Huffpost Healthy Living
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Julie Gray Headshot

Does Stress Validate Our Existence?

Posted: Updated:
HOWTODESTRESS

I hear it a thousand times a day. I used to say it as often:

I'm so stressed out

or

I'm so busy

or

I'm so tired

It has become a badge of belonging here in Los Angeles, and, I suspect, across much of America as well. How often have you proclaimed your absolute exhaustion? And -- what does that mean, exactly? If you are so tired, go to bed earlier. If you are so stressed, do some meditating or yoga. If you are -- well, you get the point.

I have a two-part theory.

Part One: Many of us actually opt to feel terrible and stressed (or at least say so repeatedly). Sure we could do yoga or meditation or take a run to feel better. And we do those things. But we keep saying we are feeling so stressed out. Because we want to feel this way. We need to feel this way because...

Part Two: Being stressed out and tired validates our existence as being, in some way, indispensable. If you are relaxed, happy and rested, you must be a real slouch. But being tired, well, that means you are on the go, a real mover and shaker -- what you do is important!

We say it constantly -- I'm a wreck! The kids drove me crazy today! You wouldn't believe the day I had! I have so much to do!

But -- was it that bad? Is this how we really want to feel in the day-to-day?

I absolutely believe that we can, moment by moment, choose how we feel. And no, it's not easy. It's not easy at all, to choose to feel good when one feels excluded, or unimportant or overwhelmed. But it is possible to feel, if not good, a little bit better.

Ask yourself how you want to feel, most of the time. Most of us would say peaceful, happy and relaxed. Well, of course. But many of us proclaim just the opposite, over and over again each day.

In America, we value working hard and being tired. Our personal and professional lives are blurred beyond recognition. Being tired is a badge of honor. Being jaded is a badge of experience. Being sarcastic is a badge of great intellect.

I suppose it's just all too boring to be rested, optimistic and kind. There is no positive measure of success, only the reverse. Especially in Hollywood, the town of smoke, mirrors and broken dreams where to be hopeful is to be naive and to be happy with who you are is delusional.

To be a woman in this illusory city, this tinsel town, is to be challenged constantly:

If you live in a city of beautiful, young, thin, blonde women, can you still know you are beautiful just as you are?

If you live in a city of obscenely expensive sports cars but drive something older, can you still know you are successful?

Can you still know that what you are doing matters and is important -- even if the movie/show doesn't get made or the promotion never comes?

In a city, a country and a time full of people convinced that money and material trappings are equal to success and happiness, can you still know that this is not true and be happy just to be living and breathing?

Can you know that your conscious choices and thoughts can direct your life to new vistas -- just because you believe what you think about and you think about good things, even in a society that seems to value negative thinking?

It is truly revolutionary to opt to feel good, as much as you can. To describe your days positively, to self-soothe when it wasn't so positive, to be kind to oneself and to stop caring what everybody else thinks. You can change your life by adopting this way of thinking, a thousand times more effectively than taking up yoga to feel better. It's not the yoga, it's the thought behind it that makes you feel better. It's the choosing to feel better and recognizing that feeling good, as much as one can, is what life is all about.

For in feeling good, you are a more effective, loving mother, father, employee, performer, friend or boss. You enjoy your days and nights more -- for you don't really know how many of those were allotted you. So feel good. And stop saying you don't. Believe that you are needed, important, effective and hard-working simply because you live and breathe on this planet -- the weight room of the universe. It's not only okay to feel good, it's your prerogative and your birthright.

Around the Web

20 Ways to Eliminate Stress From Your Life | zen habits

Feeling Frustrated? How To Feel Less Frustrated and Stressed

Tools and Tips for Living A Low-Stress, Healthy Lifestyle

Stress Management

Stressed-out? 25 ways to cut stress or stressful events in your life.

From Our Partners