stress is an illusion - part 1

Have you wondered why a particular thing or activity that one person finds enjoyable, the other person finds stressful? The difference is nothing but the illusion they create around that thing or activity.

Apart from our natural human responses to threats and dangers, stress doesn’t exist. Stress or any incarnation of it such as anxiety, tension or worry is simply in our head. It’s an illusion, and a good indicator of our ignorance and lack of detachment. Of course, the emotions and feelings that we experience are real, but they are driven by the illusion that our mind makes about it. 

It’s not events and circumstances in our life that make us feel stressed, it’s our opinions about them. As Epictetus points out, “Men are disturbed not by the things which happen, but by the opinion about the things.”

One person finds skydiving terrifying and dangerous, while the other person finds it fun and exhilarating. One person runs away from public speaking because it is stressful and nerve-wracking, while the other person enjoys it because it is empowering and rewarding. The actual events and circumstances are identical, but the label that each person gives to them — positive or negative — is nothing but an illusion created by their respective emotions, opinions and responses. 

As I have mentioned in my previous essays, in the grand scheme of things, there’s nothing good or bad; they’re simply the labels that we give to things based on our opinions. It’s always within our control to change our opinions and consequently our emotions, thus decimating their negative effect on us.