In our modern business world stress has become an accepted norm, something we learn to live with on a daily basis. We take it home with us, into the shower, the gym, places of religious gathering and into our family time. It’s this subtle, barely perceptible feeling of a weight hanging over us manifested as a little voice in the back of our minds with a nearly continuous dialog related to things we need to do, financial objectives we need to meet, conflicts we need to overcome and difficult decisions we’re faced with.
I’ve noticed in my own process that over a number of years this becomes an acceptable norm, like the animation of the frog dropped in a pot of lukewarm water that is gradually heated to boiling, in which the water temperature changes so slowly that the frog never intuits that he needs to jump out of the pot, and boils to death.
We are like that frog when we accept stress as an inherent ongoing component of our daily living, and fail to notice that its constancy is not lessening, but increasing.
The road to release from stress I believe is to identify stress for what it is, and that is a collection of small-unidentified fears. If we train ourselves to listen closely to that little voice constantly jabbering about things we need to do or accomplish, while asking ourselves what are we worried will happen if we don’t to do or accomplish those things, then we will see that what is driving our emotional discomfort are little fears – the “what if’s?” What if we don’t do, say, acquire, solve or accomplish those things that are on our mind? The answer to this question, we will find, is the true driver of our stress.
The mistake we fall into is assuming that the stress is driven by the importance of things at hand, rather than our own decision to be concerned or focused on the “what if’s” of not doing what we think we’re supposed to do. To quote Williams James, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
This may sound over simplistic, yet to recognize that we can simply decide not to be in fear of the “what if’s,” chant the mantra “all is well,” and put one foot in front of the other, is absolutely effective at reducing stress. Focus on that one thing we’re doing now and only that. When we finish that one thing, move to the next thing and focus completely on that, and so on – and know that all is truly well.