It's tough to think clearly when you're stressed. Or when you're too busy. Or when you're under pressure or dealing with adversity or facing criticism or...

You get the point.

It's hard enough to make smart decisions and respond logically and rationally to everything that comes our way under the best of circumstances. It's a lot tougher when conditions aren't ideal--and face it, how often are conditions ideal? That's why, according to Matt Church, an award-winning speaker, author, and founder of Thought Leaders Global, it helps to have a few internal dialogue scripts ready to go, small phrases you can rely on to help guide your decisions.

Here are some of Church's mantras:

  • "An insult is no bigger than you allow it to be."
  • "Those who matter don't mind. Those who mind don't matter."
  • "If the answer is not yes, then the answer is no."
  • "If you need a quick answer, then the answer is no."
  • "Don't be sad because it's over. Be glad because it happened."
  • "In the absence of clarity, make a decision."
  • "You don't have to listen to everything you hear."

And here are some questions he asks himself when he's extremely busy:

  • "Is this the best use of my time?"
  • "Is this what we do?"
  • "What would (someone you admire) do?"
  • "What question are we really asking?"
  • "What decision really needs to be made?"
  • "Who is responsible for that?"
  • "What could go wrong with that decision?"

Now: since like some French guy once said, "I am such an egotist that if I were to write about a chair I'd find a way to write about myself," I can't resist sharing some of my favorite mantras (with some explanation, since mine may not be as self-explanatory as Church's):

  • "That smell? That's the smell of job security, boy." My grandfather said that when I was shoveling some long-overdue-for-cleaning and exceptionally, um, fragrant horse stalls. The point: Success often lies in being willing to do what others will not.
  • "We all have limits. But almost no one reaches theirs." You may not be able to run a half-marathon, but if I offered you a million dollars, I feel sure you'd find a way to struggle through all 13 miles. What we think we can do is always--always--less than what we can really do if we really, really try.
  • "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face." Take it from Mike Tyson: Making a plan for what you will do is important, but reacting quickly once the unexpected occurs--and it always does--makes all the difference.
  • "Today's pain is tomorrow's power. The more you suffer today, the stronger you are tomorrow." Or, like soldiers say, "Embrace the suck." Self-pity never helps. Don't quit. Keep moving forward.
  • "It is never too late to be what you might have been." No matter how old you are, no matter how far down a particular path you've traveled, it's never too late to be what you once hoped to be. Never.
  • "Only a genius can do things his way. You? You're no genius." Reinventing the wheel is often unnecessary, especially since there are already plenty of awesome wheels to emulate. Just pick one.
  •  "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son." Words to live by from Dean Wormer: intellectual, philosopher, and leader of men.