KEW Episode 73: What is Stress?

Ahh, stress, our bestest buddy. Our forever companion. The voice in our head telling us how much we suck. The ticking clock rushing us to work and home every day.

Yeah, you know what stress is, but what is it REALLY? And how can it be so many DIFFERENT things?

Can you define it if someone asks you? Beyond whatever it is in that particular moment that is bothering you? Like, generally, what is stress?

Well, Mirriam-Webster tell us (or we tell each other) that (and these are the definitions relevant to this discussion):

1: a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc.

She uses meditation as a way of reducing/relieving stress.Hormones are released into the body in response to emotional stress.

He needs help with stress management. [=ways to deal with stress]

2: something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety

I’m sorry for being grumpy. I’ve been under (a lot of) stress at work lately.

She is dealing with the stresses of working full-time and going to school.He talked about the stresses and strains of owning a business.

Ok, so mental tension (something you feel) caused by problems like anxiety and worry.

Yeah, ok, that’s pretty close. But it’s also very general. And ambiguous.

And what generalizations and ambiguity suggest is that we don’t rally know. And I’m cool saying I don’t really know what stress is.

But I DO know what it feels like. Generally, anyway.

But I’ll also argue that defining stress is like defining pornography in that you know it when you see it. It’s hard to define exactly what it IS is difficult.

MOREOVER, this generalizing causes us to lose perspective because we LUMP everything BAD we feel into one big feeling we call STRESS.

And I would argue that we would, ideally, like to be more emotionally intelligent. Don’t we want to be able to deconstruct our feelings, use more accurate terminology, and better UNDERSTAND how we feel. And then, certainly, it follows that this would facilitate us being able to understand WHY it happens and HOW we can address it?

Because wouldn’t it be awesome to change things that negatively affect our lives like fear, feeling unsafe, anxiety, and limiting beliefs?

IN FACT, I’ll argue that being able to piece apart the monster we call stress is CRITICAL to us changing and growing away from the difficulties of life and more TOWARD the peaceful and calm experience many of us prefer.

In this Episode I try to take apart stress and give it better names and even talk a little bit about potential causes and solutions. Not to OMIT stress from our lives, but to change our relationship with it and help us understand what it is to be human. Hopefully just a little better. Or as Dan Harris says, 10% Happier.

Full audio download or please subscribe to the Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom podcast and get automatic downloads:

YouTube video can be found here:

And, please, take the time to review or comment, subscribe or follow, and share what you see and hear with your friends. It’s how we facilitate change.

FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 54: The Bully and Your DNA (Part 1)

In this flashback Episode I separated the two main elements from the Are vs Should Problem. The Bully is the ‘Shoulds’, those voices in your head telling you to do things a certain way, follow a specific path, or make a decision that jibes with an influential element in your life. In Part 2, I talk about the ‘are’ which I argue is inherent in our DNA.

The idea of ‘shoulds’ is pretty common in therapy. ‘Shoulds’ are things we tell ourselves we are ‘supposed’ to do, or have to do based on membership to some group or allegiance to some system of thinking and behaving.

You ‘should’ go to church every Sunday.

You ‘should’ forgive your partner for being a jerk.

You ‘should’ attend every single one of your kids’ soccer games.

You ‘should’ not eat a second piece of pie.

You ‘should’ think white people are better than nonwhite people.

You know what I mean. Some people even use the phrase ‘shouldding all over ourselves’ to describe how we beat ourselves up with the ‘shoulds’. This is a key element in self-help in learning how to be self-compassionate.

So in Part 1 of the Bully vs Your DNA mini series I talk all about the ‘shoulds’. Where they come from. What they mean. And why the aren’t really our true nature.

Being aware of, and even resisting the ‘shoulds’ is critical to personal growth and understanding who you really are.

I hope you enjoy this episode.

The original post with links to the full podcast audio and YouTube video is here:

KEW Episode 70: The Great Resignation

Have you heard this phrase yet? In the past few weeks tons of articles have come out that explain the ‘Great Resignation’ or the ‘Big Quit’. According to Wikipedia (yes, it has it’s own wiki page) a fella called Anthony Klotz at Texas A&M predicted last May (2021) that people were going to leave the workplace as a result of Covid. And to summarize, very briefly, ‘The Great Resignation’ is an explanation about the reduced number of people in the workplace during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Ok, sure. So more people than usual are not working. Makes sense. There was some unemployment incentives, a little extra cash, extended for a longer period of time. That probably made not working and being on unemployment more attractive for a while. There were also eviction moratoria across the U.S. that reduced monthly expenses for a lot of renters. And, sure, there was some fear about being around a lot of people; especially in the food industry that was hit very hard by job losses.

And on the business side there was encouragement to KEEP workers due to the PPE money.

The point is, there was a lot of money artificially pumped into the economy to keep us afloat while businesses ‘took the hit’ because no one would be spending any money, people would get laid off as a result, and our economy would tank.

