Would you be surprised to learn that April 16 has been proclaimed National Stress Awareness Day in the United States?
Once you realize that that is the day before income taxes are due, the date makes sense: paying taxes is stressful.
What else causes most of us stress on a daily basis? Children not doing what we need them to do, spouses fighting with us over money or where to go for vacation, demands at work that we aren’t sure we can meet, having to make presentations in front of others who might judge us, fighting traffic, paying bills, etc., etc., etc.
Almost everything is a potential source of stress. Many books and articles have been written that proclaim life in the 21st century—with all the demands on our time and the constant change that seems to be a regular part of our lives—is inherently stressful.
The real source of stress
I beg to differ. I don’t think any of the things I’ve mentioned actually cause stress. In fact I contend that events can’t possibly cause stress. Stress and all other feelings are caused primarily by the meaning we give to events that have no inherent meaning. Because events have no inherent meaning, they cannot cause emotions.
Most people, when they hear me say that, usually respond: “Of course events have meaning. If a friend stops talking to you, you will be hurt. If you get fired from your job unexpectedly, you will be upset. If your children don’t listen to you, you will get angry. What do you mean events can’t cause emotions? They do every day!”
Let’s do a little thought exercise so I can demonstrate to you that events have no inherent meaning. Imagine it is late at night and you are about to go to sleep. You have no intention of leaving the house. As you are about to turn off the light you notice that it has started to rain. Does the rain make you feel anything? Unless you are one of those rare people who like the sound of rain on the roof as you fall asleep, you probably will respond: No, it doesn’t make me feel anything.
Now let’s change the situation. Imagine you are a farmer and it hasn’t rained for weeks and your crops are dying. Suddenly it starts raining and your crops are saved. How does the rain make you feel now? Most people would answer: It makes me feel good, happy.
One more situation: Imagine you are getting married outdoors. Right in the middle of the ceremony it starts raining and you and the rest of the wedding party get soaking wet. How does the rain make you feel now? Most people would answer: I’d feel bad, upset.
Given these answers, I have a question for you: Does rain make you feel nothing, good, or bad? … Can you get that the rain itself doesn’t make you feel anything. What produces the feelings are the meaning you give the rain. When you don’t give it any meaning, you have no feelings. When you say it is saving my crops, that meaning makes you feel good. And when you say it is ruining my wedding, that meaning makes you feel bad.
Can you get that the events have no inherent meaning and result in no feelings? When you give an event a meaning, the meaning determines what you feel.
Research proves eliminating meaning reduces stress
As further evidence that stress is a function of meaning and not the events themselves, the University of Arizona recently completed a study that demonstrated that people who eliminated the 19 beliefs and four conditionings on our Natural Confidence program reduced their level of stress on a measure that correlates highly with health and illness, by over 50%.
In other words, if you get rid of a lot of negative meanings about yourself, such as I’m not good enough, I’m not capable, and I’m not important, and meanings about life, such as mistakes and failure are bad—you can cut your stress in half.
Dissolve meaning and dissolve your stress
Now it’s really getting interesting. If events can’t make us feel anything and all our feelings—good and bad—come from the meaning we give the events, if we could learn how to get rid of “negative” meanings we could get rid of all negative feelings.
Take a moment and let that sink in. If we could dissolve the meanings that cause our stress, our anxiety, our fear, our sadness, our anger, etc.—and we actually can—we could create our experience of life, moment by moment.
I’ve described in earlier blog posts (https://www.mortylefkoe.com/lets-play-game-dissolve/# , https://www.mortylefkoe.com/real-meaning/# , https://www.mortylefkoe.com/why-create-meaning/# ) and in a recent video (http://occurringcourse.com/#) how you can dissolve meaning.
Try it and see if on April 16 when everyone else is celebrating their awareness of stress, you can be celebrating “I Don’t Feel Any Stress” Day.
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