Stressful times are like dark clouds – they block the sun and can make you feel cold and miserable and hopeless. The saying goes “Every cloud has a silver lining” but is it true? And how can you use this idea to manage anxiety?
When anxiety descends like a cloud, our deeper purpose and motivations in life can keep us going strong and feeling good long after others have quit. It turns out that the way your brain frames the world it sees has everything to do with the way you interpret that world – anxiously or calmly. ‘My boss is unreasonable and this job sucks’ is very different from ‘My boss is having a tough time and is taking it out on me lately but after the work is done today, I’m going home to my loving family and they’re the reason why I come to work in the first place’.
Reframing the way you see the stressful people in your life and anxious situations you find yourself in, and especially in the way you see yourself in your struggle against anxiety, can make all the difference in the way you experience it. Searching for (and even creating) the silver lining can change your mindset and shape stressful events into positive ones, allowing the sun to come out despite the stress.
Recent research has been showing that people with a clear purpose and who can find meaning in their daily lives experience less stress, and even live longer. Your brain has evolved to look for meaning in the most meaningless cacophony of events and to emphasize the negative aspects of your experiences, but too many negatives or not finding meaning produces anxiety – it’s a signal that’s meant to prod you into change, and evolutionarily speaking, that would be a good thing. But we were never meant to live in quite the way we do now. By developing eHabits that rewire your brain to notice the positive side of things and stay grounded in meaning and purpose, you can dramatically reduce the anxiety you experience.