In a recent blog post, I addressed the fact that, as insane as it sounds, stress is actually attractive to us on a subconscious level. Now that you’re aware of that fact, it’s also important to become aware, on a conscious level, of the fact that we are encouraged to be stressed.
We've all heard the expression, "No pain, no gain." Have you ever stopped and thought about what that means? In order to acquire anything you want, you will have to hurt for it.
Some religions teach the virtue of suffering as an outright tenet. As a child raised in a rather strict religious environment, I was taught, among other things, that I could offer up my daily misery in order to have the sins of a soul in purgatory forgiven so he or she could finally be lifted into heaven. (If you're not familiar, purgatory is a sort of waiting station between death and heaven where you end up if your record is not that great or you've committed a lot of sins.)
Athletes are frequently lauded if they do whatever's necessary to continue playing after an injury. As one of my more observant friends put it, "Tape it, ice it and get back in the game." At the entrance to my gym is a banner with a picture of a fit young man on it. He's on a stationary bike, gritting his teeth and there's a thin film of sweat on his forehead. Splashed across the banner are the words, "Ignore your limits." Ignore them. Don't even set a really high bar and work long and hard to achieve it so you can feel proud of yourself. There is no bar. No matter how long and hard you're already working, work longer and harder!
It's important for us to be consciously aware of these reminders because the messages are often delivered subconsciously, and they work as intended. We're stressed before we even realize we're being directed to be so.
Once you know consciously that life doesn't really require stress, you can make a conscious choice not to be triggered by this encouragement.