Andrew Bernstein

Andrew Bernstein

The Myth of Stress


Isn't Stress a Motivator?

Does stress motivate us to work harder, or is that something else?

Posted Jul 27, 2010

People often say that stress is a motivator. What we're referring to when we say this is really better described as stimulation and engagement. Take the example of goal-setting. We set goals because they give us something to aim for and keep us feeling engaged. Stimulation and engagement are good.

But that's not stress. Stress is the negative whirlwind of emotions that gets imposed on top of our stimulation and engagement. It leads to poorer decision-making, reduced creativity, mental exhaustion, and physical burnout (and eventually to disease). In other words, stress <em>de</em>motivates us in a number of harmful ways.

Without the stress, we have more energy to get things done and more fun doing it. We need stimulation and engagement. We all enjoy pushing ourselves to accomplish our objectives. But we don't need stress to get there.

If you're successful and stressed out, you're succeeding in spite of your stress, not because of it.


Andrew Bernstein is the founder of ActivInsight, a process that is changing the way individuals and organizations understand stress and resilience. His new book, The Myth of Stress, reveals where stress really comes from and how to quickly transform problems such as relationships, weight loss, money, success, heartbreak, divorce, and more. You can ask Andrew questions in the comments here, in his Facebook group, or through Twitter @mythofstress.