01 May Being Stress-Free is Simple
People are born into cultures that have stress as an expected component to the gestalt of the culture itself, so it is part of their cultural download. While many people do things to reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation or exercise, most of them never stop to take a look at the mechanics of how it is produced. For those who do question what produces stress, the answer they come up with is usually inaccurate as it points to circumstances outside of oneself as the cause.
Experiencing stress in day-to-day life is not caused by circumstances. Stress happens when you say “no” to what is happening in your current circumstances. For instance, if you are in the midst of doing something and the phone rings and you think of it as an interruption or intrusion, you will immediately feel stressed. Stress also comes from the need to be right that things should be different than they are. In the previous example, you are right that the phone shouldn’t be ringing and that the caller is disturbing you. Stress happens when you think the moment isn’t perfect as it is. It happens when you are trying to get somewhere rather than be where you are, as if getting somewhere is better than being here. It happens when you manipulate the circumstances to get what you think you want. Stress also happens when you are not being honest about something – when you are doing things that are outside of your own integrity.
There are three simple ideas that are a great support structure, that allow you to re-center yourself when you find yourself stressed or when life seems to be operating against you. We call them The three Principles of Instantaneous Transformation. Why we call them “instantaneous” is that in the moment you identify where you are without judging yourself, you are already back centered – in an instant. It doesn’t take time. It takes the willingness to discover where you are and how you are being, while giving up being right about what got you there. It takes giving up blaming yourself or others. The three principles are great tools that allow you to regain your equilibrium when you find yourself stressed.
Let’s define these three principles and talk about them in relationship to stress.
The First Principle of Instantaneous Transformation:
What you resist persists and grows stronger.
Resisting a situation is like exercising a muscle because resistance makes a muscle stronger. It also makes unwanted situations, emotions, or conditions stronger. In effect, the act of resisting something keeps it in place. When you resist something you have to push against it. And when you push against it, you get stuck to it so you can’t let it go. Not wanting something to be the way it is, wishing things were different, trying to “get over” something, are all forms of resistance. They are also versions of saying No to the way your life is unfolding.
The Second Principle of Instantaneous Transformation:
No two things can occupy the same you at the same time.
When you are focused on something, everything else falls away. For example, we were once walking down a hill when we came upon a thorny rose bush that extended over the sidewalk. We paid attention as we walked past it so we wouldn’t get snagged.
On our return trip up the hill, we noticed that on the road, right in front of that rose bush was a large truck with a horse trailer attached. We hadn’t noticed it on the way down the hill and by the amount of pollen that had gathered on the windshield, it was clear that it had been parked there for some time. Earlier, when we were consumed with the bush, we didn’t see the truck and trailer even though it was so close we could have reached out and touched it. And so it is with stress. Sometimes people are so consumed with stressors, they miss the rest of the world even though it is within reach.
The Third Principle of Instantaneous Transformation:
Anything you allow to be, allows you to be.
Let’s go back to the first principle: Anything you resist persists and grows stronger. If you remove your focus from what you don’t like, don’t want or wish to be different and bring your attention neutrally back to what’s in front of you, in that instant you’re free. Stress-free. Yup, it’s that simple. If you want to be “right” about someone else being “wrong,” then guess what? You get stress, stress and more stress and in truth, you are stressing yourself. Being stress-free is as simple as being where you are without disagreeing with your life circumstances, or saying “no” when life does not meet your preferences.