Finding Things to be Stressed About

Are humans doomed to be stressed about something? Will we just find something to be stressed about, even when pretty much everything is going fine? First world problems: this kind of gets to the same point, we are just finding problems in our lives. As the bigger problems get solved, we move onto the smaller ones, until finally I get stressed that the BBC forgot to give me mashed potatoes with my cod (that was my lapse last week).

To be fair some people have legitimate reason to be stressed out. But I am talking about people who eat enough, have a stable source of income, shelter, clothing, free time, and recreation. I’m not talking about people who are on the verge of losing their house, or need to find money for food, or are legitimately concerned that a drone is going to bomb them. That is real stress.

But I am wondering if it feels the same to us. Would we feel just as stressed worrying about where our next meal is coming from as studying for a final?

I go back to evolution a lot, because I am really interested in human origins and species growth. It makes sense to me that at some time if you were not stressed, you were as good as dead. 10,000 years ago we should have been stressed about where the next meal was coming from, or we would starve and be unable to pass on our genes. We were stressed about the sounds that go bump in the night, because the people that paid those sounds no heed woke up dead—or rather didn’t wake up.

But then some of us get to this point where we don’t really have much to be stressed out about, and we still are, maybe because we are modern people living inside caveman bodies. I really had no stress in February when I was on a Caribbean cruise… go figure. Part of this was probably not watching the news all week, my world was so peaceful. But sometimes I would still find myself making up scenarios to be stressed about: what if I’m taken while visiting an island and Liam Neeson can’t save me!

It could happen, but the chances are minuscule, and thinking about something like that doesn’t solve the what-ifs anyway. So what’s the answer? I suppose my solution would be to set up a life where there is as little as possible to be realistically stressed about. If you create a community with like-minded people who solve problems in a similar way and share similar values, maybe that would actually reduce stress levels.

But there’s still that other piece of me that thinks no matter what we will be stressed. In my perfect little community, would it be the stress of group acceptance? That one is certainly linked to evolution, where rejection from the group meant certain death. So today, when people (especially teenagers) act like their lives are over because they have been snubbed by a friend, well maybe they just can’t help but let the caveman side of them take over: maybe they actually feel in their brains like survival is hopeless, being inextricably linked to group acceptance.

Don’t let me wonder alone! Tell me your thoughts on this!


10 thoughts on “Finding Things to be Stressed About

  1. I always wondered how people like Paris Hilton could act like their problems were disasters when to me they were minuscule. It just goes to show that yes, everyone faces stress about *something*. I like what you said about not watching the news, though. That type of stress-free vacation is nice, but it’s like a false, “ignorance-is-bliss” type of happiness. I think true happiness is knowing all the stressful stuff going on in the world and being okay with it because you’re exerting your efforts toward making them better. It’s stress-release by productivity!

    • That is a very good point Derrick, because as soon as I inevitably found out about the news, it was stressful to some degree, and my other blog helps me to not feel, well, helpless when it comes to world events, because I feel I can positively influence the world, even if its to a small degree. But perhaps disengaging from the bullshit laden our team vs ur team 24 hour news cycle would be a better goal.

  2. If I’m not stressed out about something I usually find something to stress out about. Today I Googled sinkholes……now I’m stressed out about a huge hole opening up under my house while I’m asleep.
    By the way….nice dog and horse in your pics 🙂

    • Haha my best pictures include your animals 🙂 I suppose in Florida that is not the least legitimate stressor… but still, what can you do? I find myself doin the same thing… oh im in a perfectly good mood with nothing wrong? Lets think about people I love dying… its a cycle ive got to conciously break sometimes

      • Actually I have mostly managed to stave off random feelings of guilt as the years have gone on, and just logically consider whether or not I should feel guilty about particular things. Usually this goes back to my don’t be the aggressor philosophy. Though I do still tend to over think certain actions or events that I am worried might be taken wrong, or unfairly portray me :p

  3. It’s 8:57 am and already I have felt stressed about the following things:
    -My cats
    -Ordering heating oil
    – What Tony is going to do next on The Sopranos (yes, I understand this show originally aired 15 years ago)

    So, I concur with Sarah, I will always find something to be stressed about, no matter how trivial.

    • You know how a person’s happiness levels are pretty much unchanged throughout their lives, except for temporary boosts after winning the lottery or dips after the death of a loved one, for example? Maybe the same thing applies to stress. Two people will be different amounts of stressed on a regular basis, depending on their nature, with spikes during finals week and dips on vacation.

      I think I tend toward being a more stressed person, but I’ve noticed that I can sometimes eliminate a certain stressor through effort or repetition. For example, I used to be wicked stressed about calling people on the phone, but after having to do it as a newspaper reporter for a few years, ordering takeout didn’t give me heart palpitations. So I might be the same amount of stressed, but about new things, like you said.

      But maybe conquering certain stressors allows you to achieve the next level of stress that allows you to be more competent. People always talk about how they would love to go back to being a kid when there was nothing to worry about. But being a kid is really stressful for a kid! It’s just that the adult looking back is no longer daunted by being separated from their mom or having to buy lunch at a cafeteria (right, Steph?) They have graduated to new stress, but it’s helping them take on more responsibility.

      • I think you are right about stress being like happiness, because it is all relative, the joy of being freed from a forced labor camp might feel the same as winning the lottery, but its a different circumstance. And you’re right about “moving up” to new stressors, because like your example with kids, those things don’t seem as stressful anymore. But I was never stressed about my health for instance as a kid. So perhaps the solution is to keep concurring stressors until only bigger and bigger problems seem stressfull.

Well, what are you thinking?

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