Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Start Aiming, Stop Thinking, Stop Stressing (And Be A Shot-Caller)
By Matt Rasmussen

A wise man once said, “I dont know what, they want from me/It’s like the more money we come across/The more problems we see”. Actually, that wasn’t said by a wise man, but rather some hit-making hoochies singing on 1997’s “bomb joint”, “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” by Notorious B.I.G. featuring Ma$e and Puff Daddy. And apparently this wasn’t all that wise, or true, either – if we’re to believe our friends at the University of Florida Counseling Center.

If you’re anything like me, you deal with quite a bit of stress on a daily basis. Even if you’re not like me, things like school, your job, your family, relationships, friends, roommates, health, and money can lead to a bevy of worries and not all of them are necessary, says the Center.

I know what you’re saying – what do a bunch of people who get to bask in the sun and enjoy vast beaches and phenomenal weather know about stress, right? Quite a bit, apparently – and believe it or not, a lot of it seems worthwhile.

“Before condemning stress outright, we need to understand that stress is only harmful when it is excessive. Much of the stress that we all experience is helpful and stimulating,” is one of the first concepts the Counseling Center offers to us. It’s their hypothesis that stress adds excitement to our lives, and allows us to cope with “stressful situations”.

So why is everyone stressing? University of Florida says that it’s good for us in small doses, what’s the problem with a little extra excitement in our lives? The school tells us that excessive stress can lead to physical symptoms like headaches or tension, emotional symptoms, like irritability, and even cognitive symptoms like forgetfulness.

While “I couldn’t find my homework because I have a lot of stress right now” might not be any more likely to fly than an anecdote about a canine with a hankerin’ for some homework, the idea of being more alert and happier with less stress is intriguing to most. It’s not so much that it’s a new concept, but rather, a Zen-like state which many students would rule near impossible to achieve.

One of the options offered by the school for combatting stress is setting a goal, such as Murda Ma$e’s aspiration to continue pursuing his dream of a music career until his name is featured on a blimp. The article suggests that we think about what we are trying to achieve in life, whether that be long-term or short, and why we are not currently satisfied with how things are going. By deciding what one is striving for, it allows them to make life choices in accordance with their goal. While I think this is sound advice, to me it seems rather narrow. Most people have quite a few goals, personally, professionally, and whatever they may be – they may not be completely related. To define them all and make life choices in accordance won’t necessarily help weed out stress, but rather can lead one to thinking they are not making progress at all.

The piece goes on to explore the idea of clarifying one’s relationship with religion, or nature. Were you expecting this to be dismissed and relegated to a one-line comparison to pop-culture shrapnel of yester-year? Actually, I found this pretty reasonable. Maybe it’s because I’m one of those “Hollywood Liberal Types” or maybe it’s because it’s true, but most likely, it’s both. The ideas suggested of taking ten or fifteen minutes to just sit, relax, and decompress are something I find allows me a lot of time to myself. By sitting quietly and shutting off the world, at least for me, I cannot worry about the things that are stressing me, and rather be in a bizarre, limbo-esque state where this does not matter.

I’m not quite sure if there is a true way to stop thinking, but if there is, I rest assured that the University of Florida is trying to deduce it. Even if they are a little preachy and academic, let’s not knock those Florida cats, a’ight? Let’s all just sit back, take a second (or fifteen minutes) to think about nothing at all, and set some lofty goals for ourselves. Life doesn’t have to be consumed with worrying – sometimes it can be about positivism. Let’s all just take a cool, confident approach, one with a long-term plan and realistic, attainable goals. Let’s look to those before us and take in those after us, and think about our options. Let’s set tangible goals like Sean Combs a/k/a Sean John a/k/a Puff Daddy a/k/a P. Diddy a/k/a Diddy: “Ten years from now we’ll still be on top/ Yo, I thought I told you that we won’t stop”.

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