Besides poor personal health or the poor health of someone close of all the things that commonly cause people to produce stress I’d say most of them can be placed into three categories: income, relationships, and aging. Of these three I’d say that by far the one with the most valid stress inducing potential is income. Income induced stress has two facets and which of them is more prominent depends on the individual and their circumstances. The first would be earning enough money to live a comfortable life in which one doesn’t need to worry about the financial consequences of getting sick or losing their primary source of income. The second would be how that income is earned and if it’s in a way that’s beneficial to society and whether or not it’s conducive to ones personal aspirations.
When seeking enough income to live a comfortable life one must first determine what a comfortable life means and set their expectations and priorities straight. Once one recognizes what’s really necessary for health, happiness, and an overall comfortable and meaningful life they may realize that much of what they once desired was unnecessary and perhaps even unjust in a world of diminishing resources and growing demand. By ignoring what just or unjust wealth others have obtained and reflecting upon what’s important in life one can often immediately reduce their financial burden. The next step is in meeting that financial burden in a socially and environmentally responsible way that provides financial security and the ability to help others less fortunate, e.g., children born into poverty.
In determining whether or not a job or business is socially and environmentally responsible we must be objective and willing to reason rather than subjective and willing to rationalize as is all too often the case. For instance working for an advertising agency which exploits children may allow one to achieve wealth and social status in a society that often cares less about how financial wealth is earned than it does about how much is earned, but it’s far from being a responsible way to make a living. Nearly all of us need to make a living but when it comes to earning enough to live a healthy, happy, comfortable, and meaningful life, and earning multiple times this amount there’s really no excuse whatsoever to make even the slightest moral compromise such as using celebrity status to market junk food to children, or political power to pass laws more in the interests of corporate sponsors than they are in the interests of society and the environment.
Unlike income induced stress relationship induced stress rarely has any validity because despite how complicated many people make it out to be managing personal relationships is simply. As for unavoidable relationships the key is to not allow the personality deficits of others deduct from your own health and happiness at any given time. Having to deal with people that tend to read things in negative ways and seek dumping grounds for all their negativity is sometimes unavoidable. The key is to see such people as examples of how not to behave rather than as opponents worthy of ill feelings and emotionally charged rebuttals. Instead we should see such encounters as opportunities to use the personal skills we’ve been working on to set a good example for someone that may really need one.
As for avoidable relationships the key is in establishing ourselves as stable and independent individuals who know how to be happy, healthy, productive, and alone. Once we free ourselves of the need to rely on the emotional and/or financial support of others we become free to enter into relationships that enhance our already wonderful lives and exit those that do not. Just remember that in all personal relationships nobody owes us anything so we shouldn’t base our actions on the future actions of others. Conversely we must recognize that whatever we owe others, if anything, is determined by our calculations and not theirs. Just because some people may like to treat personal relationships like savings accounts with high interest rates doesn’t mean that we have to especially when we may have never even asked them to make a deposit.
Of all personal relationships perhaps the most life impacting are between ones partner and child, that is if one decides to bring another child into a world already severely suffering the effects of overconsumption, overpopulation, and full of orphaned children looking for homes. Regardless it should be recognized that having a child will not provide one with real purpose or meaning in life nor will having a partner provide one with true balance and emotional stability. These are things one has to achieve on their own and preferably before making any serious relationship commitments and definitely before bringing more people into existence. The key thing to remember is that we must first find whatever we’re looking for in life within ourselves before searching for it within others.
Another issue that commonly causes people to produce stress is aging and death and although both are unavoidable any stress associated with them is. As with most stress inducing issues the key to reducing or eliminating the potential stress associated with them is to better understand them. Once aging and death are better understood and are accepted as inevitable parts of life we realize that there’s no reason to ever be worried or depressed over them. If looking too long in the mirror and being overly concerned with ones aging appearance would slow down aging or if mourning the death of someone close to us would increase the chances they could come back to life then it’d be a different story. However since this will do nothing but age us faster and bring us closer to our own death it’s something we’re better off without.
Besides genetics and lifestyle a lot of aging and nearly all of the stress associated with it is generated in the mind. By placing emphasis on every time ones age increases a year and by having low expectations for what’s still possible or prone to happen at any specific age one is subconsciously programing themselves to age prematurely. In my view age isn’t even worth noting after 30 so whenever I’m asked how old I am I state the year I was born and let who’s asking do the math because I stopped counting. Despite the emphasis often placed on it age becomes somewhat irrelevant after our bodies and brains have fully matured as the older we get the less our age corresponds with our levels of health and intelligence. For instance by knowing someone is 6 years old I’d have a good idea of what to expect but by merely telling me someone is 60 years old I’d have a vague idea at best.
Regardless of how we live and age the issue of leaving the world is pretty much the same for all of us and although the lives we’ll leave behind will inevitably vary the fact that they will all one day come to an end is one that wishful thinking and current technology can not change. However although death almost certainly means the end of our individual consciousness it doesn’t mean the end of life itself. Life will continue and we to some extent will continue to be a part of it in the form of the social contribution and raw materials we leave behind. Once we die and return the oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and other stuff we’re made of it will be recycled into other living and non-living things. You could say we’re merely borrowing this material as it never really belonged to us any more than it belonged to objects and organisms of the past so lets put it to good use and make the most of it while we can.