These days, with the economy tanking, the internet is full of stress busting lists that suggest everything from breathing slowly to jump-starting a time management strategy to rewarding yourself in some way at the end of a stressful day. These are good ideas but they miss the crucial point that, biologically, stress is fear. If we want to end stress we need to get to its source, which is fear in whatever form it takes. Stress is a brain wired for survival that chronically perceives threats, even in the smallest matter. It’s called fight or flight. Most of the time, fight or flight begins with fearful thinking that generates negative emotions that together create the perception of a threatening world. When these reactions are intense they send the body into an uproar. Forty per cent of us are wired this way to a great degree; often more than we realize. Another forty percent are wired to a lesser degree.
The good news is: we can change the way our brain is wired. It takes a change of mind that generates the opposite experience of stress, which is peace. There are lots of ways to be at peace. I provide a list below. Applying just one of these attributes fully is all that’s needed to achieve a significant change in your level of stress.Recently, my friend, Martha, was asked by her mother-in-law to drive a neighbor to a doctor’s appointment. “She is very elderly,” her mother-in-law said. Martha was surprised to find that the woman was not as elderly as she expected. She looked to be in her mid to late seventies. “Do you mind my asking how old you are?” Martha asked on the drive to the doctor. “Ninety-three,” the woman answered. Martha was astonished. “You look so much younger,” she said. “What’s your secret?” “Twenty-three years ago,” she answered, “I made the decision to stop worrying. I have not wasted a moment on worry since.” As a result, biologically she is younger than her chronological age. On top of that, she has greater access, neurologically to creative and emotional intelligence because her brain is not toxic with stress hormones. Who does not want that?
Read the attributes of a dynamically peaceful attitude, listed below, and practice one for a week. See what happens to your brain.
ATTRIBUTES OF A DYNAMICALLY PEACEFUL ATTITUDE
- Free of worry
- A calm, clear sense of our own personal power and the integrity to assert our power without overpowering others
- Open-minded, receptive, and accepting
- A curiosity that is fully present
- Faith in the face of adversity
- Trust in the process
- Joy in a challenge
- A kind and empathic heart