Back in June during TEDGlobal 2013, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, the author of THE WILLPOWER INSTINCT, this month's book review, gave a talk about stress - and in doing so, revealed her biggest worry - that ten years of teaching others that stress was the enemy had done more harm than good.
She had/has reason to worry. An eight-year study published in 2012 by scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found 182,000 people died prematurely from the belief that stress was bad for them. Ergo; stress is bad if we think it's bad.
We might do well to rethink stress. That's the advice of Harvard scientists, who, in their 2012 study: "Improving Acute Stress Responses", suggested we "reappraise" stress as helpful. Indeed, many of us have heard about "good stress", but that's not what makes the headlines.
Dr. McGonigal put it to the audience: "Why not," she asked, "see stress as something that creates courage, and the ability to maintain good connections with others while stressed as resilience?" She then went on to suggest we re-label our current reaction to stress as "a useful response to a challenge".
And I put it to you: Why not apply the technique across the board? For instance, we could, as her book suggests, see self-control not as a test of virtue but as a powerful way to reach a goal. We could label a hard-bitten habit: an opportunity to grow; a difficult person - a teacher; a loss in earnings or revenue - an invitation to innovate. The possibilities are endless. And life-changing.