A Teenager’s Perspective on Stress and Anxiety

By Gabriele White

Many teenagers get stressed out before tests or presentations in front of their peers.  It’s true that nearly every high school student goes through this. It is not true that this response has to take control and overwhelm you. Stress in these situations is self-induced and can be controlled by your own positive thoughts and actions. Believe in yourself and stay positive.

You can reduce your stress in many ways.  You can accept that you can’t change the way things happen or what people think of you.  You can prepare more for the test and you can choose not to panic or let the stress take over your thoughts.  Many teenagers become so focused on the story, “oh, I lm stressed” that they create increasingly more stress. In reality, if you tell yourself, I can do this and take it one step at a time you will be able to manage the stress and end up more successful and happier.

Teenagers tend to struggle with the concept of taking responsibility for their actions. They never think it’s their fault for putting everything off until the last moment.  They believe that the teacher shouldn’t have assigned such a dumb project.

Take responsibility for your actions.  More and more often you see teenagers blame their failures on others.  Not even other people but other objects too.  A lot of the times kids start believing that it really was “Sandra’s fault for not giving me the pencil so I couldn’t take the test” or “it’s my math teacher’s fault for not teaching.”  But let’s get real; you should have brought a pencil to class.  I mean it’s annoying Sandra didn’t give you a pencil, but it’s your fault for not coming prepared, and your math teacher is a teacher for a reason. She went through 4 years of training for this and I’m sure she’s doing better than most people would.  When you fail a math test, it’s your fault. When you screw up and get caught cheating, stealing, or doing something you shouldn’t be doing, it’s your fault. This may seem obvious to some people, but not to others. You have to admit it’s your fault and realize that consequences come with every decision.  You may not like them or want them, but they will help you learn and grow from these experiences.  Once you’ve done this and accepted the blame and failure, you’re no longer a victim. You can take control of your life and your feelings.

People feel pressure to always be in touch and posting online.  I mean, if it’s not on Snapchat did it really happen? Social media influences us to fit into society by being perfect and cool and funny and smart.  This can be stressful, overwhelming and lead to bad decisions, but we still check Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter during every free moment.

Whenever we go online we automatically start comparing ourselves to the beautiful filter covered photos. For me I know get jealous seeing all my friends on Snapchat hanging out while I’m practicing sports or just at home with my family. Some people would say this give you “anxiety and stress”. If that’s the case then maybe it’s time to put the phone down.

Snapchat is a great example of how technology controls us.  It makes me feel like I must Snapchat every day so I don’t lose my streaks.  Once I ran out of data and it was really stressful because I didn’t want to lose my streaks.  Rather than a choice, it became a burden. Once I stopped, I found that losing my streaks made me feel better, almost freed.

Also, don’t define your best friends by the list of 7 people you snapchat the most. Snapchat who you want to Snapchat; and don’t worry if they aren’t who you hang out with. Don’t let this computer generated list define your life.

I recently noticed that I have touched my phone every day for nearly 2 years.  Yet I am not sure I have hugged my parents or brothers or anyone every day of those two years.  Also, my phone has seen my face for a longer period of time than any one person. Our phones have become the center of our lives .

We use them to connect with people who are hundreds of miles away from us. As cool as that is, there’s actually people who are less than 20 feet away from us who are perfectly capable of having a conversation in person. I believe many teenagers do not realize that our body’s already have this connection feature and it doesn’t cost extra or take time to install.

I am not saying that having a phone or social media is bad.  I ‘m just saying if you allow it to control your life, you miss out on more personal connections.  You become a victim of technology rather than allowing technology to enhance connection. We are allowing our phones to consume us. While reading this, you’ve probably gotten 3 new notifications, and you may have even stopped to read them or at least check to see if they were important.

Appreciate where you are in life and who you have around because eventually they won’t be there anymore. My family consists of five people; me, my two older brothers and my parents. One of the hardest things lately is that my two older brothers are moving out of the house. I never thought the day would come.  They will always still be children, even if legally they are considered adults. I’ve been scrambling to absorb every detail of these last years.  I don’t want to forget what it was like rushing, pushing, and shoving as we race up the stairs to bed. I realized that not one of these memories came from my phone through Snapchat.

