Sam wakes up at 6:30, washes up, brushes his teeth and slams his first cup of coffee. He wakes the kids, packs their lunches and rushes them to the school bus. He runs home, grabs the car keys, shouts a hasty good-bye to his wife who is heading in all of her different directions, and heads to work, fighting traffic, bad drivers and garbage trucks. By the time he gets to his desk, he feels like he’s already run a marathon and his boss is on his case. He plows through the morning without a break, scarfs down a slice of pizza at his desk, and works until seven.
Dinner is rushed and Sam is constantly checking his phone for emails from his boss. He settles in for homework and a story from his son who is having hard time with his best friend. He calls his mother to see how she’s doing after her knee replacement and by the time he sits down with his wife to chat, he can’t focus and give her the attention she deserves. Although Sam has the blessings of family, livelihood, and important relationships, the stresses of life often take center stage in his mind. .
Aren’t we all like Sam in many ways? Life affords much happiness. There are the daily pleasures of eating and relaxing. The joy of friendship and companionship. The mental stimulation from the news, our work and hobbies. The satisfaction derived from meaningful activities such as acts of kindness and charity. However, the stresses of life often cast a shadow over our happiness. Financial stress, the stress of work, the stress of health, the stress of damaged relationships, and the stress of the challenges that our children and loved ones are facing. We can’t change the fact that life contains stressful situations, however, we can take steps to put stress into perspective and live happier, more meaningful and fulfilling lives.
In our next article, we will introduce a framework to reduce stress and lead a more fulfilling life.