Recently I was asked to write a guest post on “15 Rules For A Stress Free Life.” My first question was – what is stress?
Here’s one definition – stress is how your body reacts to challenge.
From that definition follow a few potential “rules”:
1. There is no such entity as a stress free life. The only stress-free living organism is one no longer alive – and that’s true only if you ignore the stress death causes to communities, socieities, and species.
2. The body continually remakes itself – quickly – in response to an everlastingly changing environment. Without such stressors, we cannot function. Our bodies learn or we die – which means stress is necessary to the learning that’s required for our survival.
3. You are a living information field. Information is encoded in your body as flesh, in this article as text. As physicists can tell you, the universe itself consists of information. Your body constantly regenerates its information systems in response to the continuously changing environment. Do that job right and we call the result health – physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being. Healthy bodies respond more effectively to stress because biology is all about adapting and re-engineering – opportunistically – to changing stresses.
4. When people talk about “stress” they usually mean too many challenges to handle at a given moment. To deal with this kind of stress you first need define what bothers you – and what you are trying to get done.
5. Whenever a stressor feels uncomfortable, or simply too great to handle, think first of strategy, not tactics.
6. Strategy requires you to ask yourself at least four questions: A. Who am I? B. What is my aim in this matter? C. How can I accomplish my aim? D. What resources do I need to use?
7. To think of strategy – especially when you’re feeling up against a wall – it’s best that you not panic. So you may desire to increase your ability to obtain a relaxed state of concentration at difficult times. Fortunately, there are thousands of ways to obtaining relaxed concentration – including paradoxical relaxation, yogic techniques, deep breathing, mental focusing, and many others.
8. Chance favors the prepared mind – much of the time. If you don’t have the chance to think, it helps to have protocols – conditioned, logical ways or responding to challenges you generally face.
9. The biggest, most important events in your life – your career, who you love and marry, your passions – will usually arrive out of the blue. You can’t predict in advance the most critical factors in what has and will continue to make you you. The most significant factor in your life is chance. Luck rules life.
10. To truly combat stress, you have to know how to use luck – especially the positive luck that got you born, keeps you alive, and gives you opportunities to do what you really want to do.
11. Since chance is such a huge factor in life throughout your lifetime, trying to control all aspects of your life in meticulous detail will usually increase your sense of being stressed out. To survive well, you must embrace chance.
12. Fortunately for you – and for most humans – human bodies are extremely well adapted to using chance stressors to effectively remake themselves. A continually regenerating and learning information system is a very, very good thing to have.
13. Dealing with stress requires strategy. For most human beings, strategy usually meaning – a sense of connection with something larger than oneself. The more you have such “spiritual” feelings, the less stressors may bother and overwhelm you.
14. Since chance rules life, most of us will be hit unexpectedly by some event(s) both very big and hard to handle. That’s where humanity’s deep need for social connection comes in – and proves extremely useful. Social connections can markedly enhance one’s ability to deal with uncomfortable, disabling stressors – and the inevitability of death.
15. If there is meaning in your life, strong social connections, attachments to goals and aims larger than purely individual concerns, you’re lucky. Add the recognition that your ever regenerating body is good at handling unknowable chance events, and stressors may start to appear something you can handle.
Some of them may even make your life feel worthwhile.
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