By: Maria Pascucci
Sometimes it’s helpful to be grateful for the stress in our lives because not all stress is bad, especially if we learn to view stress through the lenses of opportunity.
1. My significant other and I are fighting incessantly. It’s really stressing me out.
2. I’ve been experiencing a lot of stomachaches and digestion troubles lately. The holidays are coming up. Great …
3. My Christmas budget is, well, nonexistent this year. How am I supposed to show up at parties without presents?
In each situation, we can easily see the negative and understand why a person would react with despair. The three situations aren’t exactly ideal, nor do they evoke happiness in and of themselves. But what if we could take those negative stressors and respond with gratitude? What if we could create positives from our negatives by searching for the opportunities, the lessons and the growth to be gained? That’s resilience.
1. Relationship stress affords us the opportunity to observe how we communicate with our loved ones. How do we react in tense situations with others? Do we listen, try to be empathic and allow our loved ones to be heard? How do we communicate our feelings? Do we bottle them up until we explode at will? Do we express ourselves in a way that allows our loved ones to really hear us and understand us? Are we willing to compromise on small things, while determining the things that we won’t compromise on? Are we learning more about the type of partner we want, and the type of partner we want to be for others? That’s definitely a learning experience to be grateful for!
2. Our bodies send us messages all the time that call for gratitude. When we experience stomachaches, or digestion troubles, our bodies are letting us know that something is off. Are we putting something into our bodies lately that’s difficult to digest? Do we have undiagnosed food allergies? Maybe it’s as simple as asking ourselves, “Have I been stressed out lately and skimping on sleep?”
In my early twenties, I experienced more stomach troubles than I would wish on anyone. Back then, I chose to put on my investigator hat. I learned through many painful meals that I was allergic to wheat and dairy. I also learned that when I get stressed out or skimp on sleep, my digestive track takes a hiatus. That’s my body’s way of telling me to slow down. I could very easily fall into despair, especially when my husband eats ice cream, or wheat bread with no discomfort what-so-ever, but I choose to think of it this way: my stomach troubles introduced me to a very healthy lifestyle at an early age, a lifestyle that serves me well and supplies me with the energy I need to live my best life. I’m grateful for that lesson every day of my life.
3. Christmas and consumerism don’t have to go hand in hand. Don’t have extra cash this year? Gather your family and brainstorm new traditions to start that are priceless in memories to be made. Perhaps instead of monetary gifts, we can give the gift of our time, our patience and our presence this coming holiday season. We can also choose to see financial challenges as opportunities to step into our higher potential. What day-at-a-time opportunities can we create for ourselves to achieve financial and personal growth?
This doesn’t mean that we’re not allowed to be angry when life presents us with stressful situations. This also doesn’t mean that we’re grateful for the stressors themselves. But I know for a fact that the more we flex our resiliency muscles, looking for lessons in stressful situations, the quicker we will get back to our natural state of health and happiness.
My book Campus Calm University, opens with a quote spoken by author Denis Waitley. He says, “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experiences of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
This Thanksgiving, I will give thanks for every stressor I’ve met with this year because of the lessons they taught me and the strengths they’ve brought out in me. How will you greet stress with gratitude?
Check out the following YouTube video with Denis Waitley on the power of rejection and perseverance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP-OSWRj-h4
Life your vision of a happy, purposeful life,
Founder & President, Campus Calm