In this, the final installment of my four-part article on peace of mind, I’m going to share with you two anti-stress techniques that are especially important. In fact, I don’t believe it’s possible to achieve a low stress level and peace of mind without them.
Resist the temptation to try to make the world bend to your will.
Trying to get everyone to do things your way goes beyond stress. It’s a frustrating, hopeless exercise that can drive a person mad. I know one wealthy individual, in particular, who long ago lost his ability to think rationally because of his frustration over not being able to force everyone around him to conform to his way of thinking.
One of the rules of a good delegator is to tell people precisely what you want them to do, then let them do it their way. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said that the mark of a good executive is when someone hands him a letter that he knows he could have written better, he signs it anyway.
This is an area where you have to be careful, even when dealing with your own children. While it’s a parent’s responsibility to teach and guide his/her children, the wise parent learns early on that children cannot and will not do everything exactly as their parents want them to. The reality is that your children are different human beings than you, so it would be unnatural for them to mirror you 100 percent of the time.
Maintaining control of your anger and resentment.
It’s worth repeating Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous words: “For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” The late Jim Blanchard, founder of the New Orleans Investment Conference, was a great teacher for me in this respect. Jim was one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever known. A paraplegic from the age of eighteen, he not only built a fortune while working from a wheelchair, he traveled the world extensively and did almost everything “normal” people do — and more.
I remember Jim once telling me about a guy who had shafted him out of a lot of money. I asked how he could be so calm about it, and I’ll never forget his response: “I’ve found that it’s disarming just to smile, be polite, and act as though nothing is wrong. Not only do you avoid making enemies by handling things in this manner, you also save yourself a lot of aggravation. All you need to do is avoid doing business with that person in the future. And to the extent you are cordial, he’ll probably even sing your praises to everyone — which means you win all the way around.”
I admit that Jim was special when it came to handling people, but his words help me to this day. Whenever I become angry, I give myself time to cool off before saying or doing something that I might later regret.
For example, if I impulsively write an e-mail in a heated state of mind, I let it sit for a day or two before sending it. It’s amazing how much of the angry edge you can take off an e-mail or letter by editing it a couple of days after you write it.
One last thing worth thinking about when it comes to achieving peace of mind. In his book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra maintains that worrying about stress is more damaging than stress itself. Which brings me back to something I said in Part I of this article: It is not events that shape your world, it is your thought processes. Remember, no matter how long a list of stress inhibitors you compile, your mental state will always be the most important factor when it comes to achieving peace of mind.