woman holding dog

Image by Martin Kingsley

Stress can contribute to ill-health. This has led to much attention being paid to reducing stress. I’d like to look at turning this on its head or approaching it from the other direction.

I think it is clear that stress isn’t working hard or to do with a particular kind of work. It isn’t about working hard because it can be a pleasure to work hard at what we love. And it isn’t to do with particular kinds of work being inherently stressful because, whatever kind of work we find stressful, there is someone somewhere who loves to do it.

It is the factor of ‘loving to do it’ that I want to look at. We have times of ease and focus where our activity (even energetic activity) feels flowing and right. That is, most of us have times without stress. And for me these are the times when I feel that I am doing what is ‘truly me’. Doing what I love, action flowing from the core of who I am; these are times of no stress.

What would happen if we emphasised these times of doing what we love instead of focusing on reducing stress?

I don’t want to criticise understanding what it is that we find stressful. This is very useful. It gives us specifics to work on, makes it easy to measure our progress and have a sense of achievement in moving to an easier life. This can all be useful and delightful.

However, reducing the stressful won’t necessarily get us to what we love. To focus on doing what we love, our authenticity, is a different approach to living a stress free life. One that I find easier – but I am a big picture person. People who like details may just find it vague and woolly.

These two approaches can fit comfortably together – reducing what stresses us and working on what we love can fit quite comfortably together. Here are some questions to reflect on for each approach.

Reducing Stress

  • What is it I hate?

Is it the whole thing or one aspect? If so what in particular? Can I get rid of this one aspect?
What is the goal? Is there a less stressful way of getting to the goal?

  • If I can’t get rid of what I hate.

What reward can I give myself for dealing with the stressful thing?

Finding what we love. (It doesn’t have to be a big thing, loving the little things is just as likely.)

  • When do I lose a sense of time? Those things I do when ‘time just flies by’.
  • What do I do easily?
  • What do I feel better after doing it?

Let me know what you think of this approach to stress. Do you prefer one approach to the other (and can you say why if you do)?

If you are new to my blog, thank you and I hope your visit has been worthwhile for you. I am soon to release a free report. I would value your comments on the text of it. It is called, “It’s Not About Success”. You can read it (its quite long for something in the blogosphere , over 17,000 words) here or by clicking on “It’s Not About Success” under the “Site Info” heading in the side bar on the left. I would very much value whatever comments you have. Many thanks, Evan.

14 Comments to “Two Ways to be Rid of Stress”

  1. Good points, Evan. In his oh-so-popular book, Tim Ferris talks about the difference between dis-stress (negative) and eu-stress (positive). We experience eustress when we are working hard at things we love. As much as possible, I try to stop working on things I hate and expend more energy on things I love.

    Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, so learning to accept what is also helps a great deal!

  2. Evan says:

    Thanks.

    I do find acceptance is very necessary. My approach too is to increase doing what I love.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. I like this idea Evan. It’s a bit like playing to your strengths rather than focusing on minimising your weaknesses.

  4. Evan says:

    Hi Karen,

    Yes I think it is very much playing to our strengths.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  5. J Trout says:

    Hello Evan,
    I like your approach to stress. I think too often we have to do things for others that we may not really want to do or find fulfilling, and it causes stress. Oh how I desire to find a remedy for this. I will begin painting again. That was one thing I loved but have not had the time to do in quite a while. I am contemplating another art class at the college. I also think that many times we over look these types of remedies because it seems frivolous or there just doesn’t seem to be time. Well, when you never put yourself 1st, that’s what happens. I am going to think about what you said. What is it that I do that makes the time fly, and that I feel more relaxed after I do it. Very good food for thought. J http://www.waterwheelworld.blogspot.com

  6. Evan says:

    Hi J,

    I’d like to hear how you go with the painting and the art class.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  7. Viv ;=) says:

    Hi Evan,

    The questions you put across ring a bell because that were the questions I asked myself (not that exact though) when no amount of tests, medications & doctors’ visits help solved the mysteries of some health concerns occurred to me a few years ago. After tackling those issues, the problems mysteriously disappeared.
    So having learnt this worked for me, whenever I feel something is not quite right–I’ll give a check on my stress levels first.

    Yes, there is the good stress & the ugly stress 🙂

  8. Evan says:

    Hi Viv,

    Thanks for telling us about your experience. I’m glad paying attention to the stress fixed the problem.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  9. J Trout says:

    Well you asked for it. I haven’t started art class yet but I did post one of my paintings on my website. Just that made me feel happy and calm. No stress, at least for the moment. If you would like to view it go to http://www.waterwheelworld.blogspot.com. I’m enjoying your site. Right now I have only had time to post in my site about once a week, but I hope to change that. Have a waterful day! Joanie Trout

  10. Evan says:

    Thanks J,

    The link to your site doesn’t work for me.
    Evan

  11. Evan says:

    Hi J,

    I got to your blog another way. I like the painting of the lighthouse. (Is water a theme in your painting too?)

  12. J Trout says:

    I think I added a period at he end of my link and fouled it up, just click on J Trout and it should take you there. I don’t always paint water but I have this and one more completed painting with water, and one in progress. I hope to do more. I love painting water which is funny because I painted these in my past life before I remarried and got into the water biz. I also do bead work and plan to design some pieces of jewelry in cool watery colors. I will show them on my site when I get them done. We are coming into our busy season soon and that always limits my fun time. Joanie

  13. Susan says:

    I like your ideas Evan and am going to read “It’s Not About Sucess” later this evening.(I printed it out) Doing what we love reminds me of a psychiatrist and intuitive I heard about. Dr. Judith Orloff is a great believer and teacher of reducing stress and leading a more vibrant life.

  14. Evan says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Susan,

    I’m glad you like my ideas. I’ll check out Judith Orloff.

    I very much look forward to your comments on ‘It’s Not About Success’. And appreciate the time you are putting in.

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