Last week was an extremely busy week. It seemed as if there was something that required my attention at every moment. Every time I was able to cross something off my to-do list, two more things were added.
When I have that kind of week, I tend to focus in on what has to be done, and I attack it full force. This can be good, except when I apply all of my resources towards that end, it leaves me vulnerable in other areas.
My wife was so kind to point out that I was obviously stressed, to which I quickly denied. Me? Stressed? No way! I was sure that I had everything under control.
I proceeded to look up stress in the dictionary (mainly to prove to my wife that I wasn’t stressed), and this is what I found. The definition said nothing about the mental state of being “stressed”. The definition was, “The importance attached to a thing” and “The physical pressure, pull, or other force exerted on one thing by another.”
Could the reason I was so stressed (I finally admitted that I was) be that I was stressing the wrong things?
A 2010 study by the American Psychological Association found that the top three things people are stressed about are money, work, and the economy.
If we apply the definition above to the psychological study, the reason we are so stressed becomes apparent. If the things that we stress, and by stress I mean “attach importance”, do not align with the truly important things in life, then we will inevitably be stressed-out.
Could it be that that the reason stress is so rampant in our culture is because as a culture we are stressing the wrong things?
I was recently on a family vacation in the mountains. One of the highlights of the week was our white water wafting trip. We had a large group so some were in a full size raft and the others were in kayaks. Being the manly men we are, the men in our group let the women have the large raft, and we choose to battle the rapids alone in the kayaks.
As we were coming down a calm portion of the river I decided to see if I could paddle against the current so I spun my kayak around and began to paddle furiously.
I was paddling as hard as I possibly could; yet I was barely moving. It wasn’t until I turned my boat around and went with the current that I managed to make any headway.
I believe life to be a lot like that. So often we paddle so hard towards a certain thing not realizing that we are paddling away from the truly important aspects of life. We make little headway and become stressed, and yet we never step back and realize we are paddling against the current.
Paddling with the current will cause you to spend more time with your family; paddling against the current is stressing something (work, hobby, friends, etc.) more than your family.
Paddling with the current will cause you to pay off debts and save for retirement. Paddling against the current will cause you to do just the opposite. The number one reason the study found that money was the top cause of stress was because of people’s debt problems.
What are you stressing that is causing stress? For me, it was my desire to accomplish everything on my to-do list before giving my family the attention they needed.
What are you stressing that is causing stress? Are you paddling against the current? What actions can you take today to turn your boat around?