I can’t stress enough that stress is utterly relative, whether it is between us and others (especially relatives), or only with ourselves. Holidays are often stress magnets. Breathe.

What “stressed me out” when I was a teen is not what stresses me today. Although I don’t like getting a zit now, I don’t rearrange my professional or social life because of one, as I would have in my teens. As an adult, I also have a rule that has served me well: If whatever is stressing me doesn’t stress my dogs, I should follow their example. Yep. Conversely, if they are stressing, then it’s time to listen. My dogs acted weird 10 minutes before the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and they were correct.

Citizens in the purported developed world have a completely different grasp of stress compared with the people in the so-called developing world; it’s a luxury to even identify a stressor. Not having access to clean water or enough food are off the charts on the Stress-O-Meter.

Don’t misunderstand me; a favorite adage of Nichiren Buddhists is, “Suffer what there is to suffer; enjoy what there is to enjoy.” Suffering is suffering, and no individual has the right to tell you what you should or shouldn’t stress over — only you can do that for yourself. A more useful response to someone’s expressing their stress might be to say “tell me more” instead of offering unsolicited advice. And yes, I realize that is unsolicited advice.

As with everything, context is decisive. The Norwegians have a saying; “There’s no bad weather; only bad clothing.” I will morph that a bit into “There is no stress; there is only the interpretation of stress.” Oh yeah? For some people, those are fightin’ words. Even the thought of stress not necessarily existing in reality and solely in language angers them.

When it comes to stress, what if you could wave a metaphorical magic wand and relax?

Consider this: Your magic abracadabra to shifting from stress to chill is the ability to identify when you feel upset, out of sorts, beleaguered, or victim-y and take that as a cue to simply… sit down! Sit down, for goodness’ sakes. You’re allowed to sit anything out. Really.

I saw a meme today on Facebook that transformed the tired adage, “Don’t just sit there, DO something!” into “Don’t just DO something, SIT there!”

Breathing, sitting and contemplating does wonders for what we identify as stress.

My husband and I have had a practice for the past five years or so. When we’re “stressing” over something, one of us will usually say, “Is this what fun looks like?” And we laugh. Maybe we’re simpletons, or perhaps we’re onto something.

Try it. Sitting and laughing may be the best stress reducer known to womankind — and by extension, all of humanity!

So burn the gravy, forget to send a Kwanzaa card, knock over the Hanukkah candles, let the dog pee on the Christmas tree. Perfectionism is a guaranteed stress producer, so give it up. Being utterly idiotic is fun and worthy of a nice sit. Or a nap. Consider napping if you don’t want to sit down. Bears do it, cats do it, dogs do it. If napping or sitting is good enough for my dog, it’s good enough for me.

Sit! Stay. Good person! What a good person. Are you a good person? Yes, you are! Want a treat?


Ellen has written Consider This… for a very long time! Reach her at beautybitesbeast.com.