For a Better Life on Campus
For a Better Life on Campus
  • Hae-Geon Lee / Professor
  • 승인 2012.05.23 17:35
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I’ve recently retired. Over the course of my vocational and personal life, I’ve encountered numerous opportunities and also challenges. Life was sometimes up, and sometimes down. Opportunities in life raised me up to more than I could be. Challenges in life sometimes tried to pull me down more than I could bear. Looking back at the opportunities and challenges, the peaks and valleys, I now realize that throughout them all I’ve been guided and supported by invisible, but invaluable touches. They were touches coming from my close friends, leaders’ writings, my inner-self, my spiritual belief and many others. As I look back my life thus far, however, I am not certain whether I have led my life in a meaningful way. A wise man once said, “You only live once, but if you live your life correctly, once is more than enough.” Very true it is indeed I now realize.
In order to live a life correctly, we want to change for the better. We then look for advice on how to change for the better, and for answers to perplexing questions in order to steer the life to run on the right track. Opportunities come and then may vanish. Challenges come and then may stay, possibly with pain. How can we have the opportunities work to make ourselves more than we can be? How can we have the challenges converted to the source of growing pains? A book* I recently encountered with gives some meaningful answers to the above questions. It deals with some difficult questions such as how to cope with stress, how to rebound from failure, how to handle discouragement, how to be confident in a crisis, etc. As I believe that “how to cope with stress” is the most important question, in particular, for the people living stressful lives on campus, I would like to share what the book says about it. Here is the excerpt:
If we understand and apply sound principles of stress management in our lives, we will experience less pressure and more peace of mind.
Identification: Know Who I am
It is the principle of identification. This is crucially important in stress management because if I don’t know who I am, someone else may try to tell me who they think I am. If I don’t know who I am, I will subconsciously let other people manipulate me and pressure me into believing I am somebody I am not.
A lot of stress in life results from our hiding behind masks, living double lives, being unreal with others, or trying to be somebody we’re not. Insecurity always produces pressure in our lives, and when we are insecure, we feel coerced to perform and conform. We set unrealistic standards for our lives, and even though we work, work, work, we still can’t meet those unrealistic standards. Tension and pressure naturally occur as a result.
The first way to balance stress in my life is to get an internal balance of who I am. And I know who I am by knowing whose I am. I was put on earth not by accident, but for a purpose. As I am on earth for a purpose, I am significant.
Dedication: Know Whom I am Trying to Please
I can’t please everybody, because by the time one group becomes pleased with me, another group gets upset with me. When I don’t know whom I am trying to please, I cave in to three things: Criticism (because I am concerned about what others will think of me), competition (because I worry about whether somebody else is getting ahead of me), and conflict (because I am threatened when anyone disagrees with me).
We love to blame our stress on other people and obligations: “You made me…. I have to…. I’ve got to.” Actually there are few things in life (apart from our jobs) that we must do. When we say, “I have to, I must, I’ve got to,” we may really be saying, “I choose to, because I don’t want to pay the consequences.” Hardly anybody makes us do anything, so usually we can’t blame other people for our stress. When we feel pressure, we are choosing to allow other people to put us under pressure. We are not victims unless we allow ourselves to be pressured by other people’s demands.
Organization: Know What I’m Trying to Accomplish
Unless I plan my life and set priorities, I will be pressured by other people to do what they think is important. Every day, either I live by priorities or I live by pressures. There is no other option. Either I decide what is important in my life, or what let other people decide what is important in my life. I may come to the end of my day and think, “Have I really accomplish anything? I used a lot of energy and did a lot of things, but did I accomplish anything important?” Busyness is not necessarily productivity. I may be spinning in circles, but I am not accomplishing anything.
Preparation causes us to be at ease. To put it another way, preparation prevents pressure but procrastination produces it. Good organization and good preparation reduce stress because we know who we are, whom we’re trying to please, and what we want to accomplish. Having clear goals greatly simplifies life. Let’s spend a few minutes each day talking with ourselves. Look at my schedule for the day and decide, “Is this really the way I want to spend a day of my life? Am I willing to exchange twenty-four hours of my life for these activities?”
Concentration: Focus on One Thing at a Time
It is the principle of concentration. When I have thirty things to do on my desk, I clear my desk and work on one thing. When I finish that, I pick up something else. I can’t catch two jackrabbits at once. I’ve got to focus on one.
When we diffuse our efforts, we are ineffective. When we concentrate our efforts, we are more effective. Light diffused produces a hazy glow, but light concentrated produces fire.
Delegation: Don’t Do It All Myself
Do we know why we get uptight and tense? Because we think everything depends on us. “Here I am ? Atlas ? holding up the cares of the world. They’re all on my shoulders. If I happen to let go, the world will fall apart.” But when I really do let go, the world doesn’t fall apart! Why don’t we get other people involved? Why do we try to do it all ourselves? For two reasons. The first reason is perfectionism. We think, “If I want a job well done, I’ll do it myself.” That’s a nice idea, but often it doesn’t work well because there are just too many things to be done.  We simply don’t have time to do everything ourselves. It’s really an egotistical attitude that says, “Nobody, but nobody, can do it the way I can.”
 The other reason we don’t delegate is personal insecurity. “What if I turn over this responsibility to someone, and he does a better job at it?” That thought is threatening to us. But I won’t be threatened by that possibility if I know who I am, whom I am trying to please, what I want to accomplish, and what one thing I want to focus on. In order to be effective, I must get other people involved, because I can’t focus on more than one thing at a time and do it effectively.
Recreation: Take Time Off to Enjoy Life
 It’s the principle of relaxation and recreation. Rest and recreation in life are not optional. In fact, rest is so important because our physical, emotional, and spiritual constitutions demand periodic breaks. Balance in life is a key to stress management.

* “Answers to life’s most difficult questions” by Rick Warren