How to Completely Eliminate Stress from your Life - Live Stress Free and Be Happy

I just received a phone call from a very good friend of mine that I've known my entire life.  I haven't heard from him much in the past few years so I was a bit surprised to see his name on my caller ID.  He had mentioned a book that I gave him as a present 10 years ago, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and it's All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.  My sister had given me that very same book shortly before that, and it's funny to see how little gestures like that can completely change someone's life and even trickle down to affecting their friends as well.

It's actually a very good book and a great place to start, but obviously that alone wasn't enough to solve all of his problems.

I never considered myself a Stress-Free expert but I guess out of everyone I know I do tend to live with the least amount of stress so here is the advice I gave him.  I'm writing it here so I can share it for everyone else's benefit but also so I can add onto it and send him the link.

Three Simple Steps to Eliminate 85% of the Stress in your Life:

1.  Write down everything that you are grateful for.  

I've always heard of this foo-foo gratitude journal b.s. but never believed in it until I heard it from two successful people, both who didn't seem like that the type that would do something like this.  It wasn't until my buddy Nic forced me to sit down and write it out that I spent the 5 minutes to really appreciate all of the good things in my life such as great friends, good health, family, etc etc.  

To do: Just write down in a notebook everything you are grateful for.  Do this right now.

2. Write down everything that pisses you off.

One of the biggest changes to my relationships with my parents is when I sat down and wrote them separate, personal letters.  I started off the letters with everything that I assumed they already knew but I have never really said out loud like, thank you for giving birth to me and working difficult jobs to support me.  I know it was hard raising me and I appreciate x, y, and z.  Then I went ahead and told them everything they did that I felt was holding me back, things that I didn't like and things that pissed me off.  Even if you never send your parents this letter, the simple fact of writing it out helps greatly.  I mailed mine and the next time I saw dad who grew up as a General's son, who never heard his dad ever say the words "I love you" who has never said them to me in any language, said it to me for the first time.  

His voice croaked while muttering it, and I could tell how difficult it was for him to say, and I always knew he loved me, but hearing it really made an impact.  

From that day forward, every time my mom or dad did something that would really piss me off, I wrote them a letter explaining why in detail.  Then I never mentioned it again.  This helped by taking the emotion out of it and being able to communicate it without fighting.   

To do: Write a letter to everyone who pisses you off, sit on it for a few days and give yourself time to edit it or to decide it really wasn't a big deal in the first place and throw it away.

3. Write down a To-Do list and keep it updated:

I used to use the notepad on my computer or phone but physically writing things out by hand on paper makes a huge difference.  The best feeling in the world is going back and crossing out things that you've completed and seeing a huge list of DONE items.  By writing out a to do list, not only does it help you focus and get things completed but it also eliminates stress by allowing you to not think about it anymore.  

I also write out on a separate page my dream line which is more of a long term to-do list.  Thanks to Kurt for showing me how to do this correctly.  By setting long term (6-12 month) goals you give yourself a direction you want to point in life and it's much easier to achieve.   

To do: Write down your short term and long term to-do lists in a notebook, like the one I use with Snow White snorting coke. =)

Lifestyle Changes to Eliminate Stress:

A big part of me living a stress free life has been designing my lifestyle to facilitate living stress free.  It's not by accident and I didn't get lucky.  In 2008 before I started this journey I lived in one of the most traffic heavy cities in the world, had a crazy $1,500 monthly rent to pay, had a high stress job and 50 emails a day to respond to.  My life was filled with stress and stressful things.

Now I live almost completely stress free.  And to get started all I did were those three things above.  So if you haven't already taken out a notebook and done those exercises, stop reading this and start.  

The 3 Most Stressful Things Most People Have:

1. Work/Money
2. Relationships
3. Responsibilities

Here is how I've eliminated those three things:

1. Work/Money -

I've figured out that less is better.  Doing less work, spending less time working, and sometimes even making less money eliminates stress.  The first thing I did after reading the 4-hour workweek by Tim Ferris was the elimination portion.  I got rid of all of the clutter that I didn't need in my life, canceled things and automated others.

Then I quite my job and started my online business which now eliminates things like the stress of having a boss, waking up early, commuting in traffic, parking, wearing a suit and tie, etc.  

2. Relationships -

I've stopped worrying about relationships, getting laid, getting married, having kids, dating, all of that. By shifting my priorities to doing things for me and living a great life, getting in great shape, building my business, traveling, and enjoying life it has somehow made me more fun to be around and more attractive to the opposite sex.  Think about it, when you are full of energy, genuinely happy in your life, and am not desperately thinking about relationships, that's when the great ones come.  It's infectious and that's the way life and love strangely works.

3. Responsibilities - 

By getting rid of all of the clutter, quitting my job, having a semi-passive form of income that I can generate wherever I am in the world and living a simple life, I now have very few responsibilities.  If I was content and not trying to grow my business, I could work less than 20 minutes a day maintaining the site, forwarding orders to my dealer to ship out, and the tracking numbers of shipped orders to customers.  All that could even be automated if I really wanted it.  As far as other parts of my life, by renting most things, not buying things in the first place that I don't need, and buying the best when I do need it, things don't break and I don't have to deal with fixing anything ever.  I also never have to go to the post office, office, mechanic or really anywhere else that I don't enjoy going to.

In my next post I am going to write out the ten products I've purchased that have made my life easier and more productive.  But I wanted to make sure everyone did the above "free" things first before trying to spend their way into a lower stress life.

If you haven't already, make sure you read my book, 12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap.  It is the story about how I decided to quit my job, move to Thailand and live as cheaply as possible, sometimes for as little as $600 a month, while following my passions and discovering new ones.  It's basically chapter 1 of the new stress free, 4-hour workweek lifestyle.  While this blog is the beginning of chapter 2.  If you're curious about my journey, what I've been up to for the past four years, and how to live a stress free life.  Read the book.  Trust me, it's a fun, enjoyable read.  

Well at least the reviewers on Amazon think so.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to leave a review of the book by the way!  It means a lot to me.  

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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