Tuesday, June 23, 2009

stress?

I had a conversation today with a friend about stress. I have thought a lot about stress over the years and have been working very hard to eliminate it from my life. I decided long ago that I really didn't care for it. Here is the Field Lab Stress Mantra:

STRESS HAPPENS ON FOUR LEVELS

1. An event that occurs in your life that is totally beyond your control and beyond all anticipation.

2. An event that occurs in your life that is totally beyond your control but certainly should have been anticipated.

3. An event that occurs in your life that is totally within your control.

4. And all the little, repugnant things that your mind has picked up on through the years and filed away as stuff that really bothers you.

First thing to think about is that stress should be the exception and not the rule. Too much of the population has come to accept that stress is a way of life. It just doesn't have to be that way. The primal driving force of all living beings is to avoid pain and seek pleasure. Yet humans have learned to believe that stress is just part of popular culture and must be associated with a modern life. Seeking pain will not make you happy no matter what you gain from it.

You have to be very honest with yourself to realise that 2 and 3 are entirely your own fault and could/should have been avoided. (Remember: Stress is the exception. not the rule) You brought it on yourself now just deal with it and see that it never happens again. Bringing on your own anguish is slow suicide. 4 has been embedded in your psyche and once you can see it for what it is - just work on letting it go as it is all in the past and serves no useful purpose in your life. Once you master these steps - you will have the ability to think ahead and have the mindset to be prepared to deal with number 1.

You will be surprised how easy it is to trick your brain into a positive direction if you really try...

I look forward to questions and comments on this topic as I hope to win a McArthur Grant, produce an infomercial, and eventually sell my program on a stress free life through the internet and on QVC...or not...

19 comments:

Ben in Texas said...

My simple rule to dealing with life that I TRY to live by is, if you can do something about the situation,,do it.. if you can't , don't worry about it. And NEVER take your "worries" to bed with you.

John Wells said...

amen!

rj said...

Nice panoramic picture of the place...

salomon said...

nice. sounds like buddhism. :)

RikDeere said...

I have found that sometimes people with a chronic stress issues or anxiety disorders, have roots in something related to their overall survival in this world. This becomes exaggerated when their life depends on someone or something else that you have little or no control of.

Being in a mode where you take action to ensure that those primal survival needs are being worked on and planned for - and not depending on someone (person, government, or otherwise) creates the state of mind to eliminate stress and anxiety.

Spork said...

In recent years I've experienced increasing levels of job-related #3, to the point where I began noticing physical symptoms which could lead to health problems. I decided earlier this spring to take control of the situation and submitted my resignation. That night I slept nine hours straight through, it was my first uninterrupted sleep in at least two or three years.

Just recently found your blog John, very encouraging. Hope to build my own Pepino Swamp Cooler one of these days soon.

2L84Me said...

I've thought hard & long about what you posted and here is my way of dealing with the stress:
1."Adapt & Overcome" U.S.M.C.
2."Be Prepared" B.S.A.
3."Mistakes happen" Learn & don't repeat.
4."Don't sweat the little stuff"&
"Revenge is best served cold" :)
FINALLY: When all esle fails, take the day off and kick back with a cool drink, then relect, plan and ATTACK!

Allen Hare said...

I think Ben in Texas summed it up in a nutshell. Each of us has the power to change anything about our lives, if we so choose. Forgiving all transgressions, de-cluttering, simplifying, making a conscious decision to have a positive attitude, yoga, TM, excercise - all can help reduce stress. Find what works for you.

BigTex said...

I just sent your home page link to a friend letting him know you are living my and my Wife's dream. Literally, we would love to get to the point you are at before we are too old to remember that is what we meant to do.

About stress: Our life has been a hell of a coaster ride the past year--I got hurt pretty bad at work and money has been really tight. We are getting through it. We had "Plan A" that turned into "Plan B" and is about to turn into "Plan C". How have we done it--we just did. We bit the bullet, put the pedal to the metal, used more elbow grease, we survived because we wanted to. When you make conscious choices to "live" rather than feeling like you "have to do something", there's some stress, but it relents once you are over the hump.

Randy said...

Hey John Wells....I started reading your blog because you are doing exactly what I plan to do in a couple more years. ( Thought I was the only idiot left...) So now I find out you are smart....therefore dashing my hopes. Seems I really am the only idiot left. Well, good. Less stress in knowing you have no competition hey?

Bob from Athens said...

Like Ben says, if there is something you can do about the problem, do it, then forget about it and move on. If it is something beyond your control, forget about it and move on. This is easier said then done but after you have mastered these simple concepts it is amazing how great it feels to sit down in the lawn chair under the tree and take a nap. Or just look around and admire the scenery.

Nelson Prater said...

Great post, John. Greetings from Garland.

My wife's wisdom is "rarely does anything happen TO you."

Life is usually a pretty fair series of actions and their consequences. When we accept that, we can be less-stressed because we have some control over that.

You're doing some great work down there.

don said...

Have to agree with BEN.

Welcome! said...

Excellent post! I have been lurking here for quite awhile now, enjoying the progress of the Field Lab and I thought I would comment on stress.

As I see it, the problem most people have is making the determination between stress type 1 & and stress types 2 or 3. Especially folks who believe that so many things can't be anticipated or that most things are out of their control.

There is a process of self examination that is required to make those determinations and, sadly, most people are too busy too take the time or lack the skills.

It is nice to see that the Field Lab is also a reflective process for mental and spiritual matters as well technological and material.

Kevin said...

Your list 1-4 sounds like it came straight out of classical stoicism. Check out Marcus Aurelius or William Irvine.

boborama said...

Interesting post. I have to go with 2L84ME--be prepared to adapt and overcome, then move on. Construct a family of systems that will allow you to do this, and to be able to re-orient, quickly, when change occurs. Try to determine what is important, and focus on that.

Also, remember that you can't change other people--you can only change yourself....

Excellent point about stress in American society, that it has become, in many cases, an accepted part of life, i.e., "that's just how it is." Stress levels are often worn like a badge of social status. My friends from Australia are always amazed by how hyperactive people are here, especially when they visit either of the coasts. I sometimes think that this stress is perpetuated by the media and commercial interests, who can then use it to control mass populations to a greater degree...this is known as "marketing."

Stress can degrade your life or kill you, but only if you as an individual decide to allow it to do so.

I try to deal with these sorts of occurences through a combination of existentialism and engineering principles. It seems to work....

TROUBLEnTX said...

cant be stressed kicking up ur heels in a porch swing,watching life go by. has to be in a shade tho. lol

houstonmacbro said...

I am a recent follower of your blog and really have been enjoying your posts. Thanks for showing us that there is an alternate way of life. It is really inspiring.

Mr_Brown said...

John,

I'm a little late getting in on this one, but I liked the topic and figured I would throw in my observations about stress.

Stress certainly is a slow killer. Back in my corporate days I had two friends pass away at early ages and the root cause was stress. It's interesting to me how the corporate world and much of society celebrates stress. They encourage you to take it on, and praise you when you seem to deal well with high levels of it. In the end you are just a slave to the check and the appearance of a successful lifestyle and then dead at 50.

At one time I was stressed on a regular basis about my career, my success and keeping my job. I thought it would be the end of the world if was unemployed. The irony is that when my worst nightmares came true and I did finally lose my job ... only then did the stress finally go away. Lesson learned.

For me it was not about having a job or not having a job, it was about being in control and not being a slave to the process. Now my focus is a much different lifestyle ... a lifestyle that is focused a little more Terlingua Time.