Dynamic Interactive AdaptabilityYour guide to promoting growth, resilience, and wellness in turbulent times

Article Index

Higher life

From outside of the stress industry, general system theory helps to explain why the dysfunctional killer-disease perspectives should be balanced with functional adaptability perspectives by demonstrating that interdependent components work together to make a system more than its subsequent parts. In the dynamical social, economic, and ecological system in which humans exist, stress is not only a primary survival mechanism; it is also vital for the development of “higher life” (Bertalanffy, 1972, p. 192).

Chaos theory provides insight into the challenges of adaptability in increasingly complex environments by demonstrating how initial conditions can have a major influence on unfolding events within systems, making predictions a risky, if not impossible, process (Capra, 1996; Gleick, 2008). Understanding the dynamical nature of complex open systems helps to emphasize the importance of developing functional coping strategies that allow people to more effectively adapt with and influence the interacting factors in a dynamic environment to foster growth and wellness.


[1] The MSNBC approach to stress is interesting to consider because it is a good example of contemporary stress dialogs. Under the heading of “Stressed Out and Sick”, MSNBC shows a gasping ghostly figure next to a long list of how “Bad Stress” makes people sick: hair loss, depression, asthma, etc. Buried at the bottom of the image is a category called “Good Stress” that lists “fight-or-flight” and “short-term”. [See Image 2].


American Institute of Stress. (n.d.). Stress, definition of stress. Retrieved December 09, 2009, from www.stress.org: http://www.stress.org/topic-definition-stress.htm

American Psychological Association. (2007). For a healthy mind and body... Retrieved December 09, 2009, from APA Help Center: http://www.apahelpcenter.org/featuredtopics/feature.php?id=62

American Psychological Association. (2009). Stress in America 2009. Retrieved December 09, 2009, from APA Health Center: http://www.apahelpcenter.org/

Baltzly, D. (2009, Winter). Stoicism. (E. N. Zalta, Editor, & Metaphysics Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University) Retrieved December 5, 2009, from The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2009/entries/stoicism/

Beehr, T. A., & Newman, J. E. (1978). Job stress, employee health, and organizational effectiveness: A facet analysis, model, and literature review. Personnel Psychology, 665-699.

Bertalanffy, L. V. (1969). General system theory. New York: George Braziller, Inc.

Cannon, W. B. (1914). The interrelations of emotions as suggested by recent physiological researches. American Journal of Psychology, 25, 256-282.

Capra, F. (1996). The web of life. New York: Anchor Books.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (2009). Gospel topics. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from LDS.org: http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?index=1&locale=0&sourceId=876339b439c98010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=bbd508f54922d010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

Cooper, C. L., & Dewe, P. (2004). Stress: A brief history. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Gleick, J. (2008). Chaos: Making a new science (Second ed.). New York: Penguin Books Ltd.

Jex, S. M. (2002). Organizational psychology: A scientist-practitioner approach. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Emotion and adaptation. London: Oxford University Press.

Manzies, H. (2005). Stress and the crisis of modern life. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Douglas & McIntyre.

MSNBC. (2009). Stress products: Do any of them work? Retrieved December 12, 2009, from MSNBC.com: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15774507

Oz, M. (2008). Stress and stress detection. Retrieved December 3, 2009, from Discovery Health: http://health.discovery.com/fansites/dr-oz/aging/devices.html

Oz, M. (2009, September 22). Stress kills: The truth behind America’s #1 health crisis. Dr. Oz Show. ZoCo Productions.

Pearlin, L. I., Menaghan, E. G., Lieberman, M. A., & Mullan, J. T. (1981, December). The stress process. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 22(4), 337-356.

Rosch, P. J. (1998). Reminiscences of Hans Selye, and the birth of "stress". Stress Medicine, 14(1), 1-6. Retrieved December 09, 2009, from Stress Medicine: http://www.stress.org/hans.htm

Saunders, E. D. (1976). Buddhism in Japan. Tokyo, Japan: Charles E. Tuttle Company, Inc.

Schwarzer, R., & Taubert, S. (2002). Tenacious goal pursuits and striving toward personal growth: Proactive coping. In E. Frydenberg, Beyond coping: Meeting goals, visions and challenges (pp. 19-35). London, England: Oxford University Press. Retrieved Schwarzer, R., & Taubert, S. (2002). . In E. Frydenberg (Ed.),” Beyond coping: Meeting goals, visions and challenges (pp. 19-35). London: Oxford University Press.

Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Seneca, L. A. (Translated 1844). L. Annaeus Seneca on Benefits by Lucius Annaeus Seneca. (A. Stewart, Editor, & Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation) Retrieved December 3, 2009, from Project Guttenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/3794



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