With the speed and complexity of modern living there are many times in any given day when our buttons get pushed and we feel some degree of stress—maybe your computer is playing up, or the traffic is bad on the way to work, or your team looses at football. Our stress response was designed to help us face danger—either to run away, or stand and fight, but nowadays the same response gets triggered many times in one day by all kinds of events that do not threaten our survival at all. The result of this is that for a lot of the time we are in a state of low-grade stress—a bit like a kettle simmering on the stove. Apart from the unsettling effect this has on our moods and emotions, this means that our bodies are repeatedly being subjected to rushes of activity that stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen through our system, while shutting down digestion, reproduction and the immune system. Over time, this can lead to problems such as damaged arteries, heart problems, high blood pressure, and autoimmune dysfunction.
Why should compassion be a helpful antidote to stress?
How we experience and work with stress is going to depend a lot on our attitude of mind and the habits that we have developed to try to manage our lives. When we start to engage more with compassion, we can quickly see the benefits of developing new, more creative habits that focus on encouraging our capacity for qualities such as kindness, empathy, patience and forgiveness. Habits such as these are an effective way of widening our perspective and reducing our stress. When we connect with the suffering of other people, cultivate the wish that they be free from it and make a commitment to taking action to help them, then we are emerging from a focus on ourselves and our individual pain. This has a tremendously beneficial affect on our wellbeing and state of mind.
Why could this book be a helpful aid in managing your stress more effectively?
• Stress is explained thoroughly so you can see what your personal stress habits are and how stress affects your life
• Compassion is presented fully and the stages of developing compassion clearly laid out
• We may think that stress happens to us when our happiness is interrupted and we experience suffering but in fact we can see that happiness can be tricky and suffering has many useful lessons to share if we are able to work with it
• The reader is led through a step-by-step process of replacing habits of stress with habits of compassion that enable he/she to transform how he/she works with stress
• At each step of the book, there are exercises to try to put into practice the ideas you are learning about
• The book is packed with stories and anecdotes from the personal experience of people working with these ideas and methods
• There are full accounts of current research into happiness and wellbeing, Positive Psychology, and neuroscience that bear out the effectiveness of the methods introduced in this book.