And here’s the most important thing to keep in mind about stress. It is not always YOU. We as a society are evolving and evolution comes with growth pains. The key is to recognize this and to construct the best narratives (and responses) for moving forward and upward.

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Three important things you can do when you’re facing stressful circumstances:

Change the world – or at least the parts of the world you expose yourself to. Turn off the television, put away the devices, stay away from the divisive forces in your life.

Change your mind – that is, change your mental activity, either through attention or thinking. Shift your attention in a very rapid way so that you think of other things that are more positive or neutral.

Change your body – and how your body is responding. Go for a walk, try deep breathing, listen to music, or another technique to keep your body calm.

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Every so often there will be a spate of writing about the power of “negative thinking” and how optimists have it all wrong. Why do people assume that optimism equals inauthentic exuberance? Why do they think we deny pain and misery? That’s not optimism at all. Optimism is the ability to suffer, but to continue to tell good stories that propel us forward.

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