Imagine you’re walking down the street, minding your business, enjoying the day. Out of nowhere some over-drugged, under-slept, homeless man comes up to you and starts rambling on about how worthless you are. He calls you some names, he insults your family whom he’s never met, and he makes sure you know that you’re an as*hole. If you’ve ever lived in a city with a significant homeless population, you know this story isn’t a stretch from something that’s likely happened to you before. How would you react to this guy? Would you let it bother you? Would you let it ruin your day? Would you be lying awake at night thinking about the cruel words that guy said?

Of course not.

You’d walk away thinking “that’s one crazy homeless dude” and you’d never think about it again, other than to tell a good story at the bar. Your subconscious mind would have come to the conclusion that this wasn’t worth even ten seconds of emotional distress. And so you move on, going about your day as you were before. Logical, right?

Yet when it comes to other situations in our lives – a difficult boss, a hefty workload, an aggressive driver, or a gossiping friend – that subconscious wall that worked so well with the homeless guy all of the sudden comes crumbling down, and as stress enters our minds, our happiness escapes. Like oil and water, the two simply don’t mix. But do these situations (or “insert any situation causing you stress currently”) denote a higher emotional response than the looney guy on the street? Not necessarily. You see, there are no rules to stress or happiness. There are only the imaginary rules that we tell ourselves we live by. When we tell ourselves that our boss has the power to determine our happiness, that becomes our reality. When we tell ourselves that our friends’ gossip has the power to create stress in our lives, that becomes our reality. The opposite is equally true. When we tell ourselves that we hold the key to our happiness, this becomes our reality. When we tell ourselves that our stress can melt away the second we tell it to, this becomes our reality.

And that, maybe, is the truth about most things in life.

The stories we tell ourselves become the paradigm we view the world through. And that paradigm changes everything. The stories we tell ourselves begin and end with the man in the mirror. What stories are you telling yourself?

Published by Adam Griffin

Adam is an entrepreneur & writer. He is the former founder of Bodeefit, and is the author of Redwood: A Guide to Leading a Remarkable Life. He lives in Denver, CO with his wife and kids.

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