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From 'Head Off Stress'

by Douglas Harding

Long ago, the secret of transport turned out to be the simplest of all inventions — the wheel. Later on, the secret of mathematics turned out to be the simplest of all ideas — zero. In much the same way, the secret of the stress-free life turns out to be the simplest of all experiences — simple to point out, simple to get, simple to share, simple to renew. As, in the course of the next few pages, you will find out for yourself.

Your job will be to observe three rules.

The first is that you carry out the tests, the easy experiments I'm going to ask you to do. If you just read about them nothing will happen and you will be wasting your time.

The second is that you go by what you find, that you take seriously the results of the experiments. This means ignoring, at least for the duration of each test, things you have been brought up to believe, and looking for yourself. It means bring prepared for the discovery that you are more fortunate than you had ever dreamed of. I shall tell you exactly how to carry out the experiments. But they are all about you, and the ultimate authority on you is — YOU. Just do what I ask, take heart and be open to yourself, and you can't go wrong.

The third rule is that you realise your gains, and make use of them. This means drawing on the anti-stress capital that is yours from the start. If you just let it lie there in the bank and refuse to write cheques on it, so to speak, you will go on living the life of a pauper — and one who is all the more stressful because, deep down, he knows that his poverty is self-inflicted. In plain language, take advantage of your discoveries, and be kind to yourself.

Please do your best to observe these three rules. For my part, I will show you how to get rid of stress, by a method that has five features:

It takes no time to learn.
At once you see what to do, and how to do it.
You can't do it wrong.
The switch-over to no stress is instant.
Afterwards, if you think you have lost the knack, you are wrong. It has lost you: your attention has been diverted.

To dump stress — what a prospect! But even before we start on the job this raises the question: 'If a life without stress means a life without problems, a perfectly peaceful existence — is this what I really want? Won't I be bored stiff (or bored flabby?) with nothing left to stretch me? In fact, won't I just be exchanging the stress of the troubled life I live now for the worse stress of unrelieved dullness and ennui?

This book takes care of and resolves the contradiction between our desire on the one hand for a peaceful life and our desire on the other hand for excitement and adventure. In addition to its main guarantee of instant access to the Land of No Stress, is the assurance that you will miss none of the challenges, the thrills and the spills of the Land of Stress.

Does it all sound incredible, much too good to be true, and as yet mere vague generalities? I agree. So let's get down to business right away, and you'll see what I mean.

(First published in 1990.)
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