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How to Turn Stress into Big Success

Learn one Eastern practice that can make all the difference.

Let me set you straight right away. The title of this blog might conjure up an image of a corporate employee or better yet an executive using stress to get more done. No. That’s not what I mean.

I’m talking about turning stress—whether from something specific, like a boss riding you, or something general, like being worried about getting older—into life success.

What is life success? It’s feeling like your life is complete. Being so satisfied, so fulfilled, so dialed into happiness and peace that even if you knew you were going to die in the next hour, you’d feel grateful that you had lived fully. No regrets. No disappointments. Life success is success that’s on a whole different level than just accomplishing things.

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It’s really important to say that stress is not just something to be removed as fast as possible—if at all really. It actually helps you get to life success. 

So, how can that be—stress being good? And how is it possible to be so happy and fulfilled you could die in the next moment being really ok with it?

Well, we know that both are possible, because people from every walk of life have reported being able to achieve it. All kinds of people throughout human history. Here’s a modern take on what they said they did.

First, recognize that stress, the mental and bodily tension and emotions that make it up, is a source of energy, a motivator. It’s what makes you want to take the journey to the highest place in life you can get to. You wouldn’t be motivated without it. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even bother reading this blog without it.

And actually, the more stress the better. There’s an ancient expression that says those who suffer the most have the best chance of achieving deep fulfillment, of reaching the highest realms of spiritual attainment (read: life success).

Now, I’m not recommending that you stress the heck out of yourself so you can attain Nirvana. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t try to run from your stress or get freaked out by it, because it is your friend. Welcome it—as bizarre as that may be to hear.

Next, what you’re going to do is use the feelings of your stress to find an inner place of silence and stillness that is stressless. Known for centuries as the “mind’s eye,” “third eye,” or “inner eye,” it is a virtual place inside your head behind your eyes and between your ears.

Pay attention in there carefully enough and you’ll feel it. Of course, you’ll know you hit on it because you’ll immediately see the difference between the feeling of stress in your mind and body and that place of peace within. Try feeling for it. Use your stress like a divining rod. What could be more important than learning how to do that?

That’s a skill that takes some practice. You might be lucky and feel it right away. The trick is to be able to stay there longer and longer. Eventually you’ll move in. Be careful though. The more you grasp for it the more elusive it can be. You have to watch for that.

Finally, when you are able to stay in that inner place of stressless silence and stillness long enough, what happens is that the normal “you” starts slowly disappearing. Now don’t freak out at that possibility. You’re not going anywhere. You just become something more. Let’s call it being less self-conscious to the point that you’re not operating from a place of self-consciousness at all!

Sure, you feel the stress and recognize the thoughts and beliefs that are causing it. You feel the emotions that come from your stress. You just know it from a place of unselfconscious inner knowing. Simply put it means there’s an inner reference point where you are just present, knowing—and really grasping the significance of—the moment. The moment sort of comes alive. It’s really cool even though it does take some practice to find.

The stress of life—which everyone has—happens because you see your life like it’s a movie or story that has a plot and an ending that you have to find. The ending of course is the holy grail, the ultimate goal. You know, happiness. An ideal life that you have to find somewhere! 

When “you” disappear more and more, you find what you want inside you each moment. You enter a wonderful inner place of silence and calm. That’s when the story becomes just that—a story. You realize it doesn’t have to control you.

In that unselfconscious inner place, you find relief from self-consciousness—which is important by itself. When you operate from an inner place of stressless silence and stillness you feel serene, yet excited joy. It’s the fulfillment that we talked about in the beginning of this blog. A place where you could die tomorrow and feel ok because you had lived fully each moment.

So, the lesson? Bless that stress. It leads to success… 

If you feel constantly stressed or worried and would like immediate relief, we'll get you started right away.  Go to ZenBrainDoc.com and watch a series of short, FREE "Flex Your Brain" videos.  They include two simple yet powerful exercises that you should practice every day.  Take the first step!

Jeff Skolnick, M.D., Ph.D., is a psychiatrist. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Washington.

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