By Greg Hartle
Self-help ideas and work has been around since the beginning of time.
The Scriptures, which may have been the first book, may also have been the first self-help guide. Millions of personal growth books have flooded the world ever since.
The recurring theme of personal growth is to be stress free and happy. Yet there is more poverty, failure, addiction, despair, hate, and unhappiness than ever before.
Because human beings prefer stress over peace and happiness.
Every single one of us, me included. This explains why I’ve sabotaged myself so many times. And you probably have too. People will say they don’t want stress, but they really do. Which is why they don’t really change. Which is why they keep coming back for more even though they already know everything they need to know. Which is why they pretend they’re doing the work when they really aren’t. Which is partly why the personal growth industry is broken. Once I discovered people prefer stress over peace and happiness, the world became real clear to me.
Yes, you prefer stress. You prefer stress because…
IT GIVES YOU A SENSE OF IMPORTANCE. One as stressed as you must be working very hard. This makes you a very important person. No doubt others are counting on you, right? You will continue this as long as you can impress others with your stress. Maybe you’ll slow down one of these days, then again no you won’t.
IT HELPS YOU AVOID RESPONSIBILITY. One as stressed as you certainly should not be given any more duties. In fact, you don’t have time to be in full integrity with your current duties. That would require you to do mundane tasks that you’ve committed to, but continually fail to follow-through to completion. Like keeping appointments, keeping things clean, health maintenance, healthy eating, or checking in with friends and family. You’re so busy you don’t have time for these things. If you have a free moment there’s only one thing you can fill it with, mindless entertainment of course!
IT GIVES YOU A CHEMICAL RUSH. Stress is the cheapest drug on the market. You can take a hit anytime. Just create a problem with your boss, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc., and you’ve given yourself permission to be stressed, stressed, stressed. This creates all sorts of drama with the people around you, and you are suddenly the center of attention. And attention is what you crave isn’t it?
IT HELPS YOU MAINTAIN YOUR POOR ME IMAGE. When you are overstressed people feel sorry for you, don’t they? Perhaps they will come to your rescue. Perhaps they will join your pity-party. After all, misery loves company. A poor me image means you will never have to change or solve your own problems. That’s hard work and you’re only going to change if there’s an easy fix. Some magical formula. I guess you could say, some secret.
IT HELPS YOU AVOID THE RESPONSIBILITY OF SUCCESS. Why should you take the risk of being successful? More responsibility, higher expectations, tougher decisions, and bigger jobs! By staying stressed you can avoid all this. Stress keeps your performance at a low level so success will never be a threat. All you have to do is keep success at arm’s length and you win against responsibility.
Don’t exercise. It takes too much time for busy people to maintain their muscles and heart. It’s too tough to get started anyway.
Eat what you want. You only live once, right?
Ignore your weight issues. Or better yet, keep pretending like you want to do something about it, but then really don’t.
Use plenty of stimulants. Take advantage of that caffeine, nicotine, and sugar. There’s no way you could get through your day without it.
Avoid all religious and spiritual disciplines. Ignore prayer, meditation, yoga, reading, and the mental practices. Limit your Eastern thought to Toyota and Sony.
Ignore all support systems. Let people know they come second to your personal activities and interests. Keep your wall up at all times. And above all, never admit or share your problems. And if you do share, make sure to spend at least an hour gossiping in order to expose someone else as well.
Personalize all criticism. Treat all recommendations and suggestions as if you are under attack. Return the attack. Get personal. Use insults and be sure to tell others how upset you are. Then go silent and assassinate the other person in your mind.
Be tough. Never ask for help. If you want it done right, do it yourself.
Be a workaholic. It’s not as hard as you pretend it to be. Just put your work ahead of everyone and everything. Work harder because that means you care more. Work nights and weekends. Take your work home with you. And if you really love your stress, take your work on vacation. After all, what if no one misses you at work?
Be available to everyone, for anything, no matter how busy you are. Never be firm or assertive when it comes to getting your own responsibilities done. And, of course, schedule more things than you can possibly get done so you can avoid the risk of achievement.
Avoid self-reflection. Remember, if you actually deal with it, you run the risk of putting your life in perspective. Just concentrate on getting close enough to the trees that you don’t have to look at the forest.
Procrastinate. Putting things off is always good for keeping stress high.
Worry about things you can’t control. That’s a great way to stay busy and never productive.
Keep being just as you are. Ignore the symptoms no matter how much you are stressed. Just keep your head down and keep moving forward. You’re already burned out so don’t stop now. Remember, you are a professional, so make sure your stress is equal to the best of them.
Avoid living from your values. Do the easy things first and put off the important stuff. Do stuff that brings instant pleasure instead of the tougher things that lead to lasting happiness.
Finally, become a perfectionist. Set impossible goals so you never reach them. Then beat yourself up and be sure to feel guilty.
Do the opposite.
Random Writers would like to thank Greg Hartle for being a guest contributor to our site for this week’s topic. Along with launching the life experiment Ten Dollars and a Laptop, Greg Hartle consults and speaks professionally with businesses, non-profits, and other groups on 21st century capitalism, leadership, and integral life strategies. You can also find Greg on Twitter at @GregHartle