The Pressure Paradox: How to Turn Stress into Fuel

by Daniel J Schwarzhoff

Artwork by Kristen Schwarzhoff / See

What many people call 'stress'...isn't really. They are actually referring to the discomfort and anxiousness one feels when not meeting stress properly—not to the stress itself.

Stress is necessary. It's the 'not good' pressure we all must endure in order to one day, become 'good'. If you were to eliminate stress from your life, you would soon wither and die.

Instead, we live and grow from stress—and we thrive in this chaotic world directly because of it—we develop wholesomeness of body and mind as we meet the pressures of daily living appropriately.

Watch the YouTube interview clip of Jeff Bezos rambling about how to deal with stress. In that video, Jeff makes a common error: He doesn't know what stress is.

Stress is much more than some wimpy little anxiety attack causing the procrastination that Jeff is talking about, which most people assume is how stress affects them, too. But stress is really much more nefarious than that.

Stress is the fire that tempers steel. It's the crackle in the air before the lightning strikes, the pressure and push that forces you beyond your limits. It's an energy. And it is packed with temptation to play God. One of these is not a metaphor. Guess which.

Now, Jeff is quite young in this clip, so perhaps by now, he's learned better, considering how successful he's become with Amazon, which undoubtedly is a very stressful life. After all these years of success, one would hope so. Honestly, I don't know much or care about his private affairs.

We grow from the stress of living, whether we're busy corporate executives, stay-at-home moms, or celebrity athletes. When the pressures of daily living are met in the right way, we thrive—not in spite of them but directly because of them.

When anger arises, simply observe the urge to react or judge, regardless of whoever or whatever is the trigger. Step back to watch it like a scientist, observing thoughts and feelings without analyzing them. With this calm awareness, the intensity of anger will naturally diminish.

This isn't about suppression or some mental trick. It is forgiveness—not hating yourself or others, and just observing as the anger dissipates and disappears. This will foster patience with yourself and others. Practice this regularly, and soon you'll become a master of transforming all negative emotions, from nuisances to boiling rage, into peaceful awareness.

You will experience resilience, the ability to bounce back once bitten. That comes once we master resentment—in this way, so that we are no longer overtaken by the relentless, dark energy that events and people project at us.

Because when we forgive them, we grow. This is essential to living long and well, not stress-free, but rather stress-resilient.