September 23, 2023

The blessing and curse of stress

From Volume 12, Issue 4:Stress. We all feel it. It’s a deadline that seems impossible. Perhaps it’s a goal that’s slipping out of reach. Maybe it’s a relationship that’s changing, or just “change” itself. Job is gone. Money’s short. I’m overweight. The kids.

Operationally, we understand stress as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

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Maybe. Maybe not.

From Volume 10, Issue 7:We’re human. We judge. It’s what we do. Good, bad. Right, wrong. Pretty, ugly. Useful, useless. Fast, slow. True, false. (I refer to this tendency in each of us as our Knower/Judger, or K/J.)

How do we make those judgments? We compare what’s happening right now with history lessons from our past. Our K/J has set up a database that can be quickly accessed to help us make snap decisions (not really decisions at all, but actually programmed responses) that help us get through life with a minimum of work. We are, as a species, pretty lazy sometimes. And as long as these responses generally work for us, we probably don’t see any reason to look for new ways to respond.

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Letting go

From Volume 10, Issue 5:My world has been filled lately by people, pets, and possessions evacuating from my space.

Poof! They’re gone. Friends, acquaintances, friend’s pets, a friendly o’possum that frequented my back yard in the evenings, one of my 10mm open-end wrenches, and my PowerPoint clicker. I wake up and my world is altered by the vacuum of something missing.

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Expectations and Aspirations

From Volume 9, Issue 2:My mentor, Jut Meininger, spent the last three years of his life attempting to get me to see the futility of having expectations. “Give up your expectations,” Jut would tell me from his Knower/Judger, “and you will completely eliminate frustration.” (I’ve been known to be very frustrated on and off during my life…many of you may have witnessed this!) My response from my K/J was, “How does someone with the goal-oriented K/J set of rules actually accomplish anything? Don’t we have to have expectations in order to succeed?” Jut’s been gone six years now, and his wisdom is finally sinking in.

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A Special Case of Sad

From Volume 7, Issue 10:In one week, a friend lost his 22-year-old sister, another lost her nephew who was to be in a wedding in two weeks, and another became a grandfather to a non-viable baby who would live no longer than a few hours after birth. Two more friends lost their dogs (one to old age and one to the front bumper of a speeding pick-up truck) and another had their family cat run away. All these friends read this e-zine.

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Oh, Bother

From Volume 7, Issue 3:Winnie the Pooh could not express the frustrations in his life with true expletives, so when faced with an unmet expectation, he would simply utter, “Oh, bother.” I don’t know what your version of “Oh, bother” is. As I’ve said before, for almost my whole life, mine has been “Goddamn!” (Pooh could never have said that.) A look at how Pooh uses “Oh, bother” is giving me a new perspective on how I can begin to change a habit I really don’t need anymore.

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Learning from My Mistakes: A Surprising Lesson

From Volume 6, Issue 12:If we learn from our mistakes, then I’m working on my third PhD. The last month has been a rush for me. I host this annual Christmas party, and my Knower/Judger usually gets me into some kind of project that just has to be completed before the first guest arrives. And they’re usually not small projects. This year, I did it again. The difference is, I finally learned something

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