A Guide To Stressful Living

A calming pic to de-stress you…

Via the always great Lifehacker, click here for a great guide on how to live a more stressful, less happy life!

Here’s some of my fave bits:

1. Attempt to control absolutely everything

This is one of the more practical ways of achieving high levels of stress, and can be applied in a variety of ways in almost every situation you are likely to encounter. The key to this method is the fact that you never really have much control over anything, and so it generates stress in proportion to your illusion of control and the imagined responsibility you have as a consequence.
(Source: Everyday Wonderland)

Errr… yes. As someone who’s just released a new album where I wrote everything, played everything, recorded, produced, mastered, did the photography, design and issued it on my own label, I think I can relate to the above tip slightly. 😀

And yet, I still find myself wondering if I’m doing enough! I suppose I could always stick a broom up my arse so I can sweep up as I go along…

2. Believe in the possibility of ‘making it’

The concept of arriving somewhere in the future is another very useful and popular source of stress and anxiety, and the illusion of being able to make it in the world is upheld and added to via magazines, television, movies, and whatever medium used to display how ‘the others’ go about living their lives.
(Source: Everyday Wonderland)

Like most musicians, I used to be guilty of this. When I first started songwriting, twenty-four years ago, I used to have elaborate fantasies where I’d get a call from a major label. They would fall at my feet, at last acknowledging my infinite genius. And then I’d go on to have an international number one and sell hundreds of thousands of records.

Well, the last part came true but only because I stopped fantasising and started living in reality. I only achieved my teenage dream (at thirty!) when I gave up on trying to be what I thought major labels wanted and instead made music totally for myself, music that I was proud of.

As I always say, most musicians seem to waste their entire lives waiting for permission to make music, waiting for the false validation of a record contract. Why wait? Now, more than at any other time in history, it’s possible for artists to make their art and find an audience. I’m not saying you’ll make millions but at least you’ll make great music.

And then there’s the vicious circle of status:

It’s the reason why people spend most of their time working for the purpose of accumulating more things, and then their free time on trying hard to extract as much satisfaction as possible from these things in order to justify the means of attaining them. To be caught in this upward spiral of more and more work for more and more sensory satisfaction is what characterizes the affluent parts of our culture, and the potential for stress on this path is endless, simply because more is never enough. Never has been, never will be.
(Source: Everyday Wonderland)

Yep, been there, done that (and probably still doing it in some ways). I’d also add that the central motor of Western living is self-medication. Or, as I said in this rant from seven years ago:

It’s a vicious circle:

I’ve got a shit job/life —> so I blot it out every weekend by getting wasted —> which costs fucking loads —> so I need to do this shit job to get the money to get wasted…

The logical thing would be to break the cycle. Whether it’s alcohol, coke or a new car to show off to the neighbours, these things are all monkeys on our backs. We think of them as signs of achievement, badges of luxury but in reality they’re heavy chains weighing us down. Bear in mind I’m not being holier-than-thou here: I’ve wasted so much money on gadgets and gimmicks, things that I thought would make me happy but never did.

I even had a phase where I’d get panicky in shops if I couldn’t find anything to buy. I’d walk around, getting more and more nervous, looking for something, anything that would satisfy my shopping craving. I’m not that bad now but those one-click buttons on websites are still calling out to me…

4. Emphasize yourself

There are many ways of inflating your sense of self, and the reason this is of interest to us here is because emphasizing your personal identity can be an excellent source of stress. These include defending your position, making sure you are always right and fighting whoever dares question it; demanding respect and admiration, making sure everyone around you knows who you are and why it’s important…
(Source: Everyday Wonderland)

I’m saying nowt! 🙂

And finally:

5. Be more and have more

At the core, all of the above ideas can be summed up in a single method: simply convince yourself that you need more than you have at any given moment, and you will be able to maintain a steady feeling of anxiety throughout the day. This can be a feeling of needing to become more than you already are, or needing to have more than you have now (which are actually one and the same), and can be felt more generally as a perpetual sense of lack.
(Source: Everyday Wonderland)

If you don’t recognise yourself in the above quotes at all, I envy you! I’ve spent so much of my life worrying about money, status and what other people think of me. I wish I could have those hours back and spend them just sitting on a hill, looking at the sky. Y’know, something actually worthwhile rather than that endless, futile worrying.

Please have a read of the full article, linked above. There’s a lot to digest there and, for me, a lot that’s uncomfortably familiar.

But, hey, don’t get too stressed about it! 😀