Nearly eighty percent of Americans are more stressed out than ever. So says a Gallup poll. The numbers reveal Americans believe or experience not only stress, but not enough time to do what they want to do. The main culprits: children and jobs.
Can humans live stress-free? We know there are two kinds of stress: “good” stress and “bad” stress. Good stress doesn’t actually feel like stress, although biochemical markers of said stress look similar to the bad kind. We feel good stress when we’re excited about or eager for something about to happen. “Bad” stress, is stress we talk about among friends. It’s chronic. Worry, fear, doubt are its emotional indicators. Losing a home, a job, or having a sick child (or in some cases an unexpected pregnancy) can trigger “bad” stress.
So it may not be beneficial for humans to live stress-free because such a life could occur as boring. Some people appear to thrive on a life chocked-full of chronic stress: they’re constantly on guard about the Trump Administration, nuclear war, the economy or some other “bad” news. These people tend to suffer from long-term chronic indicators that come along with such focus: hypertension, obesity, poor sleep habits, and addiction to television.
But good stress can be something that’s not only enjoyable to have around all the time, it’s also emotionally, spiritually and physically health-promoting. Eager expectation, excitement about life, anticipation of good things on the way, is quite therapeutic.
One of the reasons perhaps that children are stressors in today’s society is the tension between raising children and all the other life’s “obligations”, mainly, the need to work. We don’t think people who live in situations where modern, industrial work lives are the norm, are stressed out by trying to balance raising their kids and working their jobs. You can probably think of someone you know, who doesn’t have this tension, likely because they have made a trade-off between one or the other: children come first and jobs (and income) second; or their job is top priority and they have no kids and don’t want any.
But for the person who finds work satisfying, fun even, but also enjoys children, it’s hard not to feel the stress that comes from trying to balance the two. Perhaps the solution is providing a society where a person doesn’t have to choose. Where work doesn’t require as much time as it does today. For sure if people’s necessities were provided at no cost to anyone, they wouldn’t have to work as much. Nor would they stress over having to provide food, clothing, healthcare and such for their children. Universal Basic Income proponents see this as a no brainer and one of the reasons for providing a basic income to everyone.
We don’t think humans would enjoy a stress-free life. There are beneficial types of stress. But there’s a whole bunch of harmful stressors we can do away with, simply by doing “society” different.