The mind needs to be controlled to become stress-proof. Managing the mind requires an emphasis on positive thinking. In other words, each negative thought, emotion, or feeling, needs to be altered or switched to something uplifting. After all, life is too short to dwell on the negative. And it’s negative thinking, not positive, that leads to stress. Life, instead, is meant for joy and happiness. These are the teachings of The Marriage Foundation, an organization that turned my life into a quest for enlightenment.
With all that’s going on in our country, in our economy, in the world, and on social media, it feels like so many of us are under a great deal of stress. We know that chronic stress can be as unhealthy as smoking a quarter of a pack a day. For many of us, our work, our livelihood, is a particular cause of stress. Of course, a bit of stress is just fine, but what are stress management strategies that leaders use to become “Stress-Proof” at work? What are some great tweaks, hacks, and tips that help to reduce or even eliminate stress from work? As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Susanne Cardwell.
Susanne is a Marketing Director at a Calgarian-based engineering firm. She holds a master’s degree in Communications, learns work-related skills as a hobby, and dreams of obtaining an Olympian mindset. She believes all humankind has unlimited potential and can achieve unconditional love.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!
I have a master’s degree in Communications, although I was the top performer in nearly every math class I took. With mathematics, I had a highly disciplined work ethic and talent but not passion. The joy came with each perfect grade but quickly dissipated. However, my love for the creative and social led to a fulfilling career in marketing for an engineering firm. The job role is highly entrepreneurial, which allows for a wide range of enjoyable activities, making each day a source of excitement and joy.
While writing my master’s thesis, I worked full-time as a genetics lab training coordinator. At the same time, I was building a website without any background in web development for a business. Given this mix of time-demanding activities, I endured stressors I needed to manage.
Through diligent research, I found excellent stress-management strategies that included journaling and self-talk. But the ultimate method for combatting stressors I discovered in the teachings of The Marriage Foundation. The foundation teaches how to control the mind to remain in a state of joyful, unconditional love. These teachings produce a healthy, happy mindset, regardless of outer circumstances, and lead to an extremely high quality of life. Interestingly, The Marriage Foundation’s instructions generate all the advantages of enlightenment without requiring an ascetic lifestyle.
What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?
If I were younger, I’d aim for an elite level of fitness, a hard work ethic with education, and a spiritual foundation. Specifically, I’d have started a Gold’s gym membership young and read books on Olympians, Navy Seals, and other elite athletes. I’d have sought a full sports scholarship at an elite US university, perhaps West Point Academy. I would have excelled at my studies, aiming for a Ph.D. in marketing or economics with a math minor. I would have attended church, read texts from all religious traditions, and, ultimately, enrolled in courses from The Marriage Foundation.
Despite all those dreams, I wouldn’t want anything different than my current life. That’s because my life is infused with love and happiness. As a result, the biggest lesson I’d teach my younger self is that true bliss can be found regardless of outer circumstances. And it’s realized through controlling the mind. That advice comes from Paul Friedman of The Marriage Foundation. This organization serves as the practical guidebook on how to love unconditionally.
None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?
The most memorable mentor I’ve experienced is a high-performance athlete, intellectual, and spiritualist. When I had a dark moment during university, he brought me to God. He encouraged me to achieve a master’s degree. He also changed me from a frail female to a high-fitness athlete, so much so that I underwent private coaching lessons from an Olympian wrestler at my university.
Subsequent mentors I received were Paul Friedman and his wife from The Marriage Foundation. Their teachings uncover the most practical, spiritual essence of how to love unconditionally. Their teachings surpass every religious text in providing a practical approach to loving unconditionally. The Marriage Foundation is radically different from anything you’d find in the psychological community. That’s because The Marriage Foundation bases its teachings on higher spiritual values. And unconditional love is the highest of all.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?
Through pursuing work-related passions, I’m striving to surpass six figures within two years. I’m achieving this through a variety of goals. Some of these goals include work performance bonuses and weekend activities that benefit my career performance. So, these weekend pursuits also have career benefits.
One of these pursuits is becoming certified as a TMF (The Marriage Foundation) Counselor. I enrolled in the certification course not for the work credentials but for the knowledge. However, the certification allows me to earn a higher income strictly on Saturdays, which is my day off work. But most importantly, it enables a greater understanding of positive relationship dynamics to the benefit of all I encounter, whether in customer support or personal relationships.
I’m also learning to create a metaverse. I am still determining how realistic this objective is, given the current state of Web 3.0. And the learning curve is steep. Still, I’m hiring coaches and reading books to that end. My hope is it brings greater joy through an online spiritual environment. And that joy is by nature selfless and unconditional.
Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about stress. How would you define stress?
