Some forms of stress are necessary--especially if we want to stimulate creativity and new learning.
Others bring no benefit at all and serve only to prevent us from being effective or successful.
Here's a list of a dozen of the worst sources of bad stress. Shut them out of your life starting today, and you'll find that you're more productive, calmer, and happier.
Procrastination. There's nothing more stressful than having something weigh on you until the very last minute, followed by the panic of not being certain you can get it done. If you want to make an easy job seem hard and make sure you don't do it as well as you could, keep putting it off. Procrastination is the top form of self-sabotage.
Clutter. Clutter derives from the middle English word clotter, and it definitely clots our ability to function well. When you tolerate clutter, you're allowing yesterday's junk to interfere with your ability to reach what you need in the present. Find simplicity and order and you'll find opportunities for growth.
Negativity. Negativity is an incredibly destructive force--and in a world where we're barraged with negative information, it's easy to be lured in. But to give negativity a place gives it power. Make it a habit to focus on the on the positive side of things. You may not be able to change events, but with a positive mindset you can change perceptions and outcomes.
Comparisons. It's in our nature to look at what others have and see how we measure up, but it's a pointless exercise since there will always be someone with more and someone with less. It distracts you from the only comparison that's valid--between yourself and your goals. Stop comparing and find your strength.
Perfectionism. Anyone who's suffered from perfectionism knows that it doesn't make you better but leads to disappointment and ultimately failure. Focus on doing what you do well with excellence, which is much more motivating than perfectionism.
Dishonesty. To tolerate dishonesty--from others or from yourself--is one of the most stressful things you can do to yourself. Lies may seem to smooth things out in the moment, but ultimately they do nothing but create complications and anxiety.
Mediocrity. Everyone wants to feel they measure up to standards, but tolerating mediocrity leaves no room for greatness. When mediocrity is accepted, excellence, uniqueness, and true success die a painful death. Aspire to excellence, always.
Guilt. Guilt weighs us down and crushes us. It's tremendously stressful whether it's deserved or not. Guilt never feeds us or nourishes us toward what we want. Make your choices and live with them--you may feel regret at some things, and resolve not to repeat them, but don't allow guilt to take hold.
Excuses. Excuses may come in handy when you don't want to do something, but they also keep you from doing the things that you are meant to do. If it's important, then sack the excuses and find a way to make it happen. Excuses never moved anyone closer to their goals.
Enmity. The essence of enmity is insecurity, which appears we are unhappy with ourselves and causes great stress. But if we tolerate hostility and lead with anger, we alienate others and separate ourselves from our own potential. Enmity comes from clinging to negative experiences, so choose to move on instead of hanging back in anger.
Rejection. When we interpret rejection as not being good enough, it's bound to create stress. But like failure, rejection is often a necessary step to the pursuit of success. If you've never been rejected, your goals probably aren't ambitious enough.
Defeat. How stressful it is to feel defeated. But it's possible to experience failure without defeat. Everyone fails at some point, but instead of being defeated and allowing your failures define who you are, use them as a guide to better yourself and improve your odds of success next time.