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By Steve Wells

“The life of a high achiever is one of risk and reward, one of sowing and reaping, and/or one of straining and growing. Nothing great will happen unless you first take a risk, sow the right seed, and/or strain through resistance. Get started and make your dreams come true.” - Greg Werner (Strength & Conditioning Coach)

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
– Helen Keller

Some people are seeking a world without stress, a world of total comfort. But you need stress in your life and if you have enough of the right kind of it you can actually end up with a life which is more comfortable. By the same token, seeking to eliminate all stress from your life can mean you end up less comfortable and having less of a life. Let me explain…

There is distress, the bad stress, and then there is eustress, the stress that helps you grow. This is the kind of stress you need in your life. It is also the neglected part of the stress theory originally advanced by Hans Selye.

Eustress was defined by Selye as “healthy stress, the type of stress which gives one a feeling of fulfillment or other positive feelings. Eustress is a process of exploring potential gains.” (Wikipedia).

In Selye’s model, persistent stress that is not resolved through function qualifies as distress, and can lead to anxiety and withdrawal behaviour. Eustress, on the other hand, is the positive stress which enhances physical or mental functioning through, for example, strength training or challenging work.

Eustress in my definition is caused by energy that moves, or represents that which causes energy to move. An action that causes energy to move through you can be a good stress. Like going to the gym. Or having good therapy. These are examples where seeking out stress ultimately results in less stress of the negative type and generates more energy flow, arguably a state of greater comfort.

The ultimate cost of seeking a world without stress is that you end up atrophying. Ultimately, attempting to eliminate all stress from your life in order to be comfortable can have deadly consequences for your life energy. You may recall the biblical parable of the guy who accumulates all this “stuff”, gets ready for a life of ease, and then dies .

We are goal seeking organisms, we need the positive stress of moving forward and growth.

Exercise is an example of something which seems to take energy but which ultimately gives more energy than it takes. It seems (when you are setting out to do it) to have an energy cost but ultimately (after you’ve done it) there is an energy boost. The same could be said for cleaning your house, or desk, or car, or completing a task you’ve been putting off. Or taking action on a life value or high goal.

Getting off your bottom to go out there into the world, expand your comfort zone and achieve your goals often has a fear component or a feeling of working hard associated to it, but the rewards of moving through this are great. Jim Rohn says “for every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward”.

And here’s where the tapping can come in.

You can tap on your fear of moving forward. You can tap on your fear of feeling a little bit of stress. Tap to realise the value of positive eustress in your life; to help you realise not just intellectually but in your nervous system that this stress is a good thing to be experiencing. And tap to prevent that stress from becoming distress, the kind of stress that accumulates and overwhelms and doesn’t move. Tap to facilitate the movement of that stress through your system, to ultimately make the uncomfortable more comfortable and create the action habit in your nervous system …

There is, of course, a place for comfort in life, for rest in between surges forward. It may even be essential for your ultimate development and may improve your productivity and performance to take a rest. But you don’t want to stay there, otherwise you start to go backwards. And your energy contracts.

Paradoxically, expanding your comfort zone and creating more stress - which seems to be the most uncomfortable thing – can actually produce a level of comfort and peace and achievement far beyond what can be achieved by basing your life around comfort and security.

I say it this way to potential peak performers: Your success lies on the other side of your current comfort zone. Your success relies on getting more good stress into your life.

So here's the important question for you: What, if you did it today, would lead to an influx of positive energy into your life? Make the decision to do it now, tapping for any fear and worry that this may cause. Tap to change your attitude to stress. After all, it may be that stress which will keep you alive.

What do you think? We would love to read your comments.

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2 Replies to “Get some good stress into your life (or: The Costs of Comfort)”

Amer Saad

Hi Steve, labelling is interesting isn’t it? I have noticed that my children (19 & 24) use stress to define many more emotional events than I do (56). For example when the 24 year old’s boyfriend recently went to measure up their new flat a few days before they moved in, he said he was stressed by it because the previous people were still there – I would have said I was a bit anxious or uncomfortable or embarressed.

Stress has almost always been used by me when there is what I perceive to be unneccesary pressure put onto me – usually by someone else (oh yes I do continually deal with my tendancy to blame others issues!), but once I have calmed down, usually with a bit of tapping, I accept it is in me (fear, anxiety of getting it wrong, being criticised, thinking my behaviour may have set up a particular response in relationships etc)). The problem with this approach for me is a tendency to internalise things and then being aware enough to deal with any issues that resultant energy blocks may create in me . I am searching for the right balance, which I expect will be a work in progress for the rest of my life!

I like the notion of using another term for positive stress ‘eustress’ . It should help us recognise the positive aspects, i.e the buzz, of the events/challenges we are engaged in. But then for me the problem would be recognising when eustress has become just stress – OMG I’m starting to get stressed about having to make that decision now!
Love Amer xxx


Thanks, Steve.
I can relate to Amer’s search for balance, and also to the value of eustress (yes, nice word!): joining a new family, with a step-daughter who pushes every button I possess, has taught me many things – notably that it’s possible for stress to be transformed into eustress, and release a lot of compassion and Love in the process.

With the stress diminishing, I have more excitement about what else is possible, what else I’m capable of transforming through the energy of eustress, and the use of tapping, and the power of being that compassion and Love.

I’m grateful for the timing of your newsletter, as it’s enabled me pull these realisations together – thank you!

With Love,

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