In his book A Life Worth Breathing, Max Strom makes it simple.
'Relax Your Life.'
A not so difficult to understand sentence that can have an immediate impact.
I can stress about anything. My job is not a very hard one. I am not a brain surgeon, I don't have to deal with people who would die without my care, and I don't have to drive a bus/fly a plane with loads of children on it. But I still stress.
'Oh no, the phone is ringing.'
'Oh no, there are 14 new messages in my inbox.'
'Did I put those invoices in the right folder?'
'What is the best time to call that woman back?'
'I want to go on a holiday. When do I ask my boss?'
Relax Your Life. I try to remember Strom's words whenever I start to panic over my stapler and a pile of paper or when I forgot another password. Relax Your Life.
It is simple. You are always allowed to relax your life. Because why not? To relax is always better.
In ANY GIVEN CIRCUMSTANCE it is better to relax. When you are a indeed a brain surgeon, when you are giving birth, meeting your in laws or when you are involved in a really difficult game of chess, RELAX.
Professional chess player Magnus Carlsen showed me this. I watched a documentary about his (childhood) life, his family, and of course his game of chess. In 2013, he played the finals of the World Championship. He beat Viswanathan Anand from India, who had been the world champion from 2007-2013. They played ten games. The first four, I watched Magnus Carlsen looking anxious, stressed and tense. He didn't play his best game. The first four games all ended in a draw. Then there was a day of rest. I saw Carlsen hang out with his family. They spent the day in the sun at the pool, laughing and playing. After that day, when Carlsen and Viswanathan started their fifth game, I could see how Carlsen was no longer a nervous wreck, he was relaxed and he was in very good spirits. And he won this fifth game! And he kept going and won the championship! This is something to remember. Whatever you do, do it with a relaxed approach. With a smile. Tomorrow in the office I'll smile when the copier refuses to spit out my paper.