A Balancing Act

Roy Masters from 'How To Be At Peace With Your Problems'

Modern man is often exposed to tremendous amounts of unbearable stress of his own making, and insulated from the proper balance between repose and stress.

An excellent example of the destructive power of repose may be pointed out in the following account.

A lady took her over-plump, sickly, dry-nosed poodle to the vet for treatment. Three days later she returned, and there before her astonished eyes was a lively, wet-nosed, happy dog, that almost bowled her over in the exuberant expression of his doggy joy.

Eagerly the lady inquired what medicine the doctor had given “Pierre” that had accomplished the miraculous recovery. The doctor smilingly replied: “I gave the dog no medicine at all.”

Well, what did you do?” the woman asked. “Madam,” the vet bluntly replied, “the dog simply hasn’t been fed anything at all for the last three days!”

This woman had been loving the dog to death, severing it from its essential contact with needed stress and the vital element of chance. 

The correct measure of stress is vital for our growth and life. We must learn how to meet stress in progressively increasing amounts for true life and health.

In small doses, the sun is valuable, but too much sun at one time could kill us. In other words, too much stress of any kind on an unprepared body is deadly.

Therefore, we must learn to meet life, first in small doses; then one day we will be able to take all the larger doses that life can administer. We must be sure, however, that we do not bring upon ourselves— through our lack of understanding—the fatal dose of stress. 

Let me emphasize this point. The stress that we foolishly bring upon ourselves is not the valuable, health-giving kind. To illustrate. My young five-year old son forgot to bring his T-shirt on a recent trip to the beach.

I remarked to Michael that I had reminded him about it before we left the car... “Michael,” I said, “that was not wise of you.”

"The correct measure of stress is vital for our growth and life"

Remembering one of my teachings concerning stress, he adjusted it to suit and to justify himself. “But Daddy, you know that the stress will make me strong!”

I told my young philosopher that the stress which we foolishly bring upon ourselves will make us sick.

Therefore, when this type of stress comes to him because of the lack of wisdom and common sense, it is not the kind that will make him strong. Instead, it is far more likely to make him weak, bitter, terribly sunburned and sick! 

Together, let us now differentiate between the two kinds of stress. One is most desirable for life, the other most undesirable.

Undesirable stress is caused by our lack of understanding and discretion. For example, if you indiscreetly become impatient or offended by a remark which you take in the wrong way, you upset others into getting even with you.

Perhaps your lack of good timing causes rebellion in your home, as you speak up at all the wrong moments.

All of this tends to produce a violent atmosphere of justifiable reprisal against you—becoming that increased dosage of stress that will slay you.

This is the burden too great to bear, that brings grief, sorrow, ill-health and chaotic emotion—leading you to an early grave.