[This post is part of a series on “Mental models and beliefs: an exercise to identify yours.” If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
Do you wish you were born in easier times, when life wasn’t so competitive? When life was easier? The media always talks about today’s razor-thin margins, terrorism, and so on. We have so many things to worry about today. Who can keep up with the pace of change?
Who wouldn’t feel anxious and wish for the good old days?
Today’s model undermines that disappointment in today, thinking the old days were less stressful.
A model to help you stay calm and ward off anxiety: Today is no more stressful than any other time
When you recognize that stress doesn’t come from the outside world, it comes from you wanting the world to be one way when it’s another (a belief, like any other), you realize today isn’t any more stressful than any time before.
You measure your times by your standards, which make today seem the most exciting — a euphemism for stressful. They measured their times by their standards and probably found their times the most exciting.
Many of the main things that stress you today existed then — difficult relationships, concern about money, not having time to do important things, and so on. Most things you think of as uniquely stressful to our times caused stress then too. Technology seems to move fast now, but it did then too — they just didn’t have us to compare themselves to. Neither do we have tomorrow’s people to compare ourselves to.
Meanwhile, they had things we can’t think of then. They didn’t have anaesthesia or countless other things we take for granted.
The main issue is how you handle the world not being how you want. People who couldn’t reconcile things then were miserable, just as today. Those who could were happy. They didn’t have more or less than you do today to handle the differences.
When someone tries to cause you stress or you feel miserably unlucky you live in such an unlucky time, consider you might not. You may live in as normal a time as any.
If you think people then could enjoy life, you can find how to enjoy your life. Look for the things you think they had that you wish you did and I’m sure you’ll find them in your world — probably family, friends, hobbies, the beauty of nature, improving yourself. Think of the distractions you wish you could avoid and you can probably find ways to avoid them if others did. Or if you can’t, you can probably find something that annoyed them as much that if they could deal with it you can too.
When I use this belief
I use this belief when someone tries to imply my world is stressful, often reporters or someone in the media.
What this belief replaces
This belief replaces allowing others to create stress in my life with calmness and more self-control.
This belief replaces my thinking I live in a special time with believing I live in an ordinary time.
Where this belief leads
This belief leads to enjoying life more and greater resilience to problems bringing you down.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees