Man’s way of life in the modern age is one of the main causes of stress. Somehow modern life and stress seem to go together. The way we live, the way we work, the way we talk and the way we function everyday, contribute to the building up of stress. People rush about all the time, as though they were carrying the entire burden of the world upon their shoulders. People rush about, accumulating what they think they need—only to realise that they don’t need it at all. They resemble squirrels in a cage—running, running all the time—but getting nowhere.
We seem to be in a hurry all the time. It is not only when we are on our feet that we are hurrying; when we are seated, at rest, our minds are rushing somewhere or the other too. We maybe waiting in an outer office, waiting for an appointment with a doctor, waiting for an interview call—but we are hurrying, rushing in our thoughts. This mental rush, this mental hurry is one of the main causes of tension.
We need to take it easy. Take it easy, my brother! Take it easy, sister! There is a word, which Spanish people use often. Whenever two Spaniards meet, they say to each other, “Tranquilo! Tranquilo!” Tranquilo means—take it easy! This is the message which all of us need today—Take it easy! Take it easy!
Tom was relaxing under a tree when another man who knew him, came there. The second man disapproved Tom’s relaxing as he thought Tom was wasting time.
“What are you doing Tom?” the man asked him sternly.
“Why sir, I’m just enjoying myself,” Tom replied.
“Why don’t you get up and work, Tom?” the man said to him in a tone of disapproval.
“What for?” Tom wanted to know.
“If you work hard, you will be able to earn money!” explained the man patiently.
“But what for, sir?” Tom persisted.
“If you make money, you can save some of it.”
“If you save money, you can have plenty of leisure.”
“If you have leisure you can go out on a holiday.”
“If you go out on a holiday you will be able to enjoy life.”
“But sir,” exclaimed Tom, “that’s what I’m doing already!”
We don’t have to be lazy like the man in the story—but at least, we must avoid needless hurry. As the proverb tells us, “Haste makes waste.”
Why do we get stressed?
Haste and rashness are like storms and tempests, which break and wreck people’s lives and their businesses. How much we lose out on the little joys of life when we cannot walk, talk or listen slowly. The great athletic trainer, William Muldoon observed: “People don’t die of disease; they die of internal combustion.” As we rush about our life, stress keeps on building within, until it leads us to a nervous breakdown or a heart attack—internal combustion.
Another cause of stress is irritation. We give in to irritation again and again. We may not always show it—but the irritation inside burns up our emotional energy uselessly. Every time you are irritated, you are burning up valuable emotional energy, which can be used constructively.
We must develop the patience to curb irritation. A Dutch proverb tells us: “A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.” Wise men like Benjamin Franklin would agree: “He that can have patience can have what he will.”
Yet another cause of stress is that we are overwhelmed by the problems we face. I always say that problems are wonderful presents that are thrown at us by Providence—only, we fail to recognise the gift because it comes wrapped up in a soiled package. The word ‘problem’ is derived from the Latin word “pro balo”—that which is deliberately thrown in our way. It is because we react to problems negatively that we create panic and stress within us.
It has been said that a problem is like a pebble. If you hold it close to your eye, it seems magnified, and it blocks your entire vision. Hold it at an arm’s length and you can see its shape, its colour and its size. Drop it at your feet and you can effortlessly walk over it!
Another reason why we react negatively to stress situations is mental fatigue and exhaustion. We are often apt to underestimate the demands of intellectual or mental work, as against hard physical labour. Psychiatrists say that people who work with their brains need more sleep and rest than manual workers. When mental fatigue sets in, we cannot think clearly or react reasonably.
Picture a man sitting slouched on a sofa. His shoulders are drooping. His head is down, and he is holding his chin in both his hands. His entire body seems to be drooping. Is this not how many of us are at the end of a day’s work? What a weary burden we have made of a day, which had been God’s brand new gift to us just a few hours ago?
A man went to his Guru, complaining of utter fatigue and exhaustion. “Swamiji, I just cannot cope anymore,” he complained. “Please help me!”
The Guru took him to an inner chamber, where there were two clocks on the table. Both were ticking away merrily. One was a freestanding clock; the other was connected to the mains with a power cable.
“This clock will keep going for less than 24 hours,” said the Guru, pointing to the first one. “After just one day, it will slow down and begin to lose time gradually. I have to come in every morning and wind it up to keep it going, or else it will soon come to a stop.”
He pointed to the electric clock. “This one you can see, is connected to a source of high power, and with the energy from that source, it keeps going on and on. It does not need to be wound up every day. It just goes on, ticking merrily.”
The man stared at the two clocks, unable to understand what the Guru was saying.
“You must connect yourself to God—the Source of the highest, purest and best energy in the Universe,” said the Guru. “Then you will not have to wind your self, or give your self a boost. You will draw all the energy and wisdom of the Universe through your connection with God, and nothing can stop you!”
The world looks bleak and miserable to those who are fatigued. Give the body enough sleep; recharge your heart and soul by connecting yourself to God constantly. Then, your soul can work to relieve your stress and restore your depleted energy.
This was published in the May 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
Spot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!