“What’s Stress?”

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

Bruce Lee

I was talking on the phone the other day with my grandmother (gran, is what we’ve always called her). I don’t remember exactly what we were chatting about, but at one point I brought of the fact that I was feeling over-stressed. And then she floored me with this question —

“What’s stress?”

I… huh? I did a double-take. I then spent the next couple minutes fumbling for how to define what stress is. She didn’t know. (or maybe she didn’t hear me.) If you hear stories of her childhood, it’s not like she had it easy growing up—far. from it. There was plenty of ‘stress’ in her life. Plus she’s always on the move. Always doing something. Never idle. Stress wasn’t in her vocabulary. She just did what she had to do.

Maybe she misheard me. It was early, so I likely still had my deep Barry White morning voice.

Regardless, it got me thinking, what is stress anyway?

Is it real? Is it transmittable?

Don’t get me wrong, stress is real. But our idea of it is made up. It’s a label we ascribe.

According to Stress.org, Hans Selye borrowed the concept of stress from physics and applied it to his medical patients as a force that produces strain on the body. The interesting thing is this occurred in the 1920s, a hundred+ years ago.

You can feel it. You can see it on the face and body of others. You can taste its bittersweetness. You can hear its heavy sigh and breath. It’s specific, and generally. And it can own you if you aren’t careful.

Stress is a lot of things —

Stress is when we overdo it (and know we are overworking but do it anyway).

Stress is doing things that go against our values and character.

Stress choosing immediacy and gratification over freedom.

Stress is living above your means.

Stress is doing things that are detrimental to your health (like not enough sleep, too much work, or too many daily cookies).

A little stress is a part of life. Too much stress is a choice. Sometimes we need it to get better. Most of the time it’s a limitation, not a benefit. We should never let it control us (or make us into something we don’t want to be).

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #892

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No More Snoozing

“Those who have compared our life to a dream were right… we were sleeping wake, and waking sleep.”

Michel de Montaigne

“I’ve stopped drinking, but only while I’m asleep.”

George Best

We all have problems in life — eventually. The thing about big problems is that 80% of the time they aren’t that way. I’m not trying to be cynical, honest. I’ve just seen firsthand how easy little problem acorns can grow into giant problem trees. Problems usually start where they are too short to ride the rollercoaster, so to speak.

All of the bigger problems I’m facing — the ones I currently have as of writing this anyway — are the accumulation of little things that have grown over my lifetime. Things like spending too much of my day sitting. Falling prey to a midnight sweet (cooooookies🍪 ) that messes up my sleep quality. Pushing off a silly medical bill, hoping it will go away.

Certain things we can’t control and shouldn’t stress over. If you fall because you’re walking in a dark room with no access to a light source to see, is it really your fault for tripping. But other things like neglect, we can control as long as we stay on top of the little things yet important things in life.

Neglect can come from anywhere. Small bills you weren’t aware of that have been growing over time. Bad habits, like walking a certain way, or abusing a component of your body (like your back, neck or feet), which leads to painful problems down the line. Friends you want to keep in touch with but just never found the time to do so. Neglect usually comes with hard lessons of humility that show us a better way to live.

Humility is one of those friends that tells it like it is. While most people compliment you what a good job you’re doing, humility is backhanding you in the face with things/realties you’re not seeing. But not because Humility is out to get you or wants to see you fail. Humility is there to show you where you had blinders on.

Remember, the biggest problems we face in life are usually not big problems at all — there an amalgamation of tiny subtle problems we didn’t notice or kept hitting the snooze button on.

No more snooze button.

Ignoring the problem doesn’t mean we are handing the problem. When we ignore a problem we’re actually just feeding the monster baby. If we keep ignoring it, soon enough that monster baby isn’t going to be a baby any longer.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #837

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Channeling Pain

Moments of crisis are good for creativity if you can find a way to channel it. One look at an emotionally striking painting or one listen to a sad and heavy song will show you the power of channeling pain through creativity.

The problems and painful experiences we go through can create something positive and impactful.

