PR 243 | Stress


Dr. Richard Shuster (pronounced Shoe-Stir) is a clinical psychologist, TEDx speaker, CEO of Your Success Insights, renowned media expert, and the host of The Daily Helping podcast. He is a man on a mission to help people become the best versions of themselves and make the world a better place. In this episode, he joins Adam Markel to talk about how people can cope with the stress brought on by these uncertain times. The two discuss the profound and long-term impacts of the pandemic both at home and at work. Businesses will never be the same again. Dr. Shuster shares his thoughts on what the future of work will look like and how organizations should adapt to meet the needs and demands of employees. He also shares his personal pivot and the near-death experience that opened his eyes to becoming the man he is today. Don’t miss out on this episode and get important insight into dealing with stress and building resiliency in your every day.

Show Notes:

  •       00:00-03:19 – Introduction
  •       03:20-07:38 – Dr. Richard Shuster’s Origin Story
  •       07:39-16:56 – From Insufferable Materialist To Licensed Clinical Psychologist
  •       16:57-27:01 – The Ramifications Of The Pandemic On The Psychological Well-Being
  •       27:02-31:07 – Thoughts On Returning To “Normal”
  •       31:08-36:40 – The Future Of Work
  •       36:40-42:36 – Resilience And Managing Stress And Anxiety
  •       42:37-49:56 – How To Empty Your Bucket And Embrace Gratitude
  •       49:57-55:10 – Conclusion And Contact Details

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Dr. Richard Shuster On The Impact Of The Pandemic On Work And How To Manage Stress

I am feeling wonderful because I made time for my morning practice, which I do pretty consistently. I would say almost every day, but not every day do I get a good chunk of time to not feel rushed through my morning practice. I do not know if you all have any morning routines or rituals. I know a lot of people do. Part of our show is talking about resilience. My own beat on resilience is that it is about recovery, not about endurance.

The greatest form of recovery that I know of personally is morning ritual and spiritual practice. Some people pray and meditate, or whatever it is that you do. Maybe you sit in stillness. I frankly love to pray. Prayer could be anything. For me, it was simply gratitude and feeling grateful. I am so happy that the guest that I have on the show, before we were getting ready to record, said that he was feeling filled with gratitude.

I knew we were immediately kindred spirits, as they say. Simpatico. I will read a little bit about this gentleman, and then we are going to dive right in. Dr. Richard Shuster is a Clinical Psychologist, TEDx speaker, CEO of Your Success Insights, renowned media expert, and host of The Daily Helping Podcast. I love the name of that show, which is regularly downloaded in 150-plus countries. His mission is to help people become the best versions of themselves and make the world a better place.

Dr. Richard, it is so great to have you on the show. I read your condensed bio but there is a lot in it. What is something that is not in that bio? Maybe one thing that you would love for people to know about you.

That I have a competitive barbecue team probably because I love barbecue. It is some stuff and it is funny because I go on a lot of these shows, and some people want to read the voluminous manifesto of everything that I have ever done in my life. Yours was short and sweet, but when you drill it all down and peel back all the layers of the onions for me, everything that I do is about helping people in some way, even if it is of no benefit to me. In most instances, it is of no benefit to me. That is the best way to be. We can talk about the science of that as we get into things, but I have never been happier. We are going to have fun so I am looking forward to this. I am grateful to be here and hope I add value to your audience.

I already know that is going to be the case. I love to start with an origin story. You have been on a TEDx stage and our company, among other things, trains people to get on a TEDx stage to create or craft and deliver their ideas. One of the things that we do typically in that work with people and training them to create a script, to begin with, is to find their origin story. The first domino, if you will. I would love to get a sense of what the origin story is for you in terms of the life that you are leading?

That was the nature of my TEDx. I talked about my origin story in that. When I was in my early twenties, I would not have been a candidate to come on this show. I was insufferable, arrogant, and never wanted a family. I only focused on acquiring stuff for the purpose of having stuff. I used to use terms like empire-building. I did refer to it as the Shuster Empire. I would get on eBay and lookup for private islands. I was going to name it after myself. I am not kidding about any of this, including you can buy islands on eBay.

When I was at that age, I bid on a government contract with the Department of Defense that I had no business whatsoever, and I won the contract. This was not building bombs, missiles or anything. This was simply to build the HIPAA Secure pipeline for all the medical records in the Army between two military bases. It is still a big deal.

In my mind, I was off. I was going to be the next Tony Stark before anybody knew who Tony Stark was. Everything was humming along gloriously until one day, I was in a car accident in which I broke my spine and almost died. What is interesting is that there is a phenomenon known as Tachypsychia. I did not know about this at that time and now that I am a psychologist, I can speak about this with some authority. This is something that we know that soldiers have experienced. The best way to describe it is as the first time Neo is in slow motion in The Matrix. Those bullets are going by him and he is looking around. Basically, the brain slows down our perception of time when we are in imminent danger so we can get the heck out of there.

