The Upside of Stress

Kelly McGonigal gave a talk on How to Turn Stress into an Advantage from her new book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It. The talk took place at the 2015 99U conference at Lincoln Center in New York City.

joy learning love laughterIn Kelly’s research, she learned that a high stress index correlates with high joy, learning, love, and laughter. The stress index is a measure of the percent of people who say they experienced a high level of stress on a given day. Kelly calls this the “stress paradox.” We might wish for a less stressful life, but stress can be a barometer for how engaged you are in your life that bring joy, that bring laughter, that bring learning, that bring love!

Another study by Baumeister, Vohs, Aaker, and Gabrinsky in 2013 asked people between the ages of 18 and 78 to respond to the statement, “I consider my life to be meaningful.” One of the best predictors of a meaningful life is the level of stress. This is also correlated with the degree of worry that people have in their lives.”

A study by Crum, Salovey, and Achor at Yale University in 2013 revealed that people who thought that stress is positive and should be embraced had a higher sense of well-being than those who thought that stress was negative and should be avoided.

How you think about stress can make a difference in how that stress impacts everything from your physiology, resilience, your well-being, and how well you do the things that matter to you.

The way Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us to handle emotions like stress, anger, resentment, and others is to embrace them. Recognize them for what they are. Feel what they feel like in your body. Experience them as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Then, watch how they change and recognize their impermanence.

I think that modern neuroscientific research is confirming this ancient wisdom of the Buddhas.

What do you think about stress now? Are you willing to embrace the upside of stress, as Kelly asks you to do in the video?

Books by Kelly McGonigal

The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It

Kelly McGonigal

The author of The Willpower Instinct delivers a controversial and groundbreaking new book that overturns long-held beliefs about stress.

More than forty-four percent of Americans admit to losing sleep over stress. And while most of us do everything we can to reduce it, Stanfo… [Read More…]

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