Dear Readers,

Your hands are clammy, your heart is racing, your blood is thumping loudly through your veins … you are clearly under a lot of stress.

Maybe you are interviewing for a job that you’ve placed high hopes on. Maybe you’ve just heard about a difficult change in your financial situation. Maybe you’re about to give a presentation, and a lot depends on its outcome. Whatever the situation, your body is responding to internal turmoil. The adrenaline is rushing through you, and you are feeling excessively nervous, worried and even afraid.

Until recently, science believed that when people are continuously exposed to such stressful conditions in their lives, their health deteriorates and suffers. After all, stress is supposed to be one of the harmful things that can shorten our lifespan and even cause death.

Recent findings, however, indicate that it is not stress per se that is bad for us. Rather, it’s how we view stress (and handle it). When we view stress as something that is harmful and negative, it negatively impacts us.

But there is a different way of looking at stress. How can we actually convince ourselves to view stress as something positive?

Think of athletes. Athletes regularly interpret signs of stress—like heart palpitations, clammy hands, a sweating brow—not as signs of negative stress, but as excitement as their body prepares to tackle new challenges. Before a race or a game, the adrenaline rushes through their body, and their hearts start to pound in their ears. But athletes don’t think: “Oh no, look at how I’m reacting; this means I’m going to mess up!” To the contrary, athletes view these physical symptoms and manifestations of stress as their bodies getting ready to function at their optimal level.

When viewed so positively, there is even a physical difference in our bodies: the blood vessels don’t constrict as they do in usual high-stress conditions.

Tracht gut vet zein gut is an integral Chassidic saying and teaching. It means think good, have faith in G‑d, and your faith will open spiritual vessels of blessing so that the outcome will actually be positive.

This research on stress shows how our mindset can have such a significant impact on our lives. How you view your reality is what makes your reality. View stress as something negative, and it can physically kill you. On the other hand, see challenging situations as a means of stretching your spiritual and emotional muscles, and they will become a positive means for new opportunities and growth.

We can reinterpret the narrative. We choose how to view our circumstances, and consequently, what our circumstances become.

Chana Weisberg,

Editor, TJW