This car accident for me was maybe a three-second span in which the car slammed into me from the side. I am set spiraling into oncoming traffic, my airbag was already gone off, and then I crashed into a telephone pole. We are talking maybe even three seconds. At that time, it was literally like Neo in that Matrix moment.

I could see the center console slowly crushing into my ribs like it was an empty can of Coke. I could see my shattered windshield, little bits of the glass floating in the air, the sunlight reflecting off of it, and it was all very surreal. The thought that I had to myself was not one of, “Dear God, please let me live. If you do, I promise I am going to be a good person for the rest of my life.” It was not like that. I was dead.

I became overwhelmed with shame, guilt and grief. I knew my parents who were out having a great time on a Saturday night with their close friends were about to get a call that their son was dead. My brother was going to find out that I was dead. I am thinking about this car that was almost paid off that I can’t take with me. The watch I was wearing that I was so proud of is not going with me.

We won’t really know the impact of the pandemic on the emotional well-being of people for years. Share on X

All of these thoughts flooded me at that moment, and then I hit the telephone pole. Spoiler alert, I survived. Here I am still, but that was the catalyst. It did not happen right away. I would love to say I balled up a fist in the hospital bed, shook it at the sky and said, “I am going to change lives and do this stuff forever.” It was a process of recovering from that broken spine and having all that time to think about where I was going in my life. That was the catalyst. That was the origin story or the moment that began what I am doing.

That is the inflection point of sorts. It is interesting the collecting stuff. We’re gluttonous in many ways, meaning that we collect a lot of things that we do not necessarily need. Did you go through a period after that where you started to get rid of things? How did your attitude about things in particular change?

The first thing that changed is I stopped researching islands to buy. That was the first thing. I did not go through necessarily purging of stuff, but I looked at things very differently. I thought, “What do I need? What value did I assign things?” We all like stuff and there is nothing wrong with having things because it is something that has intrinsic value. To me, it might not have intrinsic value to the next person.

Where we get into trouble is if we are buying stuff because our neighbor on Facebook is posting about it, “I got to have that too to keep up with the Joneses.” We are getting it for the wrong reasons. I started being more mindful about stuff that I needed. What do I need? I no longer wanted to have a fleet of cars. I no longer wanted to have Omega or Rolex watches for the sake of being able to wear a different one every day of the week or something. It became more of a focus on what matters to me. As I went through this journey more and more, it was the people in my life and finding that thing that brought me joy and fulfillment because it was not the work that I was doing. I went back to work after I recovered.

Were you a psychologist before this happened?

Never. I was a partner in an IT consultant firm. Even though I did my undergrad degree in Psychology, I remember having beers with my buddies on the last day of school saying, “Here is to never setting foot in a classroom ever again for the rest of my life,” and how wrong that was. That was not even on my radar. I was going to build this massive consulting empire. That is what I thought I had to do. I went back to work but everything was like this achromatic shade of gray. I thought it would be the money, and it was not. I was more unhappy day by day to the point where I eventually walked away and quit with no idea what I was going to do.

That was the most terrifying moment of my life but I knew I had to make a shift. I had to pivot. I walked in and told my partners, “I’m out. I’m gone.” I go from about 80 hours a week to nothing. It was scary. I was sitting in my place for months alone and wallowing in regret like, “I should not have done this. I should not have started that business and gotten that contract.” All the while, there are people in my ear. When you do something unexpected like, “I am going to start a business or go on American Idol,” whatever it is, you are going to have people in your ear.

A lot of times, those people in your ear do not even necessarily do this out of malice. When you buck the trend or do something unconventional, people like conventional. One is telling me, “Go be a financial planner. Go to medical school or law school.” Everybody is telling me what I am supposed to do.

I wanted to find my own path. It is so wild when you go take twenty years and you reverse and do the breadcrumbs of what led to this and that. I do not know what I would be doing if that accident and that story happened in 2021 because we have things like Instacart, Amazon Prime and Fresh. Back then, you had to go to the grocery store and places. This was circa 2002 at this point.

PR 243 | Stress

Stress: When things enter the vernacular, when things speak, when we become conditioned to society, they become part of the expected norm. We’re not ready for it emotionally, but we’re conditioned to expect that that’s a possibility.


