not just existing… surviving. Do something that scares you every day. There’s nothing like feeling alive to reset your stress levels.

“If the small stuff is getting you down, do greater things.”

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