Stop wishing you were somewhere else with someone else. If you aren’t where you want to be, then change it. If social media brings you down then put it down. Make real life memories. Stop letting the virtual reality become your only reality.

Throughout your life you will face hardships, but you have to persevere. Don’t give up because life is difficult. You can’t expect a great life to be handed to you; you’ve got to work for it.  This has been said many times, but it hasn’t sunk in for many of us. So I am saying it again.  You are in control of your life. You decide what to do with the difficult times. Don’t give in to stress and anxiety.  Take responsibility, make good choices and fight through it.

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Lesson #26 – Keep Track of Who Signed up for What

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.

At every meeting and through email when we weren’t having meetings, Alexia would ask each of us about our deliverables. She usually took notes on the agendas and wrote down what everyone was responsible for. She always knew what we needed to do and checked in to confirm it had been done. We felt accountable to deliver for her each week. Several of our team members had other priorities and if Alexia hadn’t stayed on top of it, they would not have put in the time to work on the PLP stuff.     Austin Hatcher

 

Lesson: Keep track of who signed up for what.

A simple step for being an organized leader is writing down the actions each person has agreed to take and by when they will be completed. This small task keeps the teams on track and helps ensure the team is actually accomplishing something vs. just meeting, talking, and coming up with great ideas, but then not getting anything done. As a leader, “Inspect what you expect.” If you expect a team member to accomplish a task, you have to inspect whether they are on track for completion. There will be a few members who don’t need the reminders, but the rest will welcome your help.

 

Opportunity: Determine how you will you track assignments at your next meeting.

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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Is Your Chase for Success Killing You?

On August 15th, 2013, Moritz Erhardt, an intern working for Bank of America in London, died from complications created by working three days straight without sleep. He was doing a “turnaround,” which consists of an employee working all night, taking a cab home at 6 am, asking the cab to wait while he gets a quick shower and change of clothes, then hopping back in the cab to go back to work. He never got back in the cab. He was found dead in his shower. What happened?

Moritz’s death is a dramatic and immediate example of how our culture encourages many people to blindly chase success while being oblivious to the negative impacts it has on their happiness, on their health, and in certain cases on their lives. For most people these things develop over decades. The signs are there, but they are much more subtle and obscure.

I have worked with dozens of people over the past decade who speak about, research, and live happiness and success. We have analyzed definitions of success collected from hundreds of  people and found that most contained the word “happiness,” or at least concepts related to happiness. Most people connect success and happiness in their minds but have difficulty making the connection in their actions. Much like Moritz, only to a lesser degree, they pursue success single-mindedly, with the expectation that they will be happy once they achieve success; and that the more success they achieve, the happier they will be. Unfortunately that formula is backwards.

Success doesnt lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Personally, I have been in business settings for over 35 years, and I have seen hundreds of examples of people working hard and unwittingly sacrificing happiness in pursuit of success, which they think will make them happy. It starts out innocently enough–not having time to go out with friends, not getting home in time for dinner with a spouse or kids, not having time to exercise or pursue a fulfilling hobby–but soon amounts to missing positive moments in life because they are busy trying to build a life that will be full of positive moments.

The drawback doesn’t reveal itself until 5 or 10 years down the road, when a goal set early on has been achieved (a raise, a promotion, or a nice car); but for some reason, the satisfaction and fulfillment that were supposed to accompany the goal…don’t. I have seen both men and women break down crying from the stress of wanting to give 100% in their work, yet feeling sad and unfulfilled because they were missing time with their new baby or significant other. Have you ever met someone who felt they’d missed their biggest opportunity? It’s sad. Because missing important moments in your life leads to stress, and stress leads to unhappiness, disease, and a host of other challenges.

One example is a woman I worked with. Her name was Tina.

