Shahriar Shahriari

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Stress? What Stress?

We all have an image of what our ideal world should be like. Whenever our actual world does not reflect our desires, we sense a shortcoming, a something missing. One way of experiencing this shortcoming, this missing "thing" is stress.

Our ideal or desired world represents a potentiality. Our existing world, our reality reflects an actuality. The difference between the two represents an uphill incline, a path to traverse, a destination to reach, a challenge to overcome. And this is naturally a potential stress.

So how do we overcome this stress? There are two conventional ways, both of which are based on reducing the gap between our potential and actual worlds.

  1. Reduce our expectations and desires, so that our potential world approaches and more realistically resembles our actual world.
  2. Increase our activities and focus, so that our actual world approaches and more closely reflects our potential world.

Both of these techniques require us to have clarity of vision and perspective, energy, motivation and discipline. To closely know and define our desires, but also to clearly see our reality as it is, without any filters of wishful thinking or fear. To also manage our time and energy better. And to have the self-control to say "yes", when appropriate, and to say "no", when necessary.

But paradoxically, even with total clarity and the best control systems, we will only increase our stress.

In the first case, we know that we are compromising our desires and values, that we are not striving for our full potential, that we are short-changing ourselves. And this self-deception actually increases our inner turmoil and stress.

In the second case, we have to work harder, eliminate our time wasters, our diversions, and even some of our creativity and spontaneity, because we want to maintain our focus. We work smarter and harder, and burn out more dramatically. We miss the journey for arriving at the destination faster, only to realise that it was a simple step along our way to yet another destination. And the cycle of stress perpetually continues.

So is there a solution?

Perhaps the best way to solve this problem of stress is to rise above it. To go beyond the paradox, the either/or solutions, and perhaps instead of resolving the problem, we can simply dissolve it.

We are organic beings with a dynamic self-correcting, self-repairing body. When we are sick or injured, our body has a tendency to restore itself to health. Naturally, with proper intervention we can help our body and speed up the healing process.

Perhaps we can also consider our life as a dynamic self-adjusting and self-directing mechanism. And perhaps in the same way as we trust our body with its self-healing processes, we can trust our life with its self-directing processes.

With this basic assumption, we will understand that our life has a natural tendency to find the least wasteful path from actuality to potentiality. The path of least entropy, the stress free path.

And perhaps with certain interventions along the way, we can speed up the process.

With this attitude, we trust that whatever our objective is, we can simply focus on the process of achieving it, with full trust in the process itself. With this trust, we will devote most of our energy to the constructive work of manifesting our objectives, and not the wasteful and stressful process of worrying. We will perform better, and enjoy our moments and years more. And who knows, in the process, because of our ability to be aware and pay attention to the task at hand, we may even become better human beings.

Paradoxically, it is only by transcending the paradox that we can find the ideal approach. It is only by dissolving the problem of stress that we can truly resolve it.

Denial and suppression only exacerbate the situation. But faithfully and wisely trusting the nature of our life processes, we can safely say: "Stress? What stress?"

Shahriar Shahriari
October 1996,
Vancouver Canada
The Axis (Portland OR.) - January 1997

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