To create an ongoing peaceful, stress-free state, I believe wisdom is beneficial, although not necessary. More than wisdom, it’s crucial to control the mind to alleviate stressors. And this mind mastery takes constant vigilance, according to The Marriage Foundation. We must watch our thoughts 24–7, extracting the worst and replacing them with the ideal. And that ideal is always based on love. Therefore, there is no room for stress when actively expressing selfless love. The body may undergo severe stressors, but the mind can be controlled to maintain a happy, positive state.
In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. So what has led to this chronic stress? Why are so many of us always stressed out?
Over time, stress has become less physical and more psychological and emotional. The university psychology curriculum embraces emotions. However, The Marriage Foundation asserts that emotions are the body’s drive to survive. Indeed, stress is an alarm signal in the body’s drive to survive. But there exists a higher state that is beyond emotions and the mind. And that state, according to The Marriage Foundation, is love. The Marriage Foundation instructs that love is our essence, and any stressful thought or emotion is in our control, just as the mind and body are in our possession. If we let the body and mind drive what we think, say, or do, we are potential victims of stress. But once we embrace our essence of pure, unconditional love, we enter a state of happiness, regardless of life’s stressors.
What are some of the physical manifestations of being under a lot of stress? How does the human body react to stress?
Physical signs of stress include spaciness, shakiness, and breathing irregularities. However, all these signs are preventable through mental conditioning and lifestyle. Even when the physiological body manifests stress, mental stability can be maintained — so much so that happiness ensues.
It takes conditioning the mind to focus on positives in thought, speech, emotions, and behavior, according to the teachings of The Marriage Foundation. It also requires a detachment from praise or blame, or any negative or positive. Instead, it requires a centered state of calm — or, better still, love.
Is stress necessarily a bad thing? Can stress ever be good for us?
Stress can catalyze change, primarily when the underlying cause is managed immediately. However, stress is best left out of life’s equation. And mindset is key to stress prevention.
Is there a difference between being in a short term stressful situation versus an ongoing stress? Are there long term ramifications to living in a constant state of stress?
The long-term ramification of living in a constant state of stress is a higher frequency of episodes. But again, all pressure is manageable and readily overcome with a disciplined mindset. There is never a need to worry when a thought can be centered, instead, on something loving. We have a choice on what we think, moment by moment.
Is it even possible to eliminate stress?
The Marriage Foundation indirectly taught me that stress could be eliminated by controlling the mind. Friedman teaches that constant vigilance needs to occur within the mind. To illustrate, every thought that enters one’s consciousness needs to be evaluated: is this positive or negative? Is it beneficial or detrimental? And all negative thinking needs to be replaced or enhanced with something joyful. If a thought isn’t producing happiness, it’s the wrong thought.
In your opinion, is this something that we should be raising more awareness about, or is it a relatively small issue? Please explain what you mean.
A new revolutionary paradigm shift should occur in the psyche of all people. Paul Friedman of The Marriage Foundation is advocating for this shift. Specifically, this change is in not just how we perceive the mind but how we control it. For example, for a while, when I was a teenager in a new high school away from all my friends, I’d wake up each morning and say, “It’s a great day.” I’d count my blessings, too. These types of activities are a form of controlling the mind to generate happiness. And the birthright of all people is to obtain a constant state of happiness, according to The Marriage Foundation. And this continual state of happiness is achievable, regardless of outer circumstances. It’s like learning to drive an airplane, says Paul Friedman; you need to understand the rules of how to fly to succeed.
For you personally, if you are feeling that overall, work is going well, do you feel calm and peaceful, or is there always an underlying feeling of stress? Can you explain what you mean?
I rarely feel stressed at work; I’m in a flow state. I have found work that brings a high level of satisfaction with employers who demonstrate immense decency. The entrepreneurial career allows me to explore many fulfilling activities, from design to marketing, sales, course development, and human resources. And at the end of each workday, I treat myself to a two-to-three-hour workout followed by activities that advance my primary goals.
In short, I’m experiencing the happiest state of my life.
Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 stress management strategies that busy leaders can use to become “Stress-Proof” at work?” Please share a story or example for each.
First, the mind needs to be controlled to become stress-proof. Managing the mind requires an emphasis on positive thinking. In other words, each negative thought, emotion, or feeling, needs to be altered or switched to something uplifting. After all, life is too short to dwell on the negative. And it’s negative thinking, not positive, that leads to stress. Life, instead, is meant for joy and happiness. These are the teachings of The Marriage Foundation, an organization that turned my life into a quest for enlightenment. So, for example, if I feel uneasy during the day, I automatically “change the channel.” It’s as simple as that. And suppose there is a lesson to be analyzed from the unease. In that case, I address it with playful humor, as Paul Friedman of The Marriage Foundation does. Life is too short for anything but happiness. And as Friedman says, “We can only think one thought at a time.” So, choose thoughts that bring joy. Joyful thoughts are always based on love.
