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Playing The Stress Game
October 31, 2006

Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #069, October 31, 2006

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

· Playing The Stress Game
· Book Review: Claiming Your Place At The Fire


Written by Noel McNaughton (c) copyright 2006


If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a big favour and forward it to him. If a friend DID forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting Midlife Wisdom for Men.


Welcome to this issue of Midlife Wisdom for Men.

Most of the time we try to avoid stress, but it can have a pay-off that some folks seek out. Midlife can feel like a particularly stressful time, but there are things we can do to make it worse, and make it better.

In traditional hunter-gatherer societies, the older men are accorded a place nearest the fire, as a sign of respect. You already know that is not the case in our society. However, we can claim our place at the figurative community fire, which is the idea of the book reviewed below.

There are about 980 words in the articles in this newsletter, which should take you about 3 minutes to read.

All the best,



Playing The Stress Game

Some people hurry about, striding here and rushing there, always having too much to do, and making sure everyone knows it. This busyness can make a person seem important. (Gosh… he has ALL that to do! How does he get it all done?) It can be a way to avoid intimacy as well. You can be 'too busy' to take time for connecting deeply with spouse and/or family, so you don't have to risk the emotional discomfort that can accompany that kind of connection.

Stress can give you a bit of a 'rush' too. When you are on the verge of overload and alarm, your body responds by pumping adrenaline into your system. You feel sharp and alert. Later of course, you crash, but that pumped-up feeling can be addictive. And don't forget that when you are stressed all the time, you live in a state of 'poor me', and get sympathy from others.

How to stay stressed:

Here is what the stress-addicted folks do to stay stressed:

  • They worry about all kinds of things they can't control, and procrastinate over taking action on the things they can control. When the situation looks really bad, they change a lot of things at once, so they can maintain a state of chaos, and 'work hard' all the time, no matter how they are feeling
  • They are perfectionist in all they do, setting ridiculously high standards for themselves, then beating themselves up for not meeting those standards
  • They don't exercise, and they watch lots of TV, or play computer games. They also make sure they eat whatever they want, including plenty of sugar, caffeine and maybe alcohol, so they put on weight, feel edgy, and don't sleep well.
  • They avoid woo-woo practices that can bring inner peace, such as prayer and meditation
  • They suppress their sense of humour. Being stressed is serious business. And they get rid of any social support system they have. They are John Wayne clones, toughing it out, and suffering alone. And they remember to take everything personally, so they can be incensed over little things

How NOT to stay stressed

Maybe you are not the kind of person who thrives on being stressed all the time. In fact you want less stress. Try this…

  • Accept that a certain amount of stress is good. When you have no stress, you are dead. The idea is to manage stress, not get rid of it
  • Exercise your funny bone. Laughter is a great way to keep stress in its place
  • Get serious about exercise. My research shows almost nothing is as effective as exercise for maintaining health, regulating weight, and fighting depression, which often goes hand-in-hand with stress
  • Manage your impulse spending. Follow my dad's advice: if you just have to have something, wait two weeks. If you still need it, go buy it. Put what you don't spend into savings, which can really help reduce financial stress
  • Be realistic about your expectations. A principle in Buddhism is that 'frustration is caused by desiring that which will not be attained'. Ergo - to avoid frustration, avoid desiring what you can't have
  • As the old song says, keep on the sunny side. Much of what happens is out of our control, but how we react to it is 100% within our control.
  • Maintain spiritual disciplines. Daily prayer and meditation, as well as belonging to a spiritual community can do much for inner peace and serenity.

And perhaps most important: stay in touch with friends, spend time with family, give hugs with abandon, and let people know you love them. They'll do the same for you.


Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair. George Burns


Book Review: Claiming your Place at the Fire: Living the Second Half of Your Life on Purpose by Richard Leider

Subscriber Gary Dietrich recommended this book, and a number of others have as well. I have not read it yet, but it is on my 'must read' list.

Here is a review by artist Barbara Garro ( in Saratoga Springs, NY)

You can grow old in the darkness of night or grow alive in the light of your sun--your choice. Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro take you by the hand and help you see how to let go of the things that don't bring you alive and replace them with things that do. Can it really be that simple? You decide.

Claiming Your Place At The Fire lets you see how to believe that every second of human life is valuable. And, oh how our needy world needs the best of every single one of us. If you can answer a telephone and speak, you can volunteer for a prayer line where people call for comfort in times of turmoil and are so grateful when they get a live person.

When you are tempted to give in to your aches and pains, do remember Stephen Hawking, our modern day Einstein confined to a wheel chair, who had a body that was unable to respond to him. So, he used to the fullest what was able to respond to him, his mind, and blessed the entire universe with his wisdom.

Best of all, Claiming Your Place At The Fire makes you feel warm and comfortable about walking your path instead of so afraid of what will happen to you.


A bit of Levity: I got this from somebody a while back. Looked like guy humour to me...

Darwin's natural selection in practice

One afternoon at Cheers, Cliff Clavin was explaining the Buffalo Theory to his buddy Norm. And here's how it went: "Well ya see Norm, it's like this....A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. "In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we all know, kills brain cells, but naturally it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers."


I do this newsletter and host the website as a service to other men, and am happy to do so. Just the same, it costs some money, and if you would like to make a small contribution to help with those costs, I would really appreciate it. If you would like, you can make a donation at:


Wouldn't it be great to work less and play more golf? I do not of a better way to earn a part-time income, than a simple information Web site. I encourage you to check out You'll be amazed at how you can turn YOUR hobby into online income.


The Mankind Project

The ManKind Project® offers trainings which support men in developing lives of integrity, accountability, and connection to feeling. Our trainings challenge men to develop their abilities as leaders, fathers, and elders as ways of offering their deepest gifts in service to the world.

The ManKind Project's New Warrior Training Adventure® is an intense, transformative men's initiation which invites men to forge a deep conscious connection between head and heart. The NWTA offers men a powerful, challenging opportunity to look at all aspects of their lives in a richly supportive environment.


Got your copy of Picking Up The Burning Feather yet? It will help you on your spiritual journey.

Just go to Picking Up The Burning Feather: A Spiritual Guide For Midlife Men.


Just For You: A Free Do-It-Yourself Retirement Planning Report

If you are a new subscriber to this newsletter, you will recall I promised you a link to a secret page on the Midlife Men's site where you can download a free 27-page report on 'DIY Retirement planning' by George Slater.

Welcome to the newsletter, and for your free report, go to: DIY Retirement E-Report , and follow the instructions.




A Destroyer of Compasses by Wade Bell, published by Guernica Editions, (Toronto, Buffalo and Lancaster UK) $15.00 Cdn

One Man's Mid-Life Crisis Led to Spain. Planning to spend six weeks, he stayed five years.

A book of stories the Toronto Globe & Mail called "an assured and sensual portrait of a culture" with "precise and ironic examples of human idiosyncracy." The review went on to call stories "gems."

Available from Amazon, E-Bay and local bookstores.

I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.


Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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