When someone says, “I feel stressed.”
… It’s often meant as a bad thing.
But for a moment, imagine how much more you’d get done — and how easy it would be to overcome the challenges of work and everyday life — if you enjoyed stress.
Well friends, I have some good news…
Because I’m about to show you that “stress” might actually be the best thing for you. And when you understand the benefits of stress, I suspect you’ll start savoring it as much as I do.
But first, a short story…
As many of you know, I started running Strategic Profits at the beginning of last year.
And with it, came more responsibilities than I’ve ever managed before, like leading a team, executing multiple projects at once, driving forward both product marketing and fulfillment, business development, customer service, and anything else that needs to get done, but lacks a dedicated team member.
Plus, when I started the role, we were planning a big launch for Steal Our Winners, which in itself, had more moving pieces than any campaign I’ve ever been a part of.
Point being, I was faced with challenges unlike any I had overcome before.
And there were many late nights and long weekends at the office.
But whenever I would lay in bed at night and talk with my wife, I wouldn’t complain about all the fires I had to put out that day.
Instead, I’d tell her how much I LOVED doing it.
And the same is true today.
Now, many people in this situation would’ve been scared, or nervous, or anxious, or intimidated. And all of those words could’ve easily characterized the emotions I was feeling.
But instead of looking at my situation through a negative lense…
I viewed my stress as excitement.
“This is fun,” I’d tell myself.
And it’s a habit I’ve worked hard to develop whenever the butterflies in my stomach are flapping at top speed.
Because 95 times out of 100, those butterflies mean I’m doing something that’s pushing me to my outer limits and forcing me to grow as a person.
I’m getting better.
And even though this is a simple shift in perspective, it makes a profound difference.
But here’s the cool part…
I’m not some freak of nature who doesn’t get stressed.
On the contrary, it’s taken my whole life to get to this point (and I still have room to improve).
But one thing that’s helped me get here is by researching the best ways to deal with my emotions, which nowadays, isn’t too hard considering the Internet and the litany of academic literature on the subject.
For instance, most people don’t realize that psychologists have identified two types of stress:
Distress: This is the common form of stress that causes dissatisfaction and depression.
Eustress: This is positive stress that causes enjoyment, focus, and personal growth.
But here’s the crazy part…
Scientists found that the type of event doesn’t impact whether it causes distress or eustress. It’s the way we perceive these events that determine if we grow or suffer because of them.
For one person, a terminal cancer diagnosis might give them a newfound appreciation for life and force them to reconnect with an estranged family member.
But for another, it could send them down a spiraling depression full of anger and resentment.
As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (don’t ask me how to pronounce it), wrote in his iconic book, Flow:
“How we feel about ourselves, the joy we get from living, ultimately depend directly on how the mind filters and interprets everyday experiences.”
In other words:
“The control of consciousness determines the quality of life,” writes Csikszentmihalyi.
That means that your job… or your spouse… or your President… aren’t responsible for your distress.
Personally, when I first uncovered this idea, it was a breakthrough for me. And since then, through study and practice, I’ve learned how to control the way I perceive stress.
And it’s been a game-changer.
Because now I find high-stakes, high-intensity work to be some of the most enjoyable, fulfilling, and satisfying experiences of my life.
And I suspect that by making a simple tweak to your own narrative about stress, the same could happen for you too.
You pen pal,