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In the 1991 movie “City Slickers,” Jack Palance played a crusty old cowboy who had lived a life of hard work in the great outdoors. Billy Crystal was from the big city, vacationing on a dude ranch where Palance’s character was the trail boss on a cattle drive.
In one scene, the two of them were riding along a trail having a “man-to-man” talk when Palance’s character said that "the secret to life is just one thing." When Crystal asked him what that one thing was he replied, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.” (You can see a clip of this famous scene on, where else, YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k1uOqRb0HU )
They did it in such a way as to make us, the audience, think that he knew what that one thing was but that he wasn’t going to share it. As it turned out, what he really meant was that the “one thing” is different for everyone and each of us has to find what it is for ourselves and then pursue it. It’s a wonderful lesson and message for all of us to really think about.
It occurred to me that this also applies to relieving our stress. It’s not just “one thing” that will relieve our stress; what is effective, however, is different for each of us and we have to find out what works for us by trying lots of different things.
Well-meaning friends and relatives often suggest (okay, they “insist”) that you should try this or that because it really worked for them.
“You should swim twice a week, it’s so relaxing.” But what if you’re afraid of the water?
“You should go to the desert: it’s so peaceful there and relaxing.” But what if you don’t like the barren, dry look that the desert can have?
“You should get out and be with more people, it will take your mind off of your troubles.” But what if you are an introvert and find interacting with others to be stressful?
Get the idea?