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.