When you stop to consider what causes your stress, could the answer be your relationships? Financial issues? Your job? The weather? Whilst I understand your thinking, I have come to see that this is not actually true!
Stress is totally created and experienced, in the body, by an individual. Allow me to explain, using a common example of what happens in our lives.
It’s early morning. Your children bustle down to the breakfast table, shouting at each other. Which emotion does this make you feel?
a) Irritation. Why do they have to make so much noise, all the time, every day?
b) Love. You are obviously raising energetic, lively, confident children.
How can the same event cause two such contrasting feelings? Because it is not the children that cause your feelings, at all. It is your ‘at that moment’ attitude to them, and to life in general, that dictates your feelings. A positive outlook tends to encourage positive feelings about what happens in your life, while a negative outlook will more often foster negative feelings.
This is a useful realisation for us, but the Natural Default Setting goes much, much further than that. In fact, personal insights and a deeper understanding of the Natural Default Setting, over time, can reduce the impact of negative – stressful life events and situations.
The Natural Default Setting
If you let outside events influence your thoughts, then your related emotions/ feelings will be, to a certain extent, at the mercy of random life events (further moderated positively or negatively by your attitude/outlook at the time). For many of us, this often means stressful feelings.
However, there is no need for our feelings to be at the mercy of life events.
In the developed world, we tend to face relatively few stressful situations that are truly life-essential, such as avoiding a car crash, putting out a fire, etc. Our common causes of stress, such as criticism from your boss, an argument with your partner, an unexpected cost that will put you in the red this month – we regularly and routinely deal with these issues and move on with life. There is actually almost no need for them to cause us stress, but we let them anyway.
But I repeat – with only a few life-necessary exceptions, there is no need for our feelings to be at the mercy of life events. And the Natural Default Setting demonstrates why.
The Thought Cloud
In 2009, scientists at Stanford University stated that we have up to 90,000 thoughts daily. Since then, it has been suggested by others that we are actually more likely to experience 250,000 thoughts daily.
All of these thoughts have the potential to influence our feelings. If we latch onto a negative thought, it can make us unhappy/angry/jealous, etc. But if we then latch onto another of these thousands of available thoughts, our feeling can suddenly change. We have all experienced this.
The key to the Natural Default Setting is realising that only very few of our thoughts (and related feelings) are caused by outside life events. Far, far more of our thoughts (and potentially related feelings) are just part of the thought cloud that all humans live in.
And here is the most beautiful part of the Natural Default Setting – it doesn’t require any effort. You don’t have to keep monitoring your thoughts and actively decide to focus on something positive when a negative thought occurs. You don’t have to do anything at all. Just by remembering that each thought (and related feeling) is only one of a cast cloud of thoughts (and potentially related feelings) is enough to ease the stress. And the more we live with this realisation and live working with our natural default setting, the more we feel our physical and emotional tension -pain ease.