One of the most valuable parts of getting involved in Playing For Others is the “”LifeTalk”” component.

Recently, I sat in on a talk about “”Choosing Stress””. Where does it come from? What is good stress? What is bad stress? Why do we sometimes manufacture it?

This was never something that I even talked about until college, so having this level of discussion with people as young as 14 has been a huge eye opener. I have taken great pride in my abilities, not to manage stress, but to cope with huge amounts of it and somehow feel like I am still happy and successful.

Growing up, it seemed like being busy was a great thing. Biting off more than you could chew could lead to new adventures, bigger responsibilities, and of course exciting payoffs. As I have grown older, I realize that many times we choose to take bites of things that we truly don’t want any taste of simply to please others, to fit in, or worse yet to be a different person that we think the world will like better. Ignoring the instincts and impulses that live within us can have a detrimental impact on not only our mental and physical health, but also our relationships because the world is missing out on the true gift of who we really are meant to become.

So many times, I choose stress so I feel like I am accomplishing something important when really if I examine the situation, it is simply because I am procrastinating something that I truly do not want to do. In the case of this blog post, it can be the opposite of elevating a task to a level of importance that then creates a stressful trigger to make it perfect, so therefore when will one have the time to begin something that they know that they cannot make perfect. In reality, most of us choose stress, maybe because the fight or flight mechanism is born in us as a survival skill. Surviving in life is vital, the most important thing we can do, right?

But what if we asked ourselves, rather demanded that we thrive instead of survive? What if we looked at each opportunity or task given and really weighed whether or not it was something that would propel us to a higher self instead of making a busier self. Listening to the teens talk about their stesses of school work, tests, college acceptance, and peer relations made me remember those days and how sometimes I felt doomed with no end in sight. Gratefully, my survival skills have allowed me to reach 41 and keep going, but now I recognize when I am choosing stress and the most powerful word that I can say sometimes feels like a mighty sword, “”no.”” No, I will not commit to that which doesn’t make me grow. No I will not stay in or engage in relationships that do not produce a heavier percentage of joy than misery. No I will not belabor the tasks that are healthy for me because their discomfort and difficulty causes fear and therefore I allow my stress to take over and suck the enjoyment out of the accomplishment.

For many people, this is the daily struggle. Even as early as 14 or younger. Teaching kids now the power of their worth and their obligation to not be stingy with it is priceless. As we work together on big projects, we put our passions in overdrive and also must find the tools to keep steering us in the right direction so we all cross the finish line together. Leading a group can be stressful unless you use your other most powerful word, “”yes.”” Yes I will give you my full attention and be present when you speak. Yes, I will carve out the time needed to honor the task at hand and to provide support for those struggling to do their best. Yes, I will open myself to new bright opportunities because without them my heart, mind and spirit could not continue to grow.

In the heat of the moment, even doing something that lights you up, you can experience stress to solve the problem but maybe we need to rephrase that as friction. Bumping up against something great doesn’t always go smoothly, so we must prepare ourselves to handle the bumps in the road with grace.

As an exercise, for the last two weeks, I decided that stress itself and all of its negative triggers are a choice only, like deciding on a movie to watch or a beverage to order. I have chosen to not choose it. I have never felt more free, almost in a fog of peace. When something pops up, I have responded with calm and understanding and most of that has been for me. I have spoken more softly to my children, to my pets, to my friends and family. I have looked more people in the eye when they are speaking because I am not checking my phone and worried about who else is trying to contact me and how I will need to put out that fire. I have felt more able to love and show love to others. If we begin to recognize the stress in our lives, we have no need to put on a false rosy view of things. We can look at it as the scared new kid in the room who just wants someone to smile at them.

PFO has taught me that all of the success of our program starts with the yes and jumping in with both feet. Without stress to get in the way, we can raise our vibration and make a real difference in the world.