Stress Less. Achieve More.
Simple Ways to Turn Pressure into a Positive Force in Your Life
Author: Aimee Bernstein
Pub Date: February 2015
Print Edition: $17.95
Print ISBN: 9780814433836
Page Count: 256
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814433843
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INTRODUCTION: MAKE FRIENDS WITH PRESSURE--Following the Clues
The next message you need is always right where you are.
—Ram Dass, American spiritual leader and author
It’s Humanitarian Day at the United Nations. As the seats in the General Assembly fill up, the excitement is palpable. Onto the stage steps Beyoncé, dressed in an elegant long white sequined dress. With the symbol of the United Nations behind her, she stops center stage and waits for the music to begin. The pressure must be enormous, yet she is so centered and upright, she doesn’t display it. She begins to sing “I Was Here,” a song that encourages people to use their lives for the common good. Behind her, a video shows people from around the world. For a moment her hand rests on her heart. The camera immediately pans to members of the audience, who are clearly touched by her presence and words.
The music builds; her energy intensifies, embracing the far reaches of the hall. Her arm naturally rises to align with her center and then sweeps across her body in a semicircle. Behind her, a video of rescue efforts plays; the emotion builds, then the audience rises. Beyoncé arches her back, lifting her arms, chest, and head as if empowered by a force from above. She bends her knees, and as she straightens, I can see that she is deeply grounded. Her voice becomes more compelling as her body movements emphasize her words. When she is done, she stands erect, fully present and quiet, seemingly undisturbed by the magnitude of energy that has just pulsated through her. I watch this video countless times, each time spotting the clues to how she befriends pressure, which might otherwise create stress, and I know that I have witnessed a master.
Although few of us achieve such proficiency, life provides us with clues to teach us how to use pressure by pointing the way to an ideal state in which our mind/body/energy system is open and aligned with the larger energy field that nurtures and sustains us. No one, even scientists, knows exactly what energy is; however, for our purposes I define it as an electromagnetic vibration that composes and connects all life by transmitting information. We can’t always perceive energy, but it is always there, and when the personal and universal energy fields unite, the feeling is extraordinary—inspiring, empowering, confidence-building, and peaceful. In these moments the energy that was pressing on us becomes the fuel that uplifts, making us feel as big as the challenges we face. As our decisions and actions reflect our inner state, we lead and function more effectively and effortlessly. Not only do we cognitively understand the essence of leadership, we embody it.
To live more consistently in this ideal state, and lead a “stress less” life, we need to identify and sense/feel the clues and the changes we need to make. That’s what this book is about. Much of the time, however, we are so engrossed in our life dramas—I was promoted; my boss micromanages me; I didn’t get the account—that we fail to ask the bigger questions and thus miss the clues. Yet, if you step back and review your experiences with the detached eye of a researcher, you would notice certain energetic habits—repetitive tendencies—that run through your stories. These repetitive tendencies are the ways you typically interact with energy. For example, you may discover that your fear of being swallowed up by your team’s expectations really results from a frequent lack of energy coming from you (outflow), which limits your ability to participate and express yourself fully. Similarly, your frustration with your boss’s autocratic style might stem from an inability to stand rooted in your own power (as Beyoncé did). If you could, you would not feel victimized by the boss’s need to control.
Energetic habits underline and inform all of our perceptual, emotional, and behavioral patterns. Change these habits and it is easier and faster to break free from limiting self-definitions, emotional reactions, and behaviors. Similarly, by paying attention to when you are high performing, confident, and happy, you will begin to spot the energetic habits that align you with the larger energy field. Noticing what works provides a process that transforms pressure from an enemy into an ally and makes what is extraordinary seem ordinary.
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