For me, the first taste was when I went to the grocery store because I needed food. Nobody was going to bring it to me. I overheard these two women talking about their teenage daughters on MySpace. They were a little freaked out and making inappropriate gestures. Everyone was in a bikini and taking these pictures. This was pre-cellphone and MySpace was the thing. I am not typically the person who goes and interrupts other people’s conversations. At this moment, I did because that is the world I was in, network, technology and security. I said, “These are some things you need to think about to keep your kids safe online. Sorry to interrupt. I overheard you.”

Their eyes got huge. I did not mean to freak them out but I did. One of them was the school’s PTA president and said, “Will you come to talk at our school?” I did and it was weird because there was no agenda. I was not up there trying to sell anything. This was simply me helping other people with the knowledge and skills that I had acquired doing my IT stuff. That was the first inkling of this little light glowing in my heart that maybe I am onto something here. There was a guy in the audience who was on that city’s cybercrime unit. He said, “You are a good speaker and you can say things to civilians that we can’t in law enforcement. Would you team up with us?”

Now I have got a speaking circuit. I was like, “How did this happen?” I am talking to schools and I am educating parents. One of these guidance counselors came up to me and said, “We were desperate for male mentors. We have a lot of female mentors but no male mentors,” which I had never done anything like that before. I said, “I will try.”

They gave me a kid who was in the seventh grade. His parents had split and he was acting out. I am not so arrogant to say I am the reason why he changed, but I was certainly a part of that change process. That was another little, “That is exciting and feels good to me. I wonder if I could make a career out of that.” I went and got my Master’s in Social Work first.

That was my first Master’s and I worked with families. It is right when Hurricane Katrina happened. I was in school and where I was living, there was a lot of influx of evacuees from New Orleans. I worked a lot with Katrina families. That was powerful. I continued on and got my doctorate in Clinical Psychology, sub-specialized in Forensic and Neuropsychology. That was the thing.

Whenever you go through something like that, you put this ambitious goal. You put it up on the wall and you are saying, “I am going to be a psychologist.” It is like this seven-year odyssey between internships, boards, this, that and the other. The funny thing is now I am not even doing that work at all, which was another pivot. The journey for me to get from being an insufferable materialistic person to a licensed Clinical Psychologist was this twelve-year journey.

You said we had almost a commonality in where we went to school because you are a Michigan State grad. I only know about the Spartans because I went out to see the campus and meet the swimming coach back in the day. I almost became a Spartan, instead, I became a Minute Man. It is funny to say it but the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is where I ended up going to school. Fortunately, I did that in so many ways because I met my wife. We are college sweethearts.

I do not even know what is more surreal about that. The time that has gone by in such a blink of an eye or the way that our love has developed beyond my comprehension at the time that we fell in love and I asked her. The other thing too is we did not go to the same school, but I was close to going to Michigan State. I meet my wife in Psychology 101. It was the only Psychology class I ever took.

I have never said this on air before but I took my first Psychology class because there was a girl I liked that had signed up for it. I did not end up marrying her.

Businesses are never going to be the same. Share on X

I know that you are not a day-to-day practicing clinical psychologist these days. We’re still looking at the pandemic. We’re not looking back at it because it has not yet released its grip on so many people in so many segments of our world. There is a mixed bag of things, both difficult and challenging for folks, and some wonderful blessings that have already begun to emerge. We have seen a lot of that already as well. As a clinical psychologist, what would you say might be the biggest issue that you have noticed in terms of what is going on over the last years?

There are a lot of statistical things that were getting wind of and I am not trying to tie all this stuff together but there is a rise in suicides, anxiety and depression. My pivot story is a little different from yours. I did not end up in the hospital because of a car accident. I ended up in the hospital because of a panic attack.

I know what anxiety feels like. The statistics are pretty stark there across the board in a lot of demographics, especially with young people. We have seen a rise in mass shootings and things of that sort as well. Not to try to put any bow around a big topic like this, I want to get your thoughts on it as a Clinical Psychologist.

It is interesting because I do not believe that we are going to know the impact on emotional well-being for people for years as to what it is going to look like, in particular, for young people. One of the things that were striking to me was when we dropped our kids off at camp. It’s the happiest day and the saddest day at the same time all wrapped into one.

It was neat though because it was another sign that things were starting to get back to whatever normal is. My other litmus test is you go to Costco and the sample people are back. That is a good sign that we are on our way as a society. In all seriousness, what was wild was the drop-off for camp, the carpool, you show up, you open your door, your kid gets out, you wave goodbye and you are done. They unload all the campers’ cars in basically 15 to 30 minutes. In this instance, where my kids go camping, not only did it take two hours but it caused a traffic jam in the community because all the way down the road, the cars were backed up.

The reason why is that these young children who had not done anything since the pandemic was terrified to get out of their car. They were afraid that they would get Coronavirus if they went camping. Much in the way, we are in uncharted territory in a lot of ways for the younger children because as an adult, we can process this.

