The answer to sustainably reducing your stress lies in a simple shift in perception. When you become aware of how you’re impacting others, you can inspire people to be innovative and productive. And your business and families can thrive.

The first step is being aware that you’re causing stress and then stopping the offending behavior. If enough people became aware they were causing stress simply by this one misunderstanding and brought this awareness to everyday life and work, stress around the globe could actually decrease, which could produce a better world. One small step; one big effect.

The understanding I am speaking about is the concept of time and how this manmade construct may be what’s tripping us up.

The concept of time is fluid, with different people and countries living life at different paces. In Japan, for example, it’s considered rude to be less than 10 minutes early to a meeting. In Mediterranean countries, taking time to get down to business is the norm. The Amazonian hunter-gatherers of Piraha have no concept of time beyond the present and no word for “future.” For them, the future does not exist. In advanced cultures these days, aware people seek to remain in the present. They call it mindfulness, partly because it takes thought and intention to extricate themselves from the past-future construct that has governed their lives.


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There are, of course, adjuncts to time, such as healing time, growing time or, in my case, horse time.

In this country, time seems to have become one of our most precious commodities, its scarcity forcing us to weigh how we spend it and to search for ways to find more of it. “Time is money,” Benjamin Franklin said, and now so do most businesspeople. The problem is, these days, there seems to be less and less time; as a result, seems to be a panic about how this affects money. And stress rises.

Here’s how we stop causing stress, for ourselves and others: Let’s think about energy in lieu of time. How can we use our energy and have more impact? Energy knows no bounds. With energy we can weigh opportunities and the gain each can bring. Rather than “time is money”, focus on the efficient use of energy including our own. Inventions with great impact using small amounts of energy are prized, sought after and paid for dearly. Consider how the computer, which embodies these principles, came into the world with fanfare and stayed to reshape civilization.

Shifting our awareness from time to energy can help us understand why we have so much stress. If we do not feel in control, our stress rises. But how do you control time when everyone’s understanding of time varies? Am I assuming everyone operates at the same speed I do? Do I have any awareness that my tardiness may have caused stress? Promptness is so simple and so absolutely true that you have to wonder why someone hasn’t campaigned for it wholeheartedly in this century.

At its most basic, it’s an act of mindfulness. It shows we understand our impact on other people and that we’re giving them what they need.

When I started studying horses, great horse experts taught me that it takes two days in the equine world for something to happen and that I should allow for that. At first I thought they were joking. They were not. Whatever I do with a horse now, I allow two days. So how does that align with developing and running a business and being present for my family?

By allowing for those two days, my energy is altered. It’s not hurried or hassled. It’s patient. I start by checking my intention and intend that everything will happen harmoniously. I check my assumptions around that. I use less energy overall, which leaves more time to spend with my family, my business or whatever I’d like to spend more time with. Let me repeat that: By stepping aware from a construct of time and shifting instead to a focus of energy –what kind of energy and how I use it – I end up with more time. If time is a precious commodity then the equation and adage can now change from time is money, to energy is money.

What if we applied this stress-management concept to our lives or our businesses?

Here are four simple steps to add to your very next interaction. Notice whether it has an immediate impact on your stress levels and that of the person you are interacting with. Be genuine.

1. When you start any interaction, set this intention: that whatever you are working on will resolve easily. Make sure you are 100% clear about your intention.

2. Include “horse time,” in other words, allow space for the other person to show up as and how they are.

3. Do not be surprised if you feel internal resistance. You are challenging a status quo in your own thinking. Refocus on your intention and noticed if whatever you are working on resolves easily in less time. Intend it.

4. Notice if your stress level decreased. Notice if the other person seems less stressed. Practice this everywhere and pass it on.

Listening to yourself and living in the present can have a major impact on your stress levels. Learn more in our blog about mindfulness.

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