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8/15/06

Stress and Significance

All of us are searching for identity, position, purpose and significance. Often in the process we encounter stress.

I was recently in Jersey City on the Hudson to attend and to present at the International Conference of the William Glasser Institute. The vendors were nearly finished setting up when I arrived at the book room to display my materials. Only I did not have the books with me as I had previously shipped them to the hotel and they were still in storage. The vendor room attendant was ready to lock up and agreed to wait if I would quickly go to the Concierge and retrieve the books.

The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency and the personnel’s helpfulness and attitudes were exemplary. The young lady graciously took my request and assured me the books would soon arrive. I waited. I went back to the vendor room to give a progress report to the attendant. I waited some more. I checked with the Concierge again. She made a phone call. I waited some more.

I did not set my stopwatch but I am certain that the actual wait time was not as long as it seemed. Choosing to not stress, I breathed deeply and turned to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The Hyatt Regency is located on the Hudson River directly across from New York City’s financial district and the vacant twin-towers lot. I had visited the site earlier. It is a sobering experience.

As I stood there I reflected on the Chinese Proverb, “Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” I realized my stress was not over a slight delay in retrieving books but in my over exaggerated sense of self-importance.

In the book , The Camel Knows the Way, Lorna Kelly recounts being overwhelmed with Calcutta’s mass filth and poverty-stricken humanity. Lorna commented to Mother Theresa that all of her work was like a drop of water in a bucket. Mother Theresa countered. “No, my child. All our work is like a drop of water in the ocean.”

When I feel stressed over lack of quick acknowledgement, I realize my priorities are out of order. The more I am in touch with the vastness of the universe and the widespread wounds of the world, the more I realize the significance of each human being and the importance of every act of kindness. And the more content I am with who I am.

DON’T COPE, OVERCOME: Humility is a do-it-yourself job. Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. We overcome the stress of self-importance by adopting humility, and in the process we find significance.

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