Good Stress

They say stress is a killer. But I think no stress is equally deadly, especially as you get older. If your days slip by without any highs or lows, without some anxieties and pulse-quickening occurrences, you may not be really living.
—Helen Hayes

Do you agree with her? Obviously I do, with my Optimizing Stress and Traits of Stress-Hardy, Resilient People. I haven’t had any particular anxiety recently, but my pulse definitely quickens and my spirits rise when I’m playing around with colors and two of them unexpectedly start singing — especially when I had decided I didn’t like one of them but would play around with it anyway. As Andy and I joke, I’m not sure my heart can take all the excitement. What about you?


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16 Responses to Good Stress

  1. Evan says:

    Stress has negative connotations but can be used neutrally too.

    Maybe it is better to save ‘stress’ for the negative and use ‘challenge’ or ‘rising to a challenge’ for the positive.

    And, heretic that I am: I think it is fine to be comfortable and love being in my comfort zone.
    Evan´s last blog post ..What Next #3 shaping your life to your preferences part 1 your preferred world

    • Jean says:

      I think the concept of good stress is useful. As one person puts it,

      Good Stress: Good stress helps us go about our daily tasks and achieve those hard-to-reach goals. This stress, called eustress, helps us learn new things, adapt to change and engage in creative thinking. Everyone experiences good stress on a daily basis. Another form of good stress is the stress that enables us to survive in times of trauma. This stress makes us aware of danger and enables us to escape when we need to.

      Developing stress-hardiness, of course, is learning to treat external events that kick us out of our comfort zones as challenges rather than threats. It was very useful for us when our place up in the mountains burned to a crisp.

      At my age I don’t have any long term goals, but I’ve always been hooked on creative thinking. The trick for me is when I’m exploring new situations, areas I know little about, is breaking things down into manageable chunks. Doing that is actually part of being in my comfort zone.

  2. Rummuser says:

    In our system / way of life, we strive to achieve equanimity. A tried and tested method to handle stress and related problems. I suppose that it is a cultural thing!
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..Much Ado About Nothing.

    • Jean says:

      If equanimity precludes experiencing joy in our everyday lives, I’m afraid you’re missing a lot. Is that why you wish you were a dog? 😉

  3. tammyj says:

    right now my major stress is trying to breathe. LOL.
    uh oh. when i laugh out loud i start to choke. i had no idea i laughed so much.
    i find i don’t stress so much now that i’m retired and able to live life totally on my own terms. but must confess… as always… the news of the world has always been a stressor to me. probably because of a helpless feeling. and yet … the world mosies on quite well without my help. LOL. uh oh. coughing again. 😀
    tammyj´s last blog post ..hello goodbye

  4. bikehikebabe says:

    “my pulse definitely quickens and my spirits rise when I’m playing around with colors and two of them unexpectedly start singing — especially when I had decided I didn’t like one of them but would play around with it anyway.”

    😀 But you are seriously enjoying your color.

  5. nick says:

    I agree with Evan, there’s a difference between stress and a challenge. I see stress as a situation where you feel overwhelmed and losing control, and that’s obviously not good for you. But it’s necessary to have challenges in your life, things that test you or puzzle you or make you exert yourself a bit, because otherwise as the quote has it, you’re not living, you’re just plodding on from day to day.
    nick´s last blog post ..British values

    • Jean says:

      The whole thing about stress-hardiness is learning how to view external situations as challenges rather than as threats. It’s a much more enjoyable way to live. And when life is going along smoothly, setting up our own challenges to enrich our lives. I agree with you on that!

  6. Rummuser says:

    Jean, equanimity does not preclude joy. In fact it is being in the middle path, not too excited when good things happen and not too depressed when bad things do. Joy and sorrow are part of living and one accepts the inevitable with equanimity knowing that everything is impermanent and what is at the moment will also pass.
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..City Lights.

    • Jean says:

      I do that all the time, of course. That’s what stress-hardiness is about. Just different words, and more curiosity about how the process works.

  7. Rummuser says:

    And if you see Chutkey, you will see why I would like to be a dog!
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..City Lights.

    • Jean says:

      And if you could experience what it’s like to be me, you would probably want that too. 😉

      I focus more on gratitude than you do, I think. When we do that equanimity takes care of itself.

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