Instead, what I have seen, and heard, and read about, is some businesses doing extremely and surprisingly well during the pandemic. Fast food and restaurants pivoted, closed their dining rooms and focused on to-go and drive through service. Breweries switched to canned six-packs delivered. And on and on.

But even more surprisingly it seemed that everyone and their sister started being or remodeling their homes. People moved from the city to the country to buy more square footage with pools, home offices, and workout rooms. People who already lived in the country remodeled their kitchen and added a bonus room. But like the service industry, many of the suppliers could not have people in the factories and the supply of materials and homes could not keep up with demand. Which drove the prices up. But that didn’t stop anybody.

And maybe that’s what’s so surprising to me. Not only are we not supposed to have the money to buy things now, we are spending money on things we don’t necessarily need. And on top of THAT, we are paying too much for those things.

Does that sound like a busted economy to you?

How in the world can the economy be so healthy that people can afford to not work as a result of a global pandemic?

So the next question is, are people just incredibly stupid, about to be broke, and headed for homelessness? Some would say yes but there is little evidence to support that theory.

The theories are all over the place. By the time I post this there will likely be twice as many articles online but I’ll post a few:

These have been coming out for almost two months now, and the explanations are getting more and more diverse.

At the very least it doesn’t make much sense.

At the very best this is an indication that the people are revolting. See my Episode about Slavery for more on that topic

I like to think it’s more of the latter and that this may be the most memorable positive effect of the pandemic.

I hope you’ll listen and/or watch and share your thoughts below.

Full podcast audio download here:

but it’s much easier to subscribe to Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom on your favorite podcast app, plus it’s very encouraging to me when you do.

If you prefer video, here’s that on my YouTube channel where you can also subscribe to get notified when a new episode comes out (in case you forget):

Thank you for your curiosity and attention.

Preview KEW Episode 69: People Suck at Their Jobs

Do you know what I mean? I’m not trying to sound harsh, because obviously not EVERYONE sucks at their jobs, but I find myself saying this over and over again in my daily life.

It may be the CEO of the famous social media company that can’t seem to tell the truth nor make good decisions about our privacy or his responsibility.

It maybe the doctor with the horrible bedside manner.

It could just be the asshole at the coffee shop who can’t seem to take your order without insulting you or someone else.

Hell, it could just be the person in Home Depot who, rather than help you find what you’re looking for simply tells you, ‘I don’t work in that department.’

At some point in the not-so-distant past you have had an experience with an employee who not only let you down, but left you wondering how they could possibly still have their job. That is what I’m talking about this week.

It’s a real conundrum, because, like Competition (see Episode 6) which is supposed to regulate free markets (but doesn’t, spoiler alert), there are supposed to be checks and balances that reduce the propensity for people to hold jobs when they do them poorly.

Am I right?

How has this system failed so incredulously?

Please enjoy the preview below and return for the full episode this Friday right here at

FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 49: Who Are You?

Who Are You?

Have you ever asked yourself this question? Have you ever wondered about the ‘big things’?

Do you believe Socrates was right when he said, ‘an unexamined life is not worth living?’.

If this is you, read on. And please visit the rest of my posts, podcasts, and videos.

Because I am one of you. I have asked myself this question from an early age.

And I don’t really seek an ANSWER, as such. I just want the information that comes out of the questioning.

The process of ASKING the question is the work, and the results.

I don’t think we ever figure out ‘who we are’, but what we DO learn makes our lives better.

Here’s a link to the original post with the full audio and video:

I hope you gain something from reading, listening, or watching – something that adds to your own questioning.

KEW Preview Episode 63: The Two Types of Shoulds

This Episode started out examining the different kinds of shoulds. Some shoulds come from extrinsic sources like my dad telling me I needed to get a job and not study philosophy in college, or your church telling you not to be gay. Extrinsic shoulds can be pretty easy to identify because they are often things we rebel against, are mean, or are even evil.

Intrinsic shoulds can be complicated. Some are good. We tell ourselves we *should* eat better and not have two pieces of cake. We *should* call our mother more often. Sometimes these shoulds come 100% from within us, but often they are actually extrinsic shoulds disguised as our own. The world has told us not to eat so much cake and that good sons and daughters call their moms more often. So it’s hard.

But I think, inherently, the more we come to know the are and to live in that space, the easier it is to identify whether your shoulds are intrinsic or extrinsic. In other words, I believe humans fundamentally KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL. It’s just that the more time we spend in the shoulds, we forget.

Like I often do, I wander a bit in this episode toward some emerging elements. I began a shift, in real time, toward a more somatic and external assessment of our personal growth path with respect to the Are vs Should Problem. I even go so far as to suggest we take the focus off ourselves for awhile, and focus on the people around us!

I hope you enjoy the tangents and trust that I will continue to develop these ideas in upcoming Episodes.

Full Episode in audio and video formats this Friday, right here at KEW