30. Role of Stress in Personal Growth
The first step... shall be to lose the way. —Galway Kinnell
Don’t get the wrong idea! This is not a plea for foolhardiness, but rather a challenge to you to express more of your tremendous potential. To do so you need to cultivate stress up to a point, and you need to develop an appreciation for the lessons and potential growth that disease or problems can afford you.
You may have the impression that stress and disease are enemies and your job is to eliminate them from your life. But that is not true. Stress is necessary for life. Without it you’d be slithering on the ground instead of walking upright. Without it you’d be dead! Illness is a virtually unavoidable fact of life, and the sooner you accept it as a friend and teacher, the better off you will be.
We invite you to take risks—the kind that stretch you beyond your limited definitions of yourself and of what is possible. Life is a great adventure filled with impossible goals, which may seem beyond your grasp, but that you commit to all the same. To paraphrase Woody Allen, if you aren’t making any mistakes, or if people aren’t criticizing you, you probably aren’t taking any risks. You probably aren’t having any fun, and you certainly aren’t living and growing to your fullest potential.
Health is a function of your participation in life. Those who play it too safe often end up lonely, isolated from others, or obsessed with their own health issues. Such attitudes limit one’s world and weaken the immune system as well. How about it? When was the last time you took a risk? Did something uncharacteristic? Committed yourself to a great task?
Suggestions to Help Keep Life