Accepting positive stress

If we start from the premise that “life is a wonderful thing but it could also turn into hell if one is not careful,” then it quickly becomes clear why stress, in turn, can be equally wonderful or fatal. It is difficult situations that push people to work hard to overcome them and get the results they set out to achieve. Let’s think about the first date with a girl or a guy, how did it feel, was it quiet, no for sure. Was one thinking will he come or won’t he come, will I be clumsy? It is only by putting yourself in that stressful situation that you were able to experience that feeling of uncertainty and then pleasure. It is from the challenges (which are the stressors) that the response or positive stress arises. By challenges one should not only mean the extreme ones of Olympic champions or those related to one’s professional accomplishment, both of which require long-term work of continuous skill acquisition and improvement.

Challenge is also more than that. Even seemingly simple challenges, such as finding time during the week to do something you enjoy (a walk, going to the movies, meeting with friends). In this case, the challenge is to do something you enjoy, for the sake of doing it, to achieve immediate goals, to feel pleasure or to have fun. In this sense, as long ago as many years ago Michael Argyle (1987), a scholar of the psychology of happiness, stated that leisure outside of work is one of the best predictors of well-being, and that enjoyment positively influences couple relationships and social life, which are also key indices of well-being. What is proposed, then, is to develop an active lifestyle, synonymous with a life not only crushed by professional and family duties but in which there is room for activities that promote pleasure and satisfaction. It is an invitation to people to prefer experiences to passivity brought about by comforts (“Why should I go out, toil, when I can be so comfortable on the couch watching TV”), to do rather than to have (“but if I buy myself that electronic contraption that makes me slim while sitting, why should I go on a diet and go to the gym?”).

These ideas are not new!!! Benjamin Franklin, an 18th-century scientist and politician, argued that teaching a young man to shave and keep his razor sharp would contribute far more to his happiness than giving him 1,000 guineas to squander. Money would have left only remorse. Whereas knowing how to shave frees a man from the barber’s harassment, his sometimes dirty fingers, offensive breaths and unsharp razors. Adam Smith, economist and philosopher, also in the same century said that it was a pleasure to stand and observe how a fine watch was made, even if the extreme accuracy in its construction was of no practical use.

Taking on this new way of thinking is about taking care of oneself; it means paying attention not so much to the grandeur of the changes we might achieve after a year and at the cost of great sacrifice. Generally, setting long-term goals indicates more of a person’s aspiration to achieve a certain ambitious result, but precisely because one is at the same time aware of how much effort one will have to put into achieving it can be perceived as unattainable. Conversely, reasoning about weekly goals that are perceived as attainable will motivate one to start devoting time to something he or she enjoys.

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