Second, relationships nurtured with selfless, unconditional love are the ones that thrive. Selfless love is essential if we want stress-free relationships at work or home. Selfless love is void of criticism but ripe with praise, appreciation, and admiration — best given but not necessarily received. We don’t need two-way positivity for a relationship to thrive. We only need to provide the positivity, not receive it, for relationships to flourish. The Marriage Foundation has formulated the underpinnings behind this approach. For instance, they teach that we have no right to judge anyone as everyone is entitled to free will. And “no one is born a saint,” says Paul Friedman. To simplify, we should never criticize others but embrace criticism from others as a means of introspection. This accountability and empathy form the foundation of a peaceful, happy life.
Third, a high level of fitness reduces stress levels. From my experience, there is a threshold where a high fitness level reaps massive benefits. If we train more like elite athletes, the benefits are not only physical but also vastly psychological. Of course, six hours a day of high-intensity training is unrealistic unless you’re Michael Phelps, a Navy Seal, an Olympian, or simply gung-ho on fitness. However, these examples of extreme fitness are positive, too. But any level of fitness is beneficial. From my experience, workout routines incorporating strength training, cardio, core work, and stretching yield remarkable results.
For example, a few months ago, I began exercising for two to three hours at the end of each workday. Over that time, a muscle layer has developed, especially in my core. Also, my grip strength, a measure of longevity determined by time hanging from a bar, has increased. In short, the increased fitness level enhanced my energy, appetite, and tendency to stay calm and focused.
Fourth, choosing a career you enjoy lowers stress levels. To achieve an ideal career, consider taking personality tests and then match your personality profile with careers. Once you’ve done this, research job portals to see which prerequisites, job tasks, and income levels most suit your career ambitions. And then pursue those types of careers. As an example, I almost sought a graduate-level education in mathematics. Still, my love for marketing and course design led me to my present employer. As a result, my hobbies parallel my job duties, including course development. Therefore, my quality of life is high, and I am not susceptible to stress. Instead, I experience a daily flow state.
Lastly, a caffeine-free diet can reduce stress. Although this claim is supported by research, I’m at a crossroads. I usually avoid all caffeine to good effect. However, lately, with higher-intensity workouts, I’ve experimented with matcha tea and espressos. The caffeine, to my surprise, has had positive results, especially when taken immediately before exercising. These results include enhancements in workday productivity, workout energy, and concentration. The subsequent mental state is calm alertness, like being “ready for anything.”
Consequently, I would only drink caffeine if coupled with an intense exercise regime. Otherwise, I’d avoid caffeine altogether. But caffeine or any dietary consumption is a personal choice, as it’s best to “listen to the body” when making fitness or nutritional decisions.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?
Books on Olympians, elite athletes, and special ops not only entertain but isolate critical factors for high performance. It’s these insights that can leverage career performance to increasingly higher standards. And a high-performance day is cause for joy. Getting up early, working harder daily, and acquiring more efficient systems — are essential for professional growth. And the more we grow professionally, the greater the chance we enter a flow state.
The courses from The Marriage Foundation, however, are unparalleled. Their lessons teach us to remove the ego, replacing it with kind, selfless love. It’s this higher love that saints and spiritualists strive to realize that respects people’s autonomy. It’s a love that expects nothing but gives all. Unconditional love, as taught by The Marriage Foundation, is the basis for true joy. Courses from The Marriage Foundation are the ultimate resources I recommend to anyone wanting a calmer, joyful life.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I were to start a movement, it would involve bringing the principles of unconditional love into the workforce. Currently, Napoleon Hill’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People is the best resource for learning how to love unconditionally within the workplace. Hill’s book has a positive effect, yet its discussion on how to criticize in the workplace could be imbued with even greater love. That’s because any negative thought, action, or feeling is a wasted moment. But, on the flip side, positivity is the ideal constant state, especially when backed by love for all living entities. It’s this idealism on workplace unconditional love that I’d like to formulate, synthesized from both Hill’s and The Marriage Foundation’s teachings.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
My online presence is work-centric. However, if you want to internalize the philosophy of unconditional love, I recommend you visit themarriagefoundation.org. The resource serves as my guiding light for how to love selflessly. It’s my home away from home, my second place where I am immersed in spiritual light. I hope it becomes your resource, although you have free will, and it’s your choice. Should you decide to try it, it will revolutionize your world.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.
I wish the same for you and every living entity!