Tina was poised and confident, the kind of person that her peers wanted to emulate and every manager wanted to hire. She showed great leadership and had tremendous success early in her career. Five years, two promotions, and one baby later, she was sitting in a restaurant, tears streaming down her face from the stress of trying desperately to be successful in so many areas of her life while wondering what happened to the promise of happiness. She is one of hundreds of examples that played out in many different ways, but always had the same root cause. The long hours of hard work and dedication were never paid off with happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction. They only led to more long hours and hard work in trying to reach the next goal, which itself was supposed to lead to happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

Let me say it again: Success doesnt lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

 

The challenge is that people get caught up in an ambitious chase for success and unwittingly delay or even bypass their opportunities for happiness with the belief that happiness would come after the project was finished, after the next promotion, after the next big bump in salary, or after they land that next perfect job. Too often, it doesn’t come as expected, and they end up forever looking over the horizon believing that happiness is just over the next hill. Those I have observed who did find happiness made simple, uncomplicated choices and changes in their lives. They found the secrets of happiness, and as a result, also became much more successful in the process.

 

Do you think your chase for success will lead to happiness?

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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Happiness Hack #69 Strengthen Positive Relationships with Creative Gratitude

happiness_creative #69

 

Two of the strongest recurring themes in happiness research are showing gratitude and positive relationships. You can engage both themes at once by improving your relationships through creative expressions of your gratitude.

 

5 Ideas for Creative Gratitude:

 

  1. Send a picture or video. With today’s smart phones, taking a quick photo or video with you showing your appreciation can be done in less than a minute. The recipient will be excited and will most likely share their joy with someone else nearby.
  2. Write a personal note on the nearest writing surface you can find. For example; a napkin in a restaurant, a whiteboard in their office, or a post-it note. They will appreciate the spontaneity and especially like the idea that you are thinking of them as you go through your busy day.
  3. Share your talents. We all have a hobby or something we are good at or known for.  Share some of your famous brownies or help them fix something around their house or office.  Use your special skills to show appreciation.
  4. Share your story. Explain to them why you appreciate them with a personal story of how their presence has impacted you. Knowing specifically how they were able to make your day a little better will create a special kind of confidence and happiness.
  5. Pay it forward. Tell them how they inspired you to share your gratitude with a 3rd Let them know that their good deeds are spreading into the world and helping others be happy.

 

Showing gratitude in even the smallest ways improves happiness and builds stronger relationships for everyone involved.  Find ways to creatively express your gratitude and you will have stronger relationships that help you become happier and more successful.

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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Lesson #45 – Offer Your Gift of Leadership to Those Who Might Get Left Behind

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.

 

Ray,

Today has been quite a day! I woke up this morning with a horrible headache so I went back to sleep for a bit. I then got up and got some more of my project done before heading off to class. I then had SD office hours where I went over my SD Scorecard with Rachel and had a very productive conversation! I also spoke with Tina some more. She should have reached out to you tonight. She was hoping to sit in with our meeting tomorrow after PLP but I told her to email you and get your okay as well. That way, like you said, it really is her making the first step. After office hours, I went with a friend and got a massage, which was very helpful in alleviating my headache! I then came home, worked the front desk, did a little work out, showered, and am now off to bed feeling great about an all around productive day!

Can’t wait to meet with you tomorrow!

Alexia

 

Lesson: Offer your gift of leadership to those who might get left behind.

Alexia made sure everyone was taken care of. One of the girls in her group, Tina (I changed the name to protect her privacy), was struggling with time management, participation, and concern about what happens after college. She was overwhelmed by school and all her activities. Alexia took special time to work with her on her goals, and assembled a team of mentors and friends to consult with her, and then Alexia coached her on a daily and weekly basis. She kept the team informed of Tina’s progress and made herself available until Tina was able to successfully graduate.

As a leader you won’t have time to take care of everyone and various followers will drop out of the team for their own personal reasons; but it is worthwhile to evaluate whether someone can be helped, and with a few nudges from you, get back on track. Reach out for help from others and don’t try to do it all alone. Offer to help the person in need, but don’t try to force them to do anything or even expect they will respond. Your leadership is a gift. They may or may not decide to accept your gift. They may not want to take advantage of the opportunities you provide them. But offer your gift of leadership any-way. Helping one person get back on track will make it all worthwhile.

