I’ve been thinking a lot about stress lately and trying to decide if the solution to stress comes from managing external factors or in finding some internal way to come to terms with it.
Take my job, for example.
I like my job. I work with great people, in a set of beautiful buildings, for an organization whose mission I respect. But. There’s stress. We’re in the middle of a huge project that involves lots of work, time pressure, interaction with related and unrelated organizations with indifferent or unrelated agendas. The work piles up, deadlines slip, focus is lost, found, and lost again.
There’s much I like about my job. There’s much that is ridiculous and causes me stress. How do I reconcile the two? Do I approach each interpersonal encounter with a firm but pleasant demeanor? Do I organize and to-do-list the hell out of myself? Will that get me there?
Or is that only part of the answer? Is there a different answer? Do I try to go all zen (note: I have no idea if I’m using the term appropriately) and and realize that the best I can do, all I can do, is to give each day my best effort, to give all of myself, and that all other factors are out of my control.? On the top of my monitor I’ve taped a quote that was painted above the Hull House stage, back when Hull House had a theater. It says, “Act well your part. There all the honor lies.”
I guess – and I reserve the right to change my mind – that it’s a little of the first and all of the second. The way we carry ourselves, the way we interact with the world, goes a long way toward the way the world treats us. But at the same time, that’s just about all we can do. We have to realize that once we’ve given our best effort, given our all, there’s nothing left to do except site back and let things play out as they will.
Sit back. And relax.