Three quick ways to add stress and unpleasantness to your life

Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month? I didn’t. Personally I think it’s hilarious that they would even bother to have a “Stress Awareness” month. Is there anyone alive who isn’t aware of stress? Is it possible that some perpetually happy and carefree people are floating merrily through life without even the knowledge of what stress is, and indeed if you were to say to them “I’m stressed” they would reply with, “What is this stress of which you speak?”


However, in the spirit of Stress Awareness Month (founded in 1992, when stress was invented), I would like to share a few simple ways to help you add some stress to your life. I know that personally I love it when I’m so wound up I can’t sleep, and I’d like you to have the same nervous-tic-inducing life that I’ve managed to find for myself. So if you’d like to ruin whatever tranquility you’ve managed to find in the MIDDLE OF TAX SEASON, then keep reading!

Turn other people’s problems into your problems

I think most of us get a sense of accomplishment from accomplishing things. When you find a problem and then engineer a solution, you generally feel some kind of reward for taking the trouble to do so. To add stress to your life, then, you need to try to solve things that you have absolutely no ability to solve.

Fixing a flat tire is one thing – but continually trying to motivate your chronically unmotivateable friend is a battle that really can’t be won. The more energy you spend on attempting the impossible, the more frustrated and stressed you’ll feel. A great way to do this is to read about tragedies in places where you have utterly no ability to offer any kind of support – financial, moral, or otherwise. Which means extra stress is only a newspaper away!

Do your taxes yourself

You had to know this one was coming. In George Orwell’s 1984, the government functions as a ruthless police state. But I think there’s something even more sinister in a government saying, “We’ve just created the most unbelievably complicated tax code in existence, so crazy stupid hard that there’s an entire profession of people whose job is to edit the work of the professionals whose job it is to do your taxes. So please, go ahead and file it yourself!”

Filing your own taxes is about as easy as performing your own heart surgery, which means you should earn yourself at least two solid days of screaming at your calculator, the scattered papers on your dining room table, and anyone dumb enough to try to talk to you while you’re doing all that. You know why so many kids start playing outside in April? It’s not because spring is finally here; it’s so they can escape the rising anger of their tax-preparing parents.


Try to do everything yourself

A football team is divided into separate positions because it would be really hard for one guy to pass the ball to himself and then block everyone trying to tackle him. Our body has divided itself into specialized organs so that our feet don’t have to have their own stomach, which would be kind of gross. But you should hardly look toward nature or every other human institution as a model for your own life. The more responsibilities you take on yourself, and the more you refuse to let others carry part of the burden, the more miserable you will soon be. Eventually, your misery – and more importantly, your refusal to do anything to alleviate that misery – will drive everyone you know as far away from you as possible. Which is kind of weird, since I was always told that misery loves company.

So make the most of Stress Awareness Month, and start adding stress to your life. And while you’re at it, go buy yourself a Florida tomato. Because it’s also National Fresh Florida Tomato Month. It’s also National Pets Are Wonderful Month, so make sure to give your parakeets a hug today. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s National Alcohol Awareness Month. I have heard that alcohol is a great way to forget about your taxes, so I’m going to give that a shot later and see if it’ll help. Have a great April!

Jeff Havens is a corporate speaker and trainer who helps people succeed at leadership, communication, professional development, and more by telling them exactly what not to do. He shares his unique blend of comedy and content at

Sign up for the free IB Update – your weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. Click hereIf you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.