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We all deal with different types of stress throughout our lives. But it is how we perceive the things that happen that actually contribute to the stress that we experience. There is an interesting story that has been circling the internet for a while that I want to share about perception.
Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The Man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.
During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
After 3 minutes: a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.
4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw the money in the hat without stopping and continued to walk.
6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.
45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money, but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
Findings; No one knew this, but:
The violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world,
He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written,
With a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.
Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the Metro Station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and people’s priorities.
The questions raised: “In a common place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?”
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made… How many other things are we missing?
Many people are completely unaware that the stress we encounter comes from both external and internal sources. So stress is half about the situations that occur in our lives, but the other half is about how we perceive those events. So while watching this video, it made me think about the connection to how we perceive “stressful” events in our lives and how we might catch and check our stress reactions.
Have you ever known someone who responded to mildly stressful events as if the walls were caving in and the world coming to an end? Someone else may look at the same event and approach it with an attitude of “things happen” or “it’s just a little bump in the road”. It all depends on if your perception and general attitude tend to be more negative or more positive.
For example, you are driving down the road and someone cuts you off. Someone who responds more negatively may say a few choice words or yell at the driver. The negative person tends to hold onto that anger and continue to stew in it for an extended period of time after the event has happened. The driver with a positive attitude reacts in the short term to avoid a collision, but then looks at the situation and thinks “whew….I’m grateful that I didn’t get into an accident”. Then they may take a deep breath and let their thoughts move to other things. The negative person is holding onto the stress for far longer than necessary. This negative perception of events is creating extended periods of stress that can ultimately affect your health.
I will be the first to admit that I used to be a pretty negative person! I was one negative Nelly! And I was stressed out all of the time…and I was the one causing myself the stress! Nowadays I am so much more relaxed and positive. How did I change? When dealing with stressful situations I asked myself a couple of questions…
- In the grand scheme of life is this event/situation going to matter in one day? One week? One month? One year? More often than not the answer is no. If that is the case, then maybe you are making mountains out of mole hills and it’s better to let it go.
- Is stressing over this situation or event solving the problem? Or is it just causing more? If it is making you feel crappy and losing sleep or preventing you from accomplishing positive tasks, then is it really worth losing your feelings of well being by dwelling on it?
- If someone has hurt you or made you angry, does it help you or hurt you to dwell on negative feelings, or to play situations over and over again in your mind? I always tell people to stop allowing others to take up space in their brain! I don’t care how close someone is to you…. only you have the power to rent them real estate in your thoughts! If someone has hurt or angered you, maybe it’s time to evict them from your thoughts!
If you are having difficulty in letting go of your stress and changing your perception, you may want to look into a release technique such as EFT or the Sedona Method….both of which are powerful, yet simple ways to reduce stress.
You can significantly reduce your stress by taking inventory of how you are perceiving stressful events. Once you change your perception, your stress will decrease significantly and you will feel better and be healthier too!