As of yesterday, the negative, critical, pessimistic, stressed, and angry part of me is dead. I'm a new person.
Barney came over Monday night and we talked about stress management. He told me he's only been stressed once in the last few years, and has only been angry maybe two times. At first I was skeptical, but I heard him out. His philosophy is simple: we choose who we are and what we feel. That's it. When we are stressed or angry, it's by choice. If that isn't so for someone, then that person needs to work on self-control. Ultimately, if not already, these can all be choices of ours.
Now, if it is a choice, is it helpful or desirable in anyway to be stressed or angry?
I thought, 'Well, sometimes stress can pressure you to get things done efficiently and effectively.' Upon further thought, however, I abandoned that view. Yes, perhaps pressure can motivate. But how does one work efficiently and effectively? Through being calm, being collected, having a clear mind, and by possessing the energy that the tasks-at-hand require. Stress not only doesn't contribute to any of these necessary qualities, but it shorts the circuit of success.
In physics you learn about the different forms of energy. One of the forms that engineers often try to minimize in the design of circuits and machines is that of heat. Often heat is not a desired byproduct and its presence indicates energy leakage from a poorly designed product. So it is with stress. Our circuit of success requires our full reserve of energy. We can't afford the energy leakage stress imposes. We simply don't have enough energy to go around.
At first I argued that sometimes I harness my anger to motivate me in other facets of my life. For example, I get dumped and I refocus my anger or negative feelings towards my performance in school. Now, this is partially true, but I believe we can circumvent the process and better harness the energy before we reach anger. Consider the food chain. Each level of the food chain, or trophic level, corresponds with a 90% loss energy from the previous trophic level, only perpetuating about 10%. For example, a portion of beef takes about 10 times the amount of grain in terms of energy. The 90% is lost to the second law of thermodynamics, lost by heat. I think we suffer the same effects as we re-channel our anger. We may be able to recoup some energy, but by choosing not to get angry I believe we better allocate our resources to handle the problem at hand.
So it is with negativity, criticism, pessimism. They all drain on our well-being and prevent us from reaching our potential. I reached a similar epiphany when auditioning for County Chorus in High School. Going into the audition I realized the pointlessness of nervousness. I would get nervous that I wouldn't do well. Because I was nervous, my voice was not as steady or strong and I didn't do well. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I've decided though to optimize my life. Stress and negativity are counterproductive. I decided yesterday to give them up. Despite finals, grades, relationships, and the regular pressures of life, I feel calm. I'm excited for the future. I feel like I've turned a new leaf. It will take a while to find my new groove, but I will, and I will find myself a better person than I was yesterday.