I think that everyone can agree that stress is usually an ugly word for most people. It is used to describe what we experience when we feel that we have lost control of the situation. A widely used formal definition of stress attributed to Richard S. Lazarus is: “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” Our ability or inability to cope with the new demands of the situation determines how well we deal with the stress.
In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe decided to study whether or not stress contributes to illness. They surveyed over 5,000 medical patients and asked them to say whether they had experienced any of a series of life events in the previous two years. Each stressful event had a different weight for that stress. If you experienced more events over the two previous years, your stress score was higher. They found that the higher the score and the larger the weight of each stress event, the more likely that the patient was to become sick.
The top 10 life stressful events from that survey were:
- Death of a spouse, partner or child
- Marital separation
- Death of a close family member
- Personal injury or illness
- Dismissal from work
- Change in health of family member
So what is the actual cause of these stresses in our life? One possible root cause explanation for these stresses has to do with the ”uncertainties in life.”
In the ten examples above from the Holmes and Rahe study we can identify what uncertainties exist for each entry. For entries 1) Death of a spouse, partner or child and 5) Death of a close family member we see the uncertainty associated with losing a close relationship. How will life continue on without these individuals in our life? For entries 2) Divorce, 3) Marital separation and 7) Marriage we see the uncertainty associated with relationships. Will the relationship last or survive over time? For entry 4) Imprisonment we see the uncertainty associated with different social behavior. Will the different social behavior lead to more problems in the future? For entries 6) Personal injury or illness and 10) Change in health of family members we see the uncertainty associated with health. Will I recover from this illness, will I get cancer, and will I be able to be survive with my failing health. For entries 8) Dismissal from work and 9) Retirement we see the uncertainty associated with money. If I lose my job can I find another job and make enough money to pay my bills, or if I retire now will I have enough money to live on in the future.
So in summary, stresses in our life are created each time when there are uncertainties associated with those events. In order to reduce life stresses, one must reduce the uncertainties in our life.
So how do you create certainty in your life? To answer that we must identify the source of certainty. What is the source of certainty in our life? The answer is the Divine, or the God of your understanding. Certainty comes from the Divine, uncertainty comes from our current society. So to reduce uncertainty in our life we must align with the Divine or the God of our understanding.