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Techniques for Surviving and Thriving

© Catherine Ripplinger Fenwick

Dr. Hans Selye, a renowned Canadian physician and author (Stress Without Distress) said, "Stress is the spice of life." He wrote about how we can use stress as a positive force to achieve a rewarding life. The secret is to develop healthy rather than unhealthy responses to stress.

Psychologists Suzanne Kobasa and Salvadore Maddi discovered in their research that people with high stress levels who did not become fatigued or ill, shared the following characteristics:

  • felt in control of their lives
  • viewed unexpected events as challenges rather than threats
  • felt committed to what they were doing
  • maintained a sense of humour

In my own research, I have found that the following conditions are necessary to a happy and healthy life:

  • know that what we do matters
  • know somebody cares
  • maintain a humour attitude
  1. Hang on to your sense of humour and have some fun every day. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22). I believe that joy and laughter is the best stress buster. It helps us keep things in perspective and face our problems with renewed concentration and hope. Try to get more healthy humour into your life.
  2. Have some goal, a purpose in life that you can respect and be proud to work for. Create a mental picture of what it is that would give your life meaning and purpose. Find out what you need to get there. Plan for it. Do it.
  3. Spirituality and philosophy give a sense of unity. Knowledge that your life has meaning and purpose is a great motivator.
  4. Practice mental relaxation exercises. Daily meditation is a natural harmonizer. It helps us to achieve relaxation and release anxiety. Develop quiet time as a daily habit. We become aware of the benefits of meditation when we commit as little as ten to twenty minutes each day.
  5. Look for balance. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Stop and smell the roses. Keep physically fit, eat healthy food, get enough sleep, lots of physical activity, and make time for friends. Concentrate on what's really important to you.
  6. Avoid the "over responsibility" trap. Don't do for others what they should and could be doing for themselves.
  7. Learn more about how you respond to change. Does the idea of lots of change frighten you or excite you? Sometimes excitement feels like fear. If you perceive it as a challenge to be met and learn to flow with it, you are more likely to achieve your goals. Greet life with courage, flexibility and trust.
  8. Pat yourself on the back once in a while. Give yourself rewards for small successes, pay attention to all the neat stuff you do and don't worry so much about the stuff that can't be done.
  9. Don't sweat the small stuff, most of it is small stuff, and the big stuff is a test of your courage and ability to handle life. Remember, you're not in this alone.
  10. Sometimes people use up a lot of time and energy worrying. One solution is to focus on the task at hand. Work when you are working, play when you are playing, rest when you are resting, and just be the best you can be.

Make the most of every day!

From Healing With Humour by Catherine Fenwick c 1995.

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