Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I have learned that there are at least two sorts of stress.  The kind that makes you want to curl up in a fetal position (after you've yanked all your hair out in a fit of rage) and the kind that makes you want to go out and get shit done!  Today, I am suffering from the former.  I shan't dwell on that, though.  I'd much rather talk about the latter.

The latter, we shall term 'creative stress'.  I was thinking about copyrighting the term when I found out that someone else had already coined it!  C'est la vie.  Anyway, I took a look at the guy's website and learned that our ideas of creative stress are similar, though hardly identical.  From what I could surmise (he wrote a book about it), he thinks of creative stress as the conversion of negative stress into something that can help to build a person into a better version of him/herself.  I agree that creative stress can and will, in fact, make a person better, but I do not necessarily believe that negative stress can be transmuted in this way.

Negative stress is, by definition, negative.  How one responds and grows in the face of negativity is the key to one's self-improvement.  Creative stress, on the other hand, is any stress which, in and of itself, boosts one's creativity.  Creative stress spurs us into action, it makes us think of things as we never have before, it gives us so many ideas that we don't know what do with them.  It makes us bigger, faster, stronger.  Better.  I've done my best work under a great deal of stress and am certain that I wouldn't have done as well without the stress.

So how does one harness the power of creative stress?  First, you have to recognize it as such.  Unlike its negative counterpart, creative stress is an infusion of energy.  You may feel restless, hyperactive, excitable, and you need an outlet.  At least, you feel as though you do.  Don't let that energy go to waste.  Use it as the Lord intended!  And there is no wrong way to use it.

Some people write (I can't say I'm one of themmine is far more systematic).  They write in journals or diaries.  They write poetry, prose, and who-knows-what-else.  Others paint or draw or make music.  I think some people make love.  I do busy work.  Work-related busy work and finances and spreadsheets and study reports.  And I do them well.

Creative stress = creative energy.  If we are receptive to it, we open up myriad possibilities where there may have been very few before.  And creativity, as noted from my examples above, isn't necessarily artistic.  As adults, some of us have allowed our creativity to stagnate under the burden of negative stress (or mere hubris).  We need to take back the creativity, own that creative stress, and make it our bitch!

And then do the same for negative stress.  But that is a post for another day.

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