Did you know that stress is not inherently stressful?
Sounds impossible, right? Well, it turns out that if stress were inherently stressful, we would all be stressed by the same things. And we’re not.
Some people are stressed by traffic. Some aren’t.
Some people are stressed by their families. Some aren’t.
Some people are stressed by snakes. Some aren’t – – but those people are usually stressed by spiders. Just saying.
Some life experiences do cause stress for most people. Illness, death, loss. I think we can agree that those are inherently stressful. But much of our day-to-day stress is not.
Years ago, I began using a formula to explain the effects of stress. Math was one of my best subjects in college, and my undergraduate advisor suggested I take more math classes. But I couldn’t justify it because I just didn’t see a future in numbers. It reminds me of a T-shirt I once saw that read, “I’m an English major. You do the math.”
That being said, there is a simple formula that explains the effects of stress. It goes like this:
Stressor + Interpretation = Effects of Stress
The stressor is an event or an experience in our lives. Our interpretation is how we view the event or the meaning we give to it. And the effect is the resulting impact of that interpretation.
If someone says something to you and you interpret it as intentionally rude or mean spirited, you will have a different reaction than if you interpret it as simply poor communication.
The challenge is that we don’t often stop to analyze or even recognize our interpretations. Instead, we just react. I call that a “kneeflex.” A knee-jerk reaction that is so automatic, it’s like a reflex and we don’t know we’re doing it.
Ultimately, we have the freedom to choose how we see everything. And if we pay attention to our interpretations and then change our perspective to something more positive, it might just be the difference between stress and stress-less-ness.
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About Ron Culberson
As a speaker, humorist, columnist, and author of Is Your Glass Laugh Full?, My Kneecap Seems Too Loose, and Do it Well. Make it Fun., Ron Culberson’s mission is to help staff and managers achieve a new level of success by understanding the power of Do it Well, Make it Fun. Success, even in tough times, comes from showing up and doing a great job. Ron helps staff become extraordinary by helping them focus on excellence while making their work experience more enjoyable. He also helps managers understand the qualities of an organizational culture that will attract great employees, develop excellent leaders, and deliver extraordinary products and services.
For ten years, Ron worked as a Home Care Social Worker, Counseling Manager, and Director of Quality Services for a large hospice organization in the Washington, DC suburbs. These experiences taught him about the challenges of working on the front line, in middle management, and ultimately in senior management. He has a proven track record as a successful member of a multidisciplinary team and as an effective senior leader.
In 2001 Ron received the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation, the highest earned designation from the National Speakers Association. The CSP is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform excellence.
In 2009, Ron cofounded Funner Speeches, LLC, a humor writing service for speakers, executives, and politicians. Ron and his partner help their clients make a greater impact with their presentations by making them funnier.
Ron’s business model also includes dedicating a significant portion of his time to volunteer service. He will be President of the National Speakers Association (NSA) in 2012. In 2010, he received the NSA President’s Distinguished Service Award He is Past President of the Washington, DC chapter of NSA where he received the Chapter Member of the Year Award, the Capital Outstanding Speaker Award, and the John J. Daly Founder’s Award. He has also served on numerous boards and committees for Capital Hospice, the Art Gliner Center for Humor Studies, and the Herndon Rotary club where he chaired two of their largest fundraisers. Ron has received the Rotarian of the Year, and the Four Avenues of Service Awards, two of the highest Rotary awards given.