Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Change Your Story to Find Serenity and Lose Stress

Yes, it’s just like those paradoxes we know from recovery: “You have to give it away to keep it.” and “You have to surrender to win.” Now here is a new one –on stress--in a brand new book:
It’s not really stress that is stressing you out, it is the story of stress that you’ve been told, and that you tell yourself. But serenity is yours by simply changing your mind.  (And a couple of habits) And the stories that you tell yourself.

That is the message and guidance in a brand new book—published yesterday—called “Seeking Serenity—The 10 New Rules for Health and Happiness in the Age of Anxiety.”
The author, Amanda Enayati—is a technology columnist and wellness speaker but also and crucially—she’s a researcher. And what she has done differently from every other writer with advice on stress—Enayati went looking for the back-story on stress, and in making sense of the history she has created a map to wind our way out.

That’s pretty smart. And she is.

Enayati had a very stressful life. A big New York City attorney, a witness to 9/11, with the fallout depression afterward, then followed by a diagnosis of late-stage cancer, and then a total reevaluation of
her life (there is that cancer gift again)—and a complete remission. But she was left with soooooo many questions. And being a writer/columnist/researcher she went looking at the science of stress and discovered the cultural/business side of the issue du jour for all of us.

What she lays out for us in “Seeking Serenity” is that while we act like, and react like, stress is a real and tangible thing that we have to manage and defeat, stress is actually a cultural construct, a social construct, and sadly—and frighteningly—stress is a marketing construct.

You’ll either laugh or cry when you read Enayati’s revelations on the role Big Tobacco played in creating the concept of stress so they could market their best-known stress-relievers. (Yep, cigarettes) But the damage was bigger than lung cancer—it was also a kind of cultural cancer. Marketers of tobacco, alcohol, certain foods, and now even treatments, had to –in order to sell us their solutions—first sell us on the belief in stress.

Stress is a belief system. Think about that. That’s what Enayati is telling us in her new book: if we believe in stress, and that we are stressed, then we are perfectly pre-set to buy all manner of stress relief and stress remedies.

Of course, she doesn’t leave us hanging there shaking our heads. That would be cruel and just too stressful—so she also gives us The 10 New Rules—that is the subtitle of her book.

This is really a very smart book, and a very new way of looking at stress and personal belief and the simple choices we can make—actually without the huge life changes that we always think we’ll have to make. But which, in fact, stress most of into feeling more stress.

God grant me the serenity—to get smarter about stress and to make some pretty simple choices and changes.

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