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.
- 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.