 

Opportunity: Think about who needs a little nudge and a little help from you to be successful.

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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How Happy and Successful Do You Feel?

Most people feel relatively happy and successful, and at the same time are looking to become even happier and more successful. It is natural to feel like there is more and to want to move to that next level. It is an instinct that helped our ancestors survive and prosper. The challenge is that many of us don’t know what steps to take to become happier and more successful, or we don’t know the correct steps. See if you identify with any of the examples below.

Have you ever woken up to the alarm and hit the snooze button too many times because you just didn’t want to get out of bed and go to work? Have you ever had that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach where you can’t imagine going back into that office and facing that sadistic supervisor who seems to want to make your life miserable? What about that crazy manager in the other department who makes your life difficult just because she can?

Have you ever left the office at 8 or 9 pm with four more hours of work to do and three impossible deadlines for the next day? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed you wanted to cry or hide somewhere? These feelings can be especially confusing, given that six months ago you were on top of the world and everything was going great. Sometimes we feel as if we are on top of the mountain; at other times, down in a deep valley. What’s going on?

Have you ever worked and worked and worked to get a promotion or raise you deserve, been really excited for about 30 days, and then wondered when the next raise or promotion would come? Have you ever gotten your life perfectly in line with your dreams, had everything on track, and then sat back and asked the question, “Why don’t I feel happy? I should feel happy; what’s wrong with me?”

Have you ever felt like what you did just didn’t seem to matter and wasn’t as important as what everyone else was doing? Have you felt like no matter how hard you tried you just couldn’t make a difference? Does it ever seem like you are constantly banging your head against a wall and nothing ever changes?

These feelings are all natural and are indications that, armed with a little more information, you can take steps to become happier and more successful. As part of our culture, we learn to chase success as an end result rather than a daily habit. We are taught that the reward for success is happiness, and some day we will get to be happy if we just fight through and spend enough time being unhappy.

Happiness and success are connected. They are intertwined in our actions, but they are not a pinnacle we reach. They are daily habits and practices. They are small things we choose to do every day that eventually lead to milestones of success along a journey that lasts our entire lives. The antidote to the feelings described above is to choose positive actions every day that will help us feel contented and fulfilled, that will help us feel like we matter and can make a difference, and that will help us feel hopeful and excited to get up every morning.

Research also clearly indicates that happier people are healthier, have better relationships, and are more successful. Stress kills. So the antidote to stress, which is the cause for many health challenges, is happiness.

The good news is that there are steps you can take, and choices you can make, to be happier.

ConnectingHappinessandSuccess.com

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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Happiness Hack #68 Pattern Recognition is the Key to Happiness

happiness_pos_neg #68

Your brain is a pattern recognition machine. It takes thousands of tiny patterns and assembles them to form bigger patterns which you recognize as thoughts and memories.  Your memories are connected to still other patterns that evoke your feelings. Our brain evolved with a bias towards negative patterns so we could quickly recognize danger and when we should be extra cautious. As a result, we tend to accumulate more patterns associated with negative feelings rather than patterns associated with positive feelings.  This negative bias can impact our happiness.

The good news is you can change which feelings are associated with which patterns. For example your thought patterns about work may evoke negative feelings due to a myriad of negative experiences that have occurred throughout your career. But there are also positive experiences at work. With a little effort you can change the pattern connections in your brain about work from the negative experiences and feelings to the positive experiences and feelings.

The next time you find yourself dreading going to work or getting that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, stop and recall the things at work that make you happy. Getting to see your friends, completing an important project, and making a valuable contribution as a team member are all positive feelings that you can connect to your thought patterns to replace the negative feelings. Focus on how the positive experiences made you feel, particularly in a work setting.