We’re already there, deep in the rawness of what we are feeling, now all we need to do is express it in as a creative outlet.

And it doesn’t always have to be a painting or a song.

It could be designing a product or service that solves a personal pain-point that could help others.

It could be writing an insightful book you needed to read, but couldn’t find it.

It could be running and training for a marathon.

It could be sculpting an abstract world out of Popsicle sticks.

Art is not just canvas and paint. It’s imagination and expression.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #798

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Caught up in the Right Things

In life, we often find ourselves in difficult spots — places we don’t want to be — such as poor relationships, burdensome financial problem or unfulfilling work. Sometimes we even end up in the exact opposite of where we want to be. As nice as it would be to figure out how to avoid these difficult moments, they are often blessing wrapped in painful disguises.

In order to find ourselves in a good place, we have to go through a crappy place to get there. Or, in other words,

Something usually has to break in order to have a breakthrough.

I guess I’m saying there’s sometimes a bright side or silver-lining to negative things (…which is really dumb but true).

I’ve found it really helpful to remember that when I’m going through a rough patch, whatever it is. If we can latch onto to the good we have, and remind ourselves that there are good times ahead, perhaps we won’t be so caught up in the negative, frustrating (yet fleeting) moments.

Related:

The Jar of Awesome

The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day

Pick Me Up: A Pep Talk for Now and Later by Adam J. Kurtz


STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #782

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Untangling the Spider’s Web

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”

Bob Dylan

“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Pain has a strong tendency to inflict more pain. The more pain you experience, the more pain you want to release from yourself. Sometimes that means lashing out to your co-workers and sometimes that means picking a meaningless fight with your significant other.

You can see this in families, each passing on unique generational pain to the next. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. You can see this in relationships. We can easily cast blame, criticism, and frustrations on others around us, usually because we are tired and scared and disappointed in ourselves. Likely the worst victim is pain and self-loathing we inflict on ourselves. We can internalize painful moments we experience and hold it in, ricocheting like bullet fragments within our psyche.

The problem is, even if there is clearly someone we can point the finger too, blame and dwelling on mistakes and what’s wrong don’t heal the pain. Rather, dwelling on past mistakes or unfortunate circumstances only roots us in deeper into loss and regret.

But if we take our lives into our own hands through responsibility and ownership over what’s in our control, we can find a way forward that breaks the cycle and untangles the web of pain we (and others) weave.

Pain can sometimes make us better. Not all pain, but some. The hardest experience in my life has defined who I am more than anything else. I am who I am because of the pain I’ve experienced and the path’s pain has lead me on. It didn’t always start positive — I didn’t enjoy the pain when it happened. But with the right open perspective and surrounding myself with knowledgeable people and books, I found the good in the difficult. There’s beauty in that, in a somewhat sideways half-glance sort of way.

We all feel moments of disappointment, anxious, sad, regretful, bitter, fearful, uncertain, broken-hearted, lonely, hopeless, melancholy and meek at some point. The key to living well is to not let those tiny moments become you.

We all feel moments of disappointment, anxious, sad, regretful, bitter, fearful, uncertain, broken hearted, lonely, hopeless, melancholy and meek at some point. The key to living well is to not let those tiny moments become you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #773


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Thinking thoughts about thinking

“If you run into an *sshole in the morning, you ran into an *sshole. If you run into *ssholes all day, you’re the *sshole.”

Raylan Givens, Justified

‘Bad things happen for a reason’

Says the hopeful person going through a rough time.

‘Good things happen to those who work for it’ —

Says the fortunate person who got a lucky break.

‘Says the fortunate person who got a lucky break’

Says the guy envious of the other person’s lucky break.


These people are like us, experiencing life and attaching ourselves to the picture, fortune and misfortune, negative and optimism. ‘It’s neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.’

Our mindset is ultimately the only thing we have true control over. (And there are some who unfortunately don’t even have that.)

It’s the first move. The second being our action and decision we make around our thoughts and what we let into our minds.

