What is the cause of stress?

Stressful situations will always come.  It would be foolish to expect the world to be free from stress.  Our everyday challenges are a part of the grand design of things.
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Date: 4th March 2020

Does hard work create stress?  Absolutely not.  That is the biggest misconception possible.  Hard work can never stress us.  We could work from morning to night and still be relaxed.  So then what is the cause of stress?

The answer is, “Our attachment to outcomes”.

When we are attached, we start thinking – “It should be like this; it should not be like this.  I want this; I don’t want that.”   The moment we become attached to outcomes, we become stressed.

Children come to me, “Swamiji, my exams are coming up; I am very stressed out and nervous. What should I do?” The fact is that studying will never stress you out, nor will it make you nervous.  The nervousness is a result of your attachment to the outcome.  If the same child had a dummy test and the result did not matter, the nervousness would vanish.  So what stresses us out is not our application or our dedication, but our attachment to the outcome.

This is exactly what Shri Krishna told in the Bhagavad Gita, “You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.  Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.”

Shri Krishna taught us the eternal science of work 5,000 years ago.  Those principles of the Bhagavad Gita are relevant even today.

Stressful situations will always come.  It would be foolish to expect the world to be free from stress.  Our everyday challenges are a part of the grand design of things.  God has built these into the system to challenge us so that we rise.  Swami Vivekananda put it very nicely.  He said, “Life is the continuous unfoldment of a being, under circumstances tending to press it downwards.”  In other words, life is so created that you will get difficulties and challenges.

The challenges in life will keep coming, but if you wish to remain calm and peaceful, the process is very simple.  You should just focus on putting in your best efforts.  And leave the results to God.  This is karma yoga.

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Preeti Malhotra
Preeti Malhotra
04/03/2016 11:26 am

Absolutely wonderful explanation Swamiji! Attachment to outcomes is a proven recipe for tension and stress. When we renounce it and center our consciousness in God, we naturally enhance our inner strength to face challenges and tribulations, hence fortifying our patience and tolerance. Letting go of the fruits of our actions results in liberation of the mind, which doesn’t allow for stress to reside in it at that point. Thank you for this article!

Ms Sandhya Das
Ms Sandhya Das
04/03/2016 11:55 am

Beautiful explanation by Swamiji. Unexpected things happen in our life ,when we decide to take control of our mind, that means-we lost the world, and gained the universe.

Binaya Aryal
Binaya Aryal
04/03/2016 2:07 pm

Very inspiring and explained non detachment of result very nicely with reference of Gita.

04/03/2016 2:57 pm

Thank you Swamiji for sharing the reasons for stress. Absolutely our attachment to results causes the stress. We need practicing to detach our mind from the results of the actions and attach it to God. We need to try to be flexible for any outcome for the actions we do.

Ritu Rastogi
Ritu Rastogi
05/03/2016 12:58 am

Thank you Swamiji, great article on the cause of stress!! In ignorance, without knowing what is coming on our way, we plan our life and try to control the outcome as per our own wish. If the things happen in our way, we feel happy and if they don’t, we feel stressed. However, in awareness, we realize that God is the master planner and controller of our life, we accept the circumstances/situations/people as they are, put our best efforts but leave the results to God…just my thoughts!!!

16/03/2016 12:52 pm

Stress problems are very common for students like me specially at the time of boards, its not only that we are attached to the fruit of action but also too much of expectations from parents and teachers which causes stress.
Thank you so much swamiji for such wonderful article!! Radhey radhey

08/09/2019 8:31 pm

God deliberately throws challenging situations our way to manifest our ability for spiritual growth. However, how we choose to manage stress is up to us. We should focus on dealing the difficult situation by doing the karma but not be attached to the outcome because that is not in our hands. It is the attachment to the outcome that is the source of stress. Thank you, Swamiji

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