Another option is to go to lunch with your friends or sit down with your spouse and talk about all the things you like about work and how positive they make you feel.  It may take 5 or 6 of these sessions before the connections start to switch from negative to positive, but over time you will notice a difference as your thought patterns about work become reconnected to your positive feelings.

The same processes can work for relationships, getting stuck in traffic, and many other patterns that evoke negative feelings.

Once you learn how to reconnect the patterns in your brain to positive feelings, you will be happier and more successful.

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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Lesson #31 – Make Time for Yourself

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.

 

Ray,

This weekend was exactly what I needed! I was able to spend some time with my friends and my family, as well as get some work done! I was able to spend some time getting my to do list put together and making a plan for the week so that I can get as much done as possible! In addition, I was able to spend some quality “me” time and tons of playing with my dog time! I am feeling very refreshed and ready to go for the week!

See you in the morning!

Alexia

 

Ray,

Today has been a good day! I got up and had my classes then PLP office hours where I got a lot done! (I also have the jump drive Rachel wants me to give you with a copy of your presentation on it.) Afterwards, I had some productive homework time! I continued to try your tips (changing scenery, taking breaks filled with movement, fresh air, and me time, etc). It seems to really be helping me stay productive when I’m working and relaxed during my breaks. And getting out of my room I think has helped my productivity the most!

To add to good news, I have breakfast plans and a massage with Shannon in the morning! So hopefully, tomorrow will be an even better day! Talk to you soon!

Alexia

Lesson: Make time for yourself.

One of the keys to being a good leader is setting a good example and taking care of yourself. Unfortunately, none of us has an unlimited supply of energy. We need to pause and renew. We need to pull back from the world and take care of ourselves so we can be prepared and full of the energy we need to help others. Make time each day to focus on your health. Take time to renew your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy. Go for a walk or call a friend. Rather than sitting at your desk all day, get up and take a walk or find a change of scenery. Go outside and get some fresh air. Take time for a pleasant meal and conversation with friends and family. Take a few moments to contemplate and write down your dreams or the things in life you are grateful for. Make time for yourself to renew your energy and you will find an abundance of energy to lead others.

Opportunity: Schedule some “me” time.

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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Happiness is a Daily Habit

“Happiness is not in our circumstances, but in ourselves. It is not something we see, like a rainbow, or feel, like the heat of a fire. Happiness is something we are”        John B. Sheerin

We want to be content, and we believe that getting that big house, promotion, or raise will be the thing that makes us feel fulfilled. Unfortunately, it is not achieving those goals that provides contentment. It is actually the daily process of working toward those goals that results in contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment. It is not what we ultimately achieve, but what we achieve every day.

It doesn’t work to try to be eventually happy or eventually successful. Life is better if we can find happiness and success every day in our daily adventures. Like John Sheerin mentioned above, happiness is something we are. The nice house will not bring contentment; it is simply a milestone on our daily journey to be happy and successful. The contentment comes from the satisfaction of knowing how much hard work and grit we put in on a daily basis to get the house. The roadblock to happiness and success is not in wanting to reach these milestones. It is that we are waiting for success and happiness rather than implementing it and experiencing it every day.

You can learn habits and techniques that will help you practice happiness every day.

 

ConnectingHappinessandSuccess.com

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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Happiness Hack #67 – To Be Happier, Sit Up Straight

happiness_straight #67

 

Your posture can impact how you think and feel about yourself.  It even has impacts on your hormone levels associated with resisting disease and your ability to lead. Sitting up straight has been shown to increase your number of positive thoughts and memories, reduce stress, and improve your mood. Standing up straight with your shoulders wide increases your confidence, ability to lead and make tough decisions, and overall can help you be more successful.

How you carry yourself matters. Not surprisingly, skipping through the halls with your head straight and facing forward will increase your energy levels while a slow shuffle with your head down will decrease them.

 

So sit up straight, stand tall and confident, skip or move energetically when you can, and take a few minutes to stretch when you can’t.  Don’t forget to smile. These actions will help you be more confident, lower your stress, bring on more positive thoughts and memories, give you more energy, and most importantly help you be happier.

 

 

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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