I discuss 4 ways to avoid stress, the importance of resilience, having a “Bring it on!” attitude and some awesome self-help material.
In episode 170, I answered 3 Q’s about the power team that is VPIP and PFR, making thoughtful decisions and wading through so much poker content.
Poker Playing Stress (5:25)
Everyone suffers from stress. I feel like I don’t stress out too much, but there’s always a little bit of stress there.
I’m not going to get too heady or deep into stress today. The biggest reason for that is, I don’t feel qualified enough to tell people how to handle their stress. It’s such an individual thing, that I’m not going to give you advice. I’m just going to tell you how I deal with stress.
There are 4 different ways that I work to avoid stress.
1. I try not to let things out of my control affect my emotions
I’ve given this quote on the podcast before, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s from a book called Wizard and Glass by Stephen King. One of the characters named Cort says this to the future Gunslinger:
“Control what you can control maggot, and let everything else take a flying fuck it you. And if you must go down, go down with your guns blazing.”
I can’t tell you how many times that quote goes through my head on a daily basis. At least every session that I play poker it’s there, and often times when I’m dealing with something that’s causing me stress or rising my emotions. Quotes like this help me inject logic into my rising emotions to quell them.
Mindfulness is being present, living in the now, and not letting emotions or random thoughts enter into the fray. We often put stress on ourselves by thinking about the past, problems in the present, or future problems. Practicing mindfulness through an activity like meditation is how I work to stay in the present and not let any worries take over my mind. There are plenty of ways to meditate, and the easiest I’ve found is using apps on my smart phone. Right now, I’m really into the Calm App, and this morning I completed 44 days in a row.
When you’re feeling stressed or anxious or worried or angry, STOP is a great practice.
Stop. Realize that you’re going through some kind of emotion or stressful situation. Something is causing you to react in a negative way. This is the first step in getting beyond it.
Take a breath. This is great practice, not just for quelling emotions, but also at the poker table before every big decision you make. Taking a breath helps to calm the mind and to get you thinking logically and critically about the situation you’re in.
Observe. You want to be present in the situation, observe the emotion and determine why you’re feeling it. Are you stressed because you’re stopped at another red light on your way home from work? Is it a friend dumping all their problems on you? You’ve got to know what’s causing the issue before you can move beyond it.
Proceed. Now that you know what’s causing the stress you could proceed and get beyond this moment. If it’s something out of your control, realizing that will help you to accept it. If it’s in your control, you can now make a change and solve the problem.
4. Think of the solution, not the problem
Too many of us encounter a problem, and we just dwell on it, letting it stress us out and being a drag on our life. Instead, understand the problem and work to find a solution. This is taking a more proactive approach.
Maybe you have a friend that really stresses you out. They call you every night and burden you with the problems they have with their work or their spouse or their kids or something. And because you’re a good friend, you talk to them and empathize with them every single night.
Eventually you realize that every time the phone rings, your heart starts to beat and your breath gets short. You dread answering the phone. It’s pretty obvious that all this talking hasn’t helped your friend get beyond their problems.
- It could be as simple is not picking up the phone every night when they call you. Just because the phone rings doesn’t mean you have to pick it up.
- You could tell your friend honestly what their burdens are doing to you.
- In extreme circumstances, you may have to just drop the friendship.
Develop Resilience (10:35)
You know how some people fall off a horse and never get back on for fear of falling off again?
In order to not let failure affect us we need to have an attitude of resilience. There’s an old Japanese proverb, “Fall 7 times, get up 8.”
If you have resilience it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. You realize that the pursuit that you’re in, whether it’s investing, surfing, poker, riding horses, whatever, it’s worth it to you. When you fall off that horse, when the stock market socks you, when your Aces get cracked, just accept it and get right back in the fray.
Have a “Bring it on!” Attitude (12:00)
Kind of in relation to resilience is having a “Bring it on!” attitude. One of my favorite movies growing up was Mr. Baseball with Tom Selleck. He is a pro baseball player, who hit’s a major slump and gets traded to the Chunichi dragons. He ends up going to Japan, and getting his groove back. Midway through the movie, it’s a sexy bath scene and he’s telling his new girlfriend his greatest fear.
