Wondering what separates the thrivers from the survivors? We all experience stress in thousands of ways each day, but the way we respond to it is highly variable. Those who respond positively to stress are the ones who succeed. We already showed you three great ways to thrive on stress, and now we’re back with the second installment of this series, which focuses on everything from journaling to taking time to do what you love.
Read on to learn more about how you can use stress to succeed.
It isn’t a coincidence that most successful people in the annals of history have kept a journal. It’s a useful activity that increases resilience, reduces stress, and helps you to concretely see patterns that are either serving you or subverting you.
Writing down the events in your life, whether good or bad, is a positive response that has been scientifically proven to help you thrive in the face of stress.
2. Express Gratitude
One thing that separates thrivers from survivors is their reserves of gratitude. Let’s say that a grateful person and an ungrateful person experience the same stressor, like losing a job. The grateful man can fall back on the good things that he still has in life, such as his family and his health. The grateful man experiences stress, but it doesn’t consume him.
A man who doesn’t practice gratitude will have nothing to fall back on, so his whole world will be consumed by the loss of the job. He becomes a victim of circumstance and does not have the power to change. He may succumb to alcoholism or other forms of escapism to deal with the stress that gratitude would otherwise diffuse.
Gratitude is cultivated through practice. A person isn’t magically grateful when they have all of the things they want; he or she is grateful only when they want the things they have. Remind yourself of the good things you have.
3. Forge strong social connections
Another characteristic that thrivers share is an intimate social network. When times get tough, people who have strong relationships have another buffer from stress in the form of their friends and loved ones. Studies on Romanian orphanages have determined that even if a child has all his or her other needs met, a lack of human connection will cause him or her to struggle.
If a person has an extensive and supportive social network, the loss of a job or family member will be padded so that stress doesn’t rule. Talking with loved ones help us to identify the emotions and respond positively to them. These intimate connections will enable you to respond positively to life’s challenges.
4. Do what you love
Part of the definition for thriving involves doing what you love and loving what you do. General Stanley McChrystal loves exercising. Even though he isn’t in the military anymore, he still wakes up at 4:30 a.m. to work out. Exercise helps him respond positively to life’s challenges.
If you want to thrive on stress, try making a living with your stress-relieving pursuits. Creative pursuits turn stress into constructive, usable energy that not only reduces stress, but also enhances the lives of others.
Thriving on stress is not magic, but it is a function of habit and persistence. Choose positive thoughts during stressful situations. Do what you love, and practice meditation, gratefulness, and mindfulness by connecting deeply with your community and by taking ownership of your thoughts and actions.