Why are you stressed? Turns out, that’s the key question.
Rabbi Harold Kushner writes of a study, some years ago, at Duke University Medical Center. They gathered up a couple hundred Type A people, the hard drivers who are always on the run, always working, honking at the guy in front of them who doesn’t take off like a rocket when the light turns green.
They assumed that all these Type A’s were killing themselves with stress.
They found, however, that some were sick, and some were quite healthy. The difference turned out to be the reason they worked so hard.
The ones who toiled for hours because they wanted to see a great idea become reality, because they wanted to make a difference in the world, because they loved to see how their work changed things for the better—they were fine.
The ones who were sick were those who never let up because it’s a jungle out there; they were suspicious of others, needed to get the goods first—before someone else did. They were ambitious, chasing something that would make them a “success.”
It’s not just ok to have stress in your life, it’s critical. (The only people without stress are the dead!) Anyone who attempts something creative or life-giving or game-changing agrees to a certain level of stress. But it’s the good kind, the kind that drives you to be and to do something truly good, which always means, something that touches and blesses others—and not just yourself.
What all this means, of course, is that stress and health are spiritual issues. If we attend to God’s presence in our lives, if we seek each day to follow God’s calling, we’ll be happily stressed and healthy.