Hans Selye: Choose Your Stressors Wisely

Part 2 of the series,
Mineral Balancing Giants

by Jon Sasmor RCPC (Mineral Guide, MinBalance LLC)
Updated October 8, 2021

Our Choices of Stressors Can Harness or Waste the Gift of Life

Stress is the body's nonspecific response to any stimuli. There are many, many stimuli today. Each stimulus produces a stress response. Widely varying stimuli produce the same response, which we call stress.

Hans Selye, M.D. (1907 - 1982), father of the science of stress, said: "Think of the pollution of our air and water. When I started out I also focused my attention on a particular form of pollution – that of life – because stress in many respects is a type of pollution, a by-product or waste of life."

Meaningful work, love, learning, and deep connection with spiritual forces might be good, worthwhile stressors. There's no reason to waste our bodies' limited resources on unnecessary stressors like synthetic toxins, nutrient depleted foods, partly poisoned water, stray electromagnetic fields, information overload, and negative thinking.

To realize our great potential in the present world, we need to choose our stressors wisely.

A MinBalance nutrition and lifestyle program shows us how to follow Dr. Selye's guidance. We optimize our natural biochemical gifts and invest our life's resources into the endeavors that matter most.

Annotated References:

Selye, Hans, M.D. (1974). Stress without distress: How to use stress as a positive force to achieve a rewarding life style. New York: Signet. Dr. Selye outlines his lifelong work on the science of stress. Then he assembles a philosophy of life based on selection of desirable stressors and elimination of undesirable ones. "Choose your stressors wisely" is how we might summarize his message.

  • Dr. Selye believed that lack of pursuing one's best available meaningful work may be the worst kind of stress for a person (ch. 2).
  • "Earn thy neighbor's love" (ch. 4).
  • Dr. Selye sets forth a jingle: "Fight for your highest attainable aim / But never put up resistance in vain." (p. 112, 137).

Selye, Hans, M.D. (1979). The stress of my life: A scientist's memoirs (2nd ed.). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. A forthright account of Dr. Selye's life and his passionate research about stress. When studying medicine, Selye realized that certain symptoms weren't specific to one disease, but instead could be triggered by many factors: different diseases, sleep deprivation, loud noise, chemical exposure, nutritional deficiency, etc. Selye called this "the syndrome of just being sick." Later he called this generalized response to stimuli "stress." He ran research labs devoted to stress, with great enthusiasm.

  • Discovering is more than seeing: it is realizing the importance of what one is seeing. (pp. 42-3).
  • "Stress" would be better called "strain," Dr. Selye realized, by analogy to physics of a force and a resistance. By the time Dr. Selye realized his misnomer, "stress" had been widely adopted as the term for biological resistance, so Selye retained the term "stress" for the body's resistance and called the causative force "stressor." (pp. 70-1). "Stress" still sometimes is confused between the cause and the effect. If Dr. Selye had the chance to use his preferred word "strain," we would then say that MinBalance programs reduce the body's level of strain. This is what we mean by reducing stress.
  • For stress "a type of pollution, a by-product or waste of life" quoted above, see page 77.
  • Selye preferred simple methods and a panoramic, integrative approach: scanning the horizons instead of focus on details. (p. 255).

Selye, Hans, M.D. (1936). A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents. Nature, 138(3479), 32-32. https://doi.org/10.1038/138032a0. Dr. Selye's original half-page letter to the editor setting forth the stress response, with its characteristic three stages — alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The same stress reponse can be caused by a wide variety of different stimuli.