On dealing with Power, Stress, Burden – 200 words project

November 24, 2014

Here is this week’s 200 words project:


‘The power he held never seemed to go to his head—neither did the stress or burden.

Ryan Holiday in his book The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph


In this quote Ryan Holiday, is talking about Marcus Aurelius, ‘known today as the last of the Five Good Emperors’ of the Roman Empire.

I have always thought that when one is in a position of power, not letting that power go to one’s head and succumb to hubris is a sign of greatness, a sign of being level-headed in the powerful. I had never thought to associate this ‘greatness’ with how one handles stress and burden.

Never having dwelt on this thought, I used to think that stress is somehow a different creature than power. Stress is something everyone deals with somewhat magically – with stress coping mechanisms. I had never considered the emotional component of stress.

Now that I am writing this, trying to make sense of this quote, it is obvious, isn’t it, that Stress is in a lot of ways similar to Power – both have to be handled gracefully.

Stress and Power might be different in this – everyone has stress, but not many people have great Power – the kind given to us to change the world. But we all have the opportunity to learn to handle Stress gracefully in our lives.

And by gracefully, I mean acknowledging that it is a part of our life, that it is not going to go away, but that we can use it to better ourselves, and not to give in to its urgent emotional response of a sense of doom and ‘Oh why? Oh why me?’.

What about burden? This part hits me home – because I am very guilty of this. I take on a lot of responsibility because I enjoy responsibility. And then when things get difficult because I chose to take on too much, and the stress gets too much, I lash out saying – ‘Why should I do all this? Why me? This isn’t fair.’ and give in to resentment and anger.

I am learning that burden voluntary or involuntary is ever-present in everyone’s life. However, what one views as a burden can be a privilege for the next person. Not only that, life doesn’t know what fairness is – because fairness is a human concept. And fairness is relative as well.

So to just acknowledge that yes, I have this burden , this duty, this obligation, this privilege – and I will do my best by it, rather than whine and cry – this is my lesson.

After all, burden is the other side of a blessing right? .


About the 200 Words Project

Once every week, on Monday morning, I will post my ‘200 Words Project’ post where I will ruminate on some idea which caught my interest in the current book I’m reading, or maybe (sometimes) from a blog post or podcast – in 200 words or more, never less!

Tags: 200-words-project

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