Stress is like the wind. Or at least it ought to be.
When a breeze blows by, you don't try to do anything with it, do you?
How about a big gust of wind? You feel it, and your body might be temporarily affected by it, but you don't feel the need to change the wind, right? You just let it go as quickly as it came.
But somehow when stress shows up at our doorstep, we feel the need to do something with it. We push, pull, and fight with it in all kinds of ways. Nowadays, we manage our stress right alongside our finances. Some even wear stress as a badge of honor.
Not me. At least not anymore.
All my life I've been stressed. Stressed about school, sports, friends, money, work. Virtually everything. Then I woke up and realized that I'm causing stress, not life.
Stress comes from our resistance to the natural unfolding of events around us.
Think of resistance as an inability to accept that something has happened.
The natural energies of life flow in a certain direction. If we participate in that dance of energy, there's no stress. But if we resist the natural flow of life, that creates stress.
The formula is very simple: something happens on the outside; we can't handle it on the inside, so we resist it. Oftentimes, we resist our own resistance. That is, we get stressed about being stressed.
In physics, in order to measure stress on a particular structure, engineers oppose a force against it. This force is akin to our resistance on reality. Without it, there's no stress, because nothing in isolation has stress.
Your job doesn't cause you stress. Your resistance to it does.
The moment you realize that you're doing the stress, not life, then you're back in control.
Rather than just experiencing the temporary discomfort of any given moment, we push it back down with our willpower.
Let's say a certain coworker comes to you with a request (we all know this scenario, right?). On the outside, we smile politely, but on the inside, there's a storm brewing.
I'm too busy to do that! How dare they ask me! How will I have time for my other projects? Why can't they do it?!
Three hours later, instead of being engaged with the present moment, we're caught in the melodrama of the previous moment because we resisted it. Going forward, everything is clouded by our inability to accept the fact that a coworker simply asked us to do something.
Why do we resist?
If you pay attention, you'll notice that your stresses trace back to your fears and desires.
When we fear something, it means we don't want life to happen a certain way. When we desire something, we hope life does turn out a particular way. In both cases, we're not able to harmonize with the moments in front of us because we're either afraid of them, or we want something from them. Unless things happen exactly according to our unique fears and desires, we resist, ultimately causing stress.
Without fears and desires, there's no stress, just the beauty of the experience.
So how do you deal with stress?
You treat it like wind. Maybe it's more of a warm gust than a cool breeze, but either way, you let it pass without trying to change it.
The request from the coworker comes in, and it feels uncomfortable. Fine. I'm not suggesting you stop feeling stress, but rather to stop viewing life as the cause of it.
Rather than throwing a tantrum and resisting the fact that someone asked you to do something, you can instead notice the tension arise within and not have to do anything about it. Eventually, like the wind, it will pass.
In your place of work, on a moment by moment basis, start noticing where you're resisting throughout the day.
Stress is a great feedback mechanism that lets you know where you're going wrong. It presents a tremendous opportunity to let go of your personal preferences. It's not easy, but neither is constant stress.
I hope by now, you realize this isn't just about the workplace. It applies to life. And as with everything in life, it's not a question of what's going on outside, but rather what's going on inside.
Live with substance!
Stress is caused by our resistance to what's happening around us. If we don't resist, we don't stress.
P.S. If you enjoyed this article, I recommend checking out my practical step-by-step guide on what to do when stress arises.