If I were Dr. Seuss, I’d say something like:

You are what you’re thinking thunk.

Sometimes, our current reality can get in the way of our minds, and our minds can limit our reality. Of course, our opinions matter. Our ideas matter. Our beliefs matter. Our values matter. But if you feel stuck, or less than who you want to be, then perhaps it’s time to rewrite your thoughts and ideas about things, so you can create a slightly better version of yourself and find joy when you experience the ups and downs in life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #759


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Because Reasons

“Never underestimate the power of anyone’s story… anyone’s life.”

Abby Johnson

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”

Orson Welles

Two opposing thoughts to events in our lives:

“How could I be so unlucky? Why is this happening to me?”

“How could I be so lucky? I have so many opportunities coming my way it’s crazy. Why is this happening to me?”

Whether you are going through good times, bad, or a little of both, there’s one thing to consider:

Perhaps it is all happening for a reason.

Maybe this is exactly where you need to be, so that you can learn to become a better version of yourself that you are capable of being. Maybe this is what needed to happen so that you can use your story and your hard (or expectational) life lessons to create an impact in the lives of others who needed help.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #753


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Knowing too much

“We think too much and feel too little.”

Charlie Chaplin

Excessive knowledge can be a problem if it keeps us from acting on intuitive decisions. Knowledge is a balance. Just like how we can die from not enough water and too much water, we can just as easily know too much about things (work, life, circumstances etc) than knowing too little. (Although it’s easier to die from lack of water than too much.)

Not enough knowledge keeps us where we are because of ignorance, too much knowledge keeps us where we are because of fear, uncertainty and anxieties over whether or not we are making the right call.

When we are feeling stuck, it’s good to pause and go with what our guts are telling us to do and just let ourselves go for it, despite the doubt. Another approach is pretend as if you were giving advice to a close friend on what to do. In my experience, I’ve found it’s better to follow your intuition and possibly be wrong than to do nothing (or do what someone inexperienced is telling you) and be mentally second (let’s be honest third) guessing yourself.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #751


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Coloring book

Like a coloring book, life gives us an outline. Our circumstances and decisions build the outline of what our life looks like. We don’t choose where we are born. We don’t choose our family. We don’t choose our culture.

But it’s our perspectives, emotions and thoughts that determine the colors of what our drawing looks like. We choose what we say. We choose what we do with what we’ve got.

Anger and entitlement paints it red.
Bitterness and pain can paint it black.
Humility and learning to let things go, blue and yellow.

A poorly drawn outline can become beautiful with thoughtful colors. (Happy trees.)

Sometimes red is part of our story. Sometimes red leads us to blue. I don’t think it matters whether we want to color outside the lines or inside instead. What we need to look out for is when our drawing is all one color and out of balance.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #744


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Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul

“Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.”

Virginia Woolf

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Rumi

Why do we create? To express ourselves, sure. To be somebody. To highlight something important to the world. And yet, creativity goes much deeper than that.

The act of creating doesn’t just work outwardly, it’s also an act that works within us.

Creativity is an outlet of inner work and outer work. By expressing ourselves through our art, we learn and nurture our own selves.

There are moments in our lives where everything feels like a struggle. Moment where we feel stuck in the same old same old we find ourselves in again. Broken bones, childhood trauma’s, disappointment, broken hearts, loneliness, pain, injury, fear, uncertainty, apathy, burnout, brokenness, bitterness, anger… Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Creating is a great way to work through our thoughts and emotions. Because

Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul.

Why else would some of the greatest songs, books, films, poems, dances, and works of art come from sadness and pain. It’s a form of self-therapy* that releases pent-up energy. Creating something — whatever it is for you — is like a pressure valve release on our minds, bodies and souls. The more we create, the more capable we become. Creativity comes from happy places too. Happy moments need creative expressions just as much as the difficult moments do.

Whatever you are feeling, whatever you are going though. Creating something is an excellent tool in the toolkit.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #740

*that being said, always talk to a professional first if you need it.


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