Recently I spoke at a Conscious Leadership Connection (CLC) event, where I met Robert Silverstone. Robert caught my attention when he mentioned that he managed to live life free of stress. I had never heard anyone claim that in a world where so many things can cause irritation and haste. Naturally, I had to ask him for his secret.
Lisa Arie: Robert, how do you live stress free?
Robert Silverstone: Stress is a reflection of the past or a projection of the future. There's stress that is work related. There is stress that appears in relationships. There's stress that appears with or without money. But when we are living fully in the present, in the moment, then we cannot experience stress.
You know better than most, Lisa, through your work that animals teach us this. Animals don't have any reflections of the past or projections of the future. They are completely in the moment. What great teachers they are for us.
Lisa: If you could give people one thing that they could do on a practical level in their everyday life to reduce stress, what would that be?
Robert: I get to a tipping point toward positivity that changes how I view things, how I treat people to ultimately find a level of equality for [everyone] on the planet. Teach people to fish rather than giving them a fish.
The human condition is one that [means we have a] tendency to see ourselves separate from other humans in a variety of ways. Whether it is their gender, race or age, we are always finding ways to identify differences among us as opposed to similarities.
Differences represent negatives; similarities represent positives. For children growing up [among] generations in the past, that has always been the case. It has always been the case we grew up with. This person is different from that person. We grew up observing differences.
As parents, adults, leaders and children in this world, I believe we need to start recognizing how we are connected--that we are all fingers on the same hand, that damaging another individual is not different from damaging one of your own fingers and who would ever do that, even momentarily?
So, as far as [being] stress-free adults and parents and guardians of our children, it is about recognizing that children, like animals, are present and teaching them about how they are connected to each other. My wife and I have two sons. We are adopting a little girl from the Congo, and we are so excited to see what our children teach each other about their different worlds.
The other practical application I give people is to be able to take some quiet time to become still and listen at least once a day. Even if it is just for a few minutes--it doesn't matter [how long]. But connect with that core, that center, that...base and move from there. [We ought to] make that a discipline.
Lisa: Thank you, Robert.
Stress arises when we feel out of control. I appreciated Robert's understanding that our greatest sense of control is found in presence, in living fully in the present. Presence is what I found when I started working with horses. Up to that point, I actually thought I was present. Until you feel it, it's challenging to understand that you may not actually be present in your own life.
Becoming aware of what distracts you can bring you an immediate sense of control so you can start to know what it feels like to be present. Try it. Create a one-minute window for yourself (time it, if you have to give yourself permission to do this), and list all of the things that create distractions for you. If you want to take it to the next level, you can create solutions for each distraction.
If you find yourself resisting this simple exercise, ask yourself if you really want to live stress free. It's a cheeky question but the answer may surprise you.
Visit me at vistacaballo.com, for some further ways to discover a state of presence for yourself.
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