In a conversation today, I used the phrase “appropriate and productive stress.” Stress is the bully of the moment; anything that puts weight around your middle at least gets serious consideration for that title. Three of four Americans are significantly stressed? That makes me a little sad. Mine is situational, and for good or bad, kind of under my own control. I feel fully capable of getting done what I need to get done. Time is my enemy of choice. And then there’s the plain old personal stress (and not much of that to speak of at the moment). But we won’t go there.
Stress is simply part of the human condition. Wee needed it to survive. There’s that whole flight or flight thing. Gotta feel the stress for that business to work; either a larger animal trying to eat you or someone reaching for the last size small of that sweater you wanted. Or is that just me? Anyway, the human condition. Somewhere along the line, if I recall correctly it was the 80s because I was there and witnessed that “greed is good” shite first hand, there was stress around keeping up with your greedy bastard neighbors. And you started to hear about heart attacks. In my minds eye, I still see a sweaty, balding, bespectacled personification of this in my mind. Oh jeez. He smells like coffee and cigarettes too.
My point is that a certain amount of stress is good. It’s uniquely western to be so binary in our thoughts, there is a place for stress in a balanced life. As I said earlier, “appropriate and productive stress.” And don’t I love it when I learn about proof of my own witty musings right after I have said them?
I really wish that we would make some peace with stress. Or rename it. Honestly, people that don’t feel stress at all have something seriously wrong with them, ailments varying from being totally detached from reality to being downright simple. I don’t want to hang out with those people. How can something that makes you feel something that motivates you be totally wrong? I’m not minimizing the significant stress that many people are under right now (3 out of four! Oy!). Too much of it is a very bad thing. But why do we have to turn something that is sometimes totally normal and productive into some kind of damning trait” (oh, leave daddy alone right now. He is under a lot of stress at work).
I am starting to understand the poor souls that totally lose it on the road. Yesterday, I changed lanes and the guy behind me not only honked but flashed his lights (so he had time to do both of these things, but not slow down). It’s not that he was going fast. In fact, he was coming to a red light, already breaking and going pretty slow. But he wanted to have the option of speeding up, I guess. Cruising through the light and maybe taking out a few people. I think that when we decide that we are stressed (the bad kind), we find other things in life to make it so. We are addicted to the idea of stress and it becomes part of the story we tell to ourselves and the world about why we act that way. We take all these minor things, call them stressful and add them to the tally. And although I am no expert, I think we need to observe these stressors, identify them, act when we can and then let them go. What is this business with making things worse for ourselves?