Happiness and Choosing Challenge Over Threat, Part I

We’ve talked about stress before here but I wanted to bring it up again because the more I dig into the research the more excited I get. I’ll try to keep calm for this post. Any stressor (whether it’s a toddler’s tantrum, a job interview, or someone threatening to fight you) can be interpreted as a threat or a challenge. The threat mindset (“This could hurt me” physically, self-esteem, happiness, etc.) leads to fight or flight symptoms – which are great when you need to fight or flee, but when they’re severe and a response to a social rather than a physical threat it’s just a panic attack and not at all helpful. The challenge mindset: “This is an opportunity for me to practice skills, get a better outcome, feel good about myself.” Now here’s the hard science: cortisol is released as a response to threat and it’s very helpful… except in chronically high doses. Which is what happens when you’re constantly “stressed out” in life. Welcome to Heart Attack City. But when you view something as a challenge, testosterone is released! That’s the dominance and competition hormone. Bring it!

Next week: how to turn your mind toward challenge