So, this happened to me the other morning:

I’m on my way out of town on a long drive and I stop at the Starbucks drive-thru. As I turn to enter the drive-thru lane, a car approaches from the other entrance and turns to do the same.

The Great Yuppie Stalemate begins.

However, I am just waaay too tired to care. So I wave them to go ahead of me… all the while muttering a series of F-bombs under my breath.

I get to the window to pay and the barista says, rather sheepishly, “The lady in the car ahead of you paid for your order.”

I didn’t know what to say, but I knew how I felt, sitting there at 7 am.

I felt like an asshole.

image of starbucks sign

The way 2020 has been it’s understandable to feel a little “past your limit for BS.”

Your patience might be frayed. Little annoyances that used to go unnoticed now sour your whole day.

Or, worst of all? Something that used to bring you joy, such as watching your kid play with all their toys, now makes you think, “Oh great, l just cleaned this room.”

Stress adds up, but it’s also part of life. It’s a necessary part, too. So don’t make living stress-free your goal. It’s not possible, and even if it were, your mind would find ways to manufacture stress or break down. This is why those who seem to have it all can be the most unhappy.

Instead, resolve to make stress management more than just a buzzword and something you commit to every day.

Now, the trick is that stress management actually involves more than just “managing” your stress.

First, you have to detect it.

A very effective way to do that is through an occasional audit of your influences, as well as your own thoughts and self-talk.

Your influences are the easiest to assess. If you hang around negative people, network with them on social media, or if you live on cable news, you’re probably going to be more negative.

* As an aside, possibly more overweight, too? Just this weekend a potential client added this to his application:

“Night of the 2020 election, I looked at my gut and realized I’ve spent the last 4 years watching the news for 2 hours a day.

I thought, imagine if I’d spent that time working out and eating better?”

Monitoring thoughts and self-talk is tougher. I don’t know many dudes who say, “I’m gonna crush legs and then do some journaling while my rice cooks.”

Another option is to ask friends and family, but I wouldn’t ask your spouse.

“Honey, am I more negative lately?”

“No dear, you’re always kind of a raging dickhead.”

That dog won’t hunt.

However, an easy and very telling method involves your own social media accounts.

Look at your post history: is it four years of calling people you’ve never met redneck or libtard?

Or arguing about masks? Or just getting triggered by every brain-dead comment that crosses your feed?

Doing a big picture audit of “what’s on your mind” and especially how you respond to other posts can be a shock.

You might even think, “What the hell, that’s not me.”

Except it IS you.

And even if your social media presence is a total character, it’s still the energy you’re putting out there, and you tend to get what you give.

Of course, you can still call bullshit about all this. You can wait to get a slap in the face, just like my Starbucks Showdown that left me with free breakfast followed by hours of introspection.

One last thing: don’t sleep on this. Patterns, like habits, get ingrained.

And while we’ve taken to blaming 2020 for every crappy thing we deal with, let’s be real: the more you blame what sucks in your life on 2020, the less likely things will improve in 2021.

– Coach Bryan