By Stuart Nelson
Let me make it plain right from the start that although I recognise that some stress in our lives is actually good for us, the use of that term in this article is intended to cover the harmful, negative kind.
Hardly anyone is entirely free from stress, but not everyone is unhappy. Yet we know instinctively that stress brings unhappiness. So what is happening here?
The fact is that some people seem able to ride the waves of life’s rocky sea much better than others. They face the same causes of stress as others who succumb to them, but fail to allow them to depress them in any way. They may occasionally feel mildly agitated, but they are able to shrug off troubles, even big ones, so that their sleep is never disturbed and they never display any of the typical signs of stress. They not only understand mentally the fact that stress is a reaction that can be controlled, but they have inwardly accepted it, and now they control their reactions automatically.
This ability to bounce back as if nothing bad had happened is called resilience. It is a quality that I teach others to develop, both in my Stress Management and Resilience Course and in the course of life coaching.
Potentially, if people develop resilience to stress, there is no direct barrier to happiness, and they should be able achieve it.
Paradoxically, I now want to consider an alternative route to happiness.
An alternative route to happiness Last year, I studied a course on developing mental toughness. It occurred to me at the time that the implications of having mental toughness and being resilient to stress are identical. In other words, mental toughness seemed to be a synonym of resilience. Nevertheless, I might easily not have come to that conclusion, for the course focused on things other than the defeat of stress. Indeed, resistance to stress featured in only one of twelve parts to the course.
Seeing stress in this perspective provides a clue to the truth. Either mental toughness is a wider concept than resilience, or else resilience covers much more than stress. Which is right probably doesn’t matter at all. What matters is the underlying truth that there is more to happiness than elimination of stress.
The course on mental toughness concentrated on achieving peak performance. This is where it differs from my own approach in combating stress. But, as with my own approach, it did so by means of an holistic route, taking in physiology, psychology and emotions.
In fact, the road to peak performance was identified as one that involved high positive energy levels, described as energy without tension.
Could there be another way? It is not difficult to imagine how much easier it is to be happy and fulfilled if you achieve resilience. But could there be another way besides focusing on mental toughness? I believe there could be and that there is.
Think for a moment what it felt like when you last experienced being inspired. Have you any idea what caused your inspiration? All sorts of things can inspire people, but it is true that some people are inspired more easily than others.
If you have ever been inspired, you will know that it feels amazing; that you experience being pulled forward with little effort; that you are in the flow and nothing can disturb the positive feelings that you have.
Inspiration is a source of energy that exists in your very core. Recent studies into the connection between the heart and the brain might suggest that inspiration is a product of the heart. But this is of no real consequence to us. What matters is that we experience it. Like electricity, we cannot see it, but we know it when we have it.
It is quite impossible to be unhappy or depressed when we are inspired. Hence, inspiration rules out all forms of stress. However, the advantage of inspiration over all other forms of energy is that it can last for days, weeks, months, years or even for a lifetime.
So we have discovered an alternative route to resilience to stress: focus on finding inspiration.
How do I find it? Inspiration is a recognised outcome of coaching. Many coaching clients experience inspiration during or after a coaching session. Moreover, coaches know how to ensure that inspiration is sustained.
But coaching is by no means the only way. If you are the sort of person who finds inspiration in almost anything, you will know what to do now, but if you are not, there are still steps that you can take to improve your chances.
1. Reflect on when you were inspired in the past Look back at the experiences, people, literature, thoughts, dreams, ideas and other things that inspired you in the past. Be sure that you identify the source of the inspiration and think how you might replicate it now.
2. Clarify what works The source of your inspiration may not be at all sophisticated. Avoid confusing what really works to inspire you with what you think should inspire you.
3. Create environments that support you If free space inspires you, have a blitz on clutter. If liberal thinkers inspire you, surround yourself with them. If beauty inspires you, redesign your living space with photographs, paintings and plants. Be creative.
4. Focus on creation Focus on creating inspiration, not on what is preventing you.
Copyright: StressKill 2006
Stuart E. Nelson (www.LifeCoaching4You.com) specialises in helping stressed and disillusioned nurses to reconnect with their passion for nursing. He does this by concentrating on the elimination of stress, and the building of supportive environments. But Stuart is prepared to help anyone who is stressed. Let the author of “Potential for Harm” and the founder of “Success Story”, the FREE newsletter, help you to find better balance in your life, happiness and fulfilment and to grow the profitability of your business. Request your copy of “Success Story” today! Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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