By Dr. Russ
1) Look at the Big Stuff
Before you get too stuck in the day-to-day negative trivia, step back and thank God for all the wonderful achievements here on earth. Three biggies for me are: We have been to the moon; we no longer have to suffer Polio, and we can communicate instantly with anyone around the globe.
2) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Small stuff is at worst mildly annoying – “Keep it in perspective” and have some fun and humor with it. I was nicknamed “Rusty” to differentiate me from my father for whom I was named. My family, to my chagrin, called me that “childhood name” into my adulthood. But, perhaps I learned a useful coping skill. Many times in my life, I have met someone who later calls me by a completely different name, say “Clarence.” Instead of being upset that someone forgot my name, my response is mild amusement, particularly when someone else points out that I am not a "Clarence" but a "Russ." I think to myself what it would be like to have the name Clarence and whether I would have led to a different self-image.
3) Don’t Complain - Work Harder
Complaining without solving the problem is a form of learned helplessness. If you find yourself complaining, do an in-the-moment thought check, then look at the glass-- in that moment you are seeing it as half empty. Now, focus away from your complaint to possible solutions, the glass becomes half full again. You have a path, a way forward to solving your problem. I can’t change the weather, but I can get out my “rainy day activity list” and have some fun.
4) Treat the Disease - Not the Symptoms
I tell people there are two kinds of stress: That which is real, like being in debt, and that which is “made up in their head,” like worrying about how lonely one will feel when their 3 and 5 year old children grow up and leave home. Real stress requires problem identification and solving. Made-up stress requires a “positive attitude adjustment.” Identify which type of stress you have and take the appropriate action.
5) Don’t obsess over what people think
When we ask ourselves what someone else is thinking about us it is usually because we are worried they are thinking something negative about us – a “Glass Half-Empty” thought. I have often said that wondering what someone else is thinking about me is a form of egocentrism. To counteract this egocentrism, I think to myself, “Why would anyone be thinking about me any way? They have enough of their own issues to think about in any given moment of a day.” Now my “Glass is Half-Full Again.”