Evaluating stress through a systems perspective
From a systems perspective, Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1972) provided an insight that is contrary to the stress-is-a-killer-disease dogma. In short: “stress… creates higher life” (p. 192). If organisms simply return to homeostatic equilibrium after being disturbed by external forces, life would have never evolved beyond amoebas. “Life is not a comfortable settling down in pre-ordained groves of being; at its best, [life] is… inexorably driven towards a higher form of existence” (p. 192).
Bertalanffy's view evokes Selye’s (1956) declaration about the secret of happiness as a successful adaptation to changing conditions. In other words, happiness does not come from changing the environment to eliminate stress but by successfully adapting to reality. The consequences of failing to adapt are “disease and unhappiness” (p. VII). Further, successfully reaching a stress-free state means the organism achieves death; a point people may want to keep in mind when they hear pitches about products and programs that will reduce or eliminate stress.