Is Stress Beneficial?

I have often fantasized about a tensionless state where there are no deadlines, no stress. Isn’t that the ideal we all seek? Isn’t it good to reduce stress in our lives? Victor Frankl (from Man’s Search for Meaning) disagrees: “If architects want to strengthen a decrepit arch, they increase the load which is laid upon it, for thereby the arcs are joined more firmly together. So if therapists wish to foster their patients’ mental health, they should not be afraid to create a sound amount of tension through a reorientation toward the meaning of one’s life.” He summarized, “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal.” I guess I don’t mind stressful work if I can see a worthy purpose—if it pushes me outside my comfort zone to be learning and growing. When Michelangelo was asked if carving stone exhausted him, he replied that it did not; rather, it filled him. Any effort with a worthy purpose produces growth. That’s why God allows adversity and challenge in in our mortal journey. So instead of yearning for a stress-free existence, I should smile and ask, “What am I learning from this?”

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