That part always stuck with me. The story of his attitude going from “Bring it on, I’ll hit the ball” to “don’t miss the ball” hit home with me. I remember during baseball games after I watched that movie, as center fielder I would say to myself, “Hit it to me” over and over again. And, actually, what’s funny is I started saying it out loud to myself, and I gradually got louder. Sometimes the infielders heard me and one time the catcher told me he heard it.
I try to have this “Bring it on!” attitude in poker and everything else in life. If I’m taking part in something I want to be a part of it, I want the action. No standing on the sidelines here.
Paintball – my latest endeavor
This has translated to my paintball game. I just hate standing in the back behind a bunker, lobbing paintballs at the opposing team. All I want is to move, move, move and get in a position to nail my opponents. I don’t want to shoot 50 paintballs in hopes that one hits. I want to get so close that I can just double-tap them.
If you ever get dealt pocket Aces and say to yourself, “I hope this doesn’t get cracked again”, then you know you’ve got the wrong attitude. Instead, I want you to say, “Yes, AA. How am I going to make the most money with this?” or “Great hand, great chance to make some money, let’s find and execute the most +EV decisions, baby.”
That’s the “Bring it on!” attitude of a winner.
Self-help Recommendations (17:55)
The Kwik Brain Podcast – love this one. Jim Kwik is a big proponent of mental health, physical health and working to develop your memory. The podcast gives tons of strategies and shortcuts to better memory and learning. https://kwikbrain.com/podcast
The Model Health Show
I love this podcast. Shawn Stevens and Jade Harrel do this podcast and they talk about everything health related. Not just physical health but mental health, spiritual health, financial health, relationship health, etc. http://theshawnstevensonmodel.com/podcasts/
In a recent podcast #256 with Jairek Robbins I learned something really interesting. He talked about a really interesting idea that totally made this concept hit home with me.
When you’re in a war situation and are captured by the enemy, what do they do with you? The first thing they do is take away your sleep. They play loud music, throw buckets of water at you and make you sleep standing up. It’s basically psychological torture by not letting you sleep. Because of this, your mind doesn’t work like it should and you’re more prone to giving them critical information.
The next thing they take away is nutrition. All you get is a moldy piece of bread and some dirty stream water. This deprives you of the nutrients your body needs to function optimally.
The last thing they take away from you is your movement. They lock in a tiny little 5 x 5 cell, you don’t get any exercise nor sunlight. This degrades your body, sapping your strength and your will to live.
This is exactly what we do when we claim we’re too busy to eat healthy, get enough sleep or take the time to exercise. We’re torturing ourselves.
James Altucher Show
I get a lot out of The James Altucher Show. James talks to super successful people and you get to learn from them about the things they do that brought them their success.
In a recent podcast he interviewed Ray Dalio, the legendary hedge fund manager. In his latest book called Principles, Ray Dalio gives an equation for a successful life:
Dreams + Reality + Determination = a Successful Life
Dreams: knowing what you want from life, your true aspirations and desires.
Reality: accepting the world around you. Sure, you have limitations, but the world is full of opportunity.
Determination: this is where you learn how to deal with reality and develop the habits that it will take to achieve your dreams. Hard work and determination will get you there.
I love reading books. These ones are so good that they each deserve to be read by you.
The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan (podcast episode #3) – shows you how you can make progress by tackling the one most important thing everyday before anything else.
Mindset by Carol Dweck (#74) – discusses the importance of mindset for improving skills, knowledge and your life.
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod (#13) – helped me make some great changes that led to getting more done every day.
Soon to be read: Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Choose one of the podcasts or books I recommended and listen or read it. Work on yourself by learning from others.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
Support the Show
Johnny Scarlet picked up a copy of my Smart HUD. Destroy ’em, Johnny!!! Pick up your own Smart HUD here.
- Poker Q&A: MTT Variance, Playing Small-Medium Pocket Pairs, a Hand Review - December 8, 2021
- Cyber Warfare – 8 Useful Online Poker Only Tips - November 28, 2021
- Poker Profits – You Can Only Improve What You Measure - November 23, 2021