I’ve been thinking about stress lately. Time we spend in stress is time lost. And worse, time not launching our future. Time spent in stress is therefore a permanent loss – all the future you might have had if you were only calm enough to prepare for it.
Also, the higher up you go on the Y-axis of fulfillment, the more challenging experiences you open yourself up to. Think about a musician who moves up from playing nightclubs a couple times a year to playing a stadium every three days.
Imagine being the president of a country.
Or having kids!
There is potentially more stress as you pursue greater fulfillment.
So it is absolutely crucial that you learn to remove stress from your reaction portfolio. Note that I did not say “handle stress better”. You need to absolutely remove it. Because if you are “handling” your stress that means you are experiencing the stress but taking even more energy to do something with it!
Imagine modifying your response so stress just isn’t in the portfolio, or is so hard to trigger it nearly never shows up.
You will still want to practice feeling stressed. This is like not needing to lift heavy objects all day in your job, but still going to the gym. This is important so that should stress come back you are ready and don’t fall apart. For example you could take Krav Maga and spend a few hours a week with that really big Russian guy kneeing you in the stomach for practice (somehow I don’t think he felt me like I felt him). It is a fantastic practice to regularly put yourself under stress in a controlled environment and train yourself to respond with Bias to Action.
But your day to day should have no stress. Maybe “stressful” challenges come your way, but you need to feel happy, confident, and calm in response.
If you don’t then – aside from all of the incredibly negative impacts to your health and productivity – you are simply not handling the situation in a way that lets you grow to have more fulfillment.
I recently had a dear friend ask me to engage in some potentially dangerous activity for their personal advantage. I love my friends and wanted to help, so I almost did. I asked four people I trusted, including a lawyer and got universal emphatic guidance to *not* help my dear friend. I tried to talk to this dear friend about it, and every conversation raised more red flags than a Tverskaya Street May Day parade in ’72.
So I didn’t help. This was really disappointing to my dear friend and I hate disappointing my friends.
I got very stressed. I had significant physical reactions. My shoulders and neck seized up. Rashes broke out on my body. I felt generally unwell. All at once.
I did some work with my exec coach and she was really helpful in identifying my relationship to stress had some real opportunity (we don’t say “you are really messing it up with your stress”). She asked: why do you so consistently choose stress?
It was a good question. I am going to figure out how to respond with no stress, so that as I get bigger and bigger problems – and I plan to – I can feel at home, in my natural habitat.
I am so eager to have those bigger problems and I want to be ready.
Here is David Allen talking about managing stress and “mind like water”. It’s helpful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxhjDPKfbY