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When I was a young man starting out I worried a lot. I fretted about everything and I thought I had every disease known to medical science. I recall being afraid to get married. I loved Carol and wanted to spend my life with her, but what if something happened to her and I was left alone. Worse still what if we had children and something terrible happened to Carol and the children? Wouldn’t it be better to avoid these terrible possibilities by remaining single? You can see that my life was ruled by fear of the “what ifs” of life. Something had to change and only I could change it.
I began researching and reading everything I could get my hands on in the area of personal growth and stress management. The first book I read was Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” This wonderful little paperback lit the flame and I followed up with “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie and Psycho Cybernetics by M. Maltz. These three books were my launching pad so to speak. With them I ventured forth and the results have been dramatic. The list of helpful books and tapes has grown exponentially with time. And even though I don’t read them as faithfully as I once did they are always close by to call on for a super charge once in a while.
One thing I have to emphasize is that you can read all the books in the world on the subject of change and stress management and nothing will happen unless you apply what you learned. I committed 30 minutes a day to practising what I had learned and I was faithful to this time slot. To this day I cherish my relaxation time and when I miss a day or two my wife can notice the difference. I can always count on hearing “Mike have you been relaxing lately?” This actually means, “You’re starting to get uptight so get back to it NOW!”
I happen to be a type A personality. This makes me a very energetic and enthusiastic speaker and I value this. But I am not speaking 24 hours a day, seven days a week and I don’t want to go through life in constant passing gear. So I need a mechanism by which I can slow down, stay calm and enjoy the journey. This I have discovered through progressive relaxation and humour.
Recently I was sitting around a campfire with friends when someone asked how I can go around Canada and the USA speaking on stress management through humour and relaxation when I am not always stress free myself. This remark indicates a gross misunderstanding about the teaching-learning process. I believe that we teach what we most desperately need to learn. That’s why I write and speak on stress management. My life long struggle to control stress and remain calm in a rather insane and frenetic world has taught me a great deal and I want to share my discoveries with people who are experiencing a similar problem with stress. I haven’t mastered the process but I certainly have come a long way and have learned a lot. I have a lot to share.
If we all waited until we were perfect before we shared our information on any subject no one would ever share anything with anyone. We are all works in progress. While I am not interested in achieving perfection I am very interested in making progress. This is what is really important. Perfection is boring, tedious and can become obsessive. Perfectionists are often a pain to be around and live with anyway.