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Chapter 1. Introduction > Stress Mastery versus Stress Management

Stress Mastery versus Stress Management

You may have noticed that we have called our book Stress Mastery rather than using the more common term, stress management. This is not just a semantic difference. We really see a difference between the ability to achieve mastery over stress and the ability to merely manage your stress. The key is not just surviving stress, but thriving from stress. The term stress management is suggestive of “one more thing to do.” As if you didn't have enough things to do already! Stress mastery is more a part of the fabric of your life. It is not work, not another thing to do. It is a craft. It is a way of taking the raw material of the stresses of life and creating a reality in which you can live. With the passage of time, your craft improves. It does not take time away from your schedule. It actually adds time to your life. Often people see stress management as having to do specific exercises to lower stress. But stress mastery is really about cultivating wisdom. It is not mechanical or rote. It is becoming increasingly aware of your situations and, perhaps even more so, of your reactions to these situations. The truth is, life is not always a calm sea of tranquility. Life throws waves at you, and these waves do not appear to be of your choosing. You do have a choice, though, of how you ride these waves. Do you choose to surf them gracefully, making use of the opportunities presented, or do you choose to go under, feeling as if you can't breathe and might drown at any moment? Stress mastery is organic. It changes and it is flexible while always remaining consistent with certain core skills and habits. Stress mastery is planting a garden that is enriched year after year. Stress management is opening another can of worms.

Table 1.1. Stress Management versus Stress Mastery
Stress Management Stress Mastery
One more “thing” to do Part of the fabric of your life
Work Craft
Takes time Adds time
Do exercises Cultivate wisdom, increase awareness
Mechanical Organic



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