My Almost Conversion to Buddhism

How do you handle stress?

Me? I cry. I dive into a Netflix blackhole. I snuggle into a coma. Avoidance is my preferred coping mechanism. Though I try to deny it, I have a deep-seated belief that life is what happens when things are sunny and easy. All the other parts–the stressful ones–are just something to grit and grind through. I hate it when friends and the Bible tell me otherwise. Outwardly, I nod and say, “You’re right,” “So true!” But inwardly, I pitch, “Why don’t you just shut up!”

Real life is what happens when you experience all the bits–the sunshine, the ease, the stress, and the struggle. I’m living real life, real hard, right now. It’s beautiful and it’s ugly. Some days, the hard parts are enough for me to consider giving into my daydreams, which lately consist of converting to Couch Buddhism. I want to be one with my couch.

Stress researcher Kelly McGonigal suggests stress isn’t the enemy; it’s our reaction to it. Stress symptoms–alertness, excelerated heart rate, rapid breathing–are our body’s way of preparing us to handle difficult situations. So while Couch Buddhism is not the answer, converting our beliefs about stress is. This means acknowledging our symptoms and embracing them as a positive response to a difficult situation. McGonigal outlines the additional benefits of our stress response in the following video, which include an increased need for social interaction and community.

Our beliefs and reactions to stress are not so different from the faith-follower’s reaction to God in hard times. We can withdraw and avoid. (Call me queen.) Or we can acknowledge our circumstances and embrace them as a call to reach for closer comfort and peace. We get to choose. Our minds and our bodies are a-mazing! Check out the video and make your choice.

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