Stress is bad. Ease is good. And mindfulness is about shifting from the former to the later.
Or is it?
When we began our mindfulness practice, this quickly turned into one of our core beliefs. We were both stressed out and overwhelmed in our lives—searching desperately for some way to find a greater sense of ease and flow.
So, like many in the mindfulness community, we turned to meditation as a way to cultivate calm and eradicate stress. And, in many ways, it worked. But we also noticed that we still got stressed… a lot! No matter how much we practiced, our lives continued to bring us stressful situations, relationships, and conversations.
Of course, we weren’t the only ones clinging to this idea that stress is bad and ease is good. We found this idea lurking in the background of meditation apps, workplace mindfulness programs, and articles offering tips and strategies on reducing stress and anxiety. We found it in popular books and articles on meditation, with headlines like “Reduce Stress with Mindfulness,” “Overcome Stress and Be Happier,” or “Meditation—The Stress Solution.”
No matter how much we practiced, our lives continued to bring us stressful situations, relationships, and conversations.
Start developing this habit of Notice-Shift-Rewiring by setting a tiny goal—purposefully face into the discomfort of an ordinarily stressful situation once each day. If you want to make this even more sticky, tell your friends and family about your approach and see how they react. The simple act of explaining your alternative stress mindset can reinforce your practice and help others view stress from a different, bigger, perspective.
Eric Langshur and Nate Klemp, PhD. are co-authors of the New York Times Bestselling book: Start Here – Master the Lifelong Habit of Wellbeing.