Stress Goes With Meaning

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In The Upside of Stress, Dr. Kelly McGonigal tells us:

Stress is what arises when something you care about is at stake. This definition is big enough to hold both the frustration over traffic and the grief over a loss. It includes your thoughts, emotions, and physical reactions when you’re feeling stressed, as well as how you choose to cope with situations you’d describe as stressful. This definition also highlights an important truth about stress: Stress and meaning are inextricably linked. You don’t stress about things you don’t care about, and you can’t create a meaningful life without experiencing some stress.” What are the best predictors of a meaningful life? “Surprisingly, stress ranked high. In fact, every measure of stress that the researchers asked about predicted a greater sense of meaning in life. People who had experienced the highest number of stressful life events in the past were most likely to consider their lives meaningful. People who said they were under a lot of stress right now also rated their lives as more meaningful. Why are stress and meaning so strongly linked? “One reason is that stress seems to be an inevitable consequence of engaging in roles and pursuing goals that feed our sense of purpose. When people report the biggest sources of stress in their lives, topping the list are work, parenting, personal relationships, caregiving, and health.” “Rather than being a sign that something is wrong with your life, feeling stressed can be a barometer for how engaged you are in activities and relationships that are personally meaningful. Scientists call this the Stress Paradox: “High levels of stress are associated with both distress and well-being. Importantly, happy lives are not stress-free, nor does a stress-free life guarantee happiness. It turns out that a meaningful life is also a stressful life.

I was feeling a little stressed about what I was going to share today. I thought my mornings might be less stressful if I were not working so hard on this guide.

Then I thought “Perfect!”, today we will share that stress goes with meaning. I signed up to help create this guide because I consider this meaningful work. Stress and meaning go together.

Again, McGonigal tells us: “Rather than being a sign that something is wrong with your life, feeling stressed can be a barometer for how engaged you are in activities and relationships that are personally meaningful.”

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