We can rationalize information. We can take things and say, “A plus B equals C.” Young children do not necessarily do that and they manage things very differently. The data that is going to be interesting is to see the long-term ramifications. I do not think they are going to be good for children. You are going to see increased separation anxiety and issues with this pervasive fear like, “Could this happen again?” I hope that I am wrong about this but I do not think so. What is also very interesting is we get primed for certain things as a society.

What I mean by that is if you have ever been in South Florida or the East Coast between August and November, what starts popping up on your television around late August? Hurricane season one after another. There are a number of things in play. Number one is we are living in a period and we are going to, “This is the way it is going to be forever.” There is a 24-hour customized information cycle that is just for you. You got your own information cycle and everybody reading this has their own information cycle. It used to be that you would watch the news. You have the news at 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 and the national news at 6:30.

They would talk about, “Here is a hurricane,” and you would get your news. If you lived in an area where you would be impacted by the hurricane, you would take the appropriate action. Now, what do you got? Now you got and all these things that are bombarding your phone. Now we name winter storms and we do all these things.

PR 243 | Stress

Stress: The stress hormones are supposed to just flood our systems and help us run and get some degree of homeostasis and normalcy. We’ve been bombarded with that [stress], so you don’t get a break physiologically.

When things enter the vernacular or when we become conditioned as a society, they become part of the expected norm. This is not a tinfoil hat thing. This is science. It’s like there was no such thing as road rage. It did not exist until somebody made up another road rage. What it did was it took the personal responsibility away from people, and now you could allocate it to road rage. With this pandemic, as a society and as a planet, we had not dealt with anything like this since 1918 when the world was quite different.

What happened is now we are primed. We have gone through this experience. It would not surprise me if, in the future, we wake up and all of our phones are blasted with this news update as we are reading our morning news, “New strain of Coronavirus that’s completely resistant to all forms of vaccines. Lockdown 2.0.” We are ready for it.

We are not ready for it emotionally but we are conditioned to expect that that is a possibility. It is a very long-winded and possibly tangential answer to parts of your question, specifically addressing the other aspects, the anxiety, depression and increase in violence. There has been a tremendous uptick in domestic violence. We know that is a significant thing.

Drugs and alcohol users are up radically. This goes back to a part of what I was talking about before. We are not built for this. Our biology at least does not change over millions of years. We are designed as a species to encounter stress. We have a neuro-biological response to deal with whatever that stress is and the response is to get out of there so that we have safety.

We hormonally return to baseline. Our heart rate returns to baseline and we go back about our day, foraging, hunting and doing what we do. It is the saber-toothed tiger analogy. Coronavirus is a saber-toothed tiger that is in our house. Everywhere we look, whether we look on TV, on phones or in our communities, that is all anybody talked about for a year. Understandably so because this is uncharted territory. It has been that saber-toothed tiger.

Whereas the stress hormones that are supposed to flood our systems to help us run and then get some degree of homeostasis and normalcy, we have been bombarded with that. You do not get a break physiologically. The information stream, wherever you are taking that from, is going to be based on this. It was doom and gloom. We did not know what they were telling us initially.

I want to reflect this back to you and see if I got it right. On some level, it is the crisis du jour. We talked about the fact that hurricanes are one part of that crisis du jour. Because of the way we are so connected and curated to personal news cycle based on algorithms and things we have no control over, we are being fed a slow drip like an IV drip of things that trigger that fight-flight.

It triggers cortisol or other chemicals, so there are always trickling or dripping inside of us versus, “I did not see that coming.” We respond at the moment and then we go back to this equilibrium or homeostasis. Somebody might call it something else, but our heart rates return to normal and we go about our day.

It doesn’t seem like we are getting a break from it. As you described it, to have a saber-toothed tiger is not a thing that happens every so often and we deal with it. It lives with you. We do not know what the long-term ramifications are. We are seeing short-term things that appear to be aberrational or at least appear to be that you are seeing a trend with greater violence, higher incidents of alcohol, and other abuses of drugs. I do not know that there is any returning to normal. It is like returning to the past. We can’t return to yesterday. People want to go back to something we call normal. That in and of itself is another stressor because normal is not returning any more than yesterday is. Am I wrong about that?

Companies with employees who have balance and feel fulfilled, respected, and safe to be able to express their values thrive. The retention rates are higher. Share on X

No. I am not a virologist so I can’t speak to herd immunity and all of these fun things. It is what normal represents to the individual. If normal represents taking their kids to a Yankees game, the people in Yankee Stadium and not cardboard cutouts, that is some semblance of normal. There is going to be a return to something, but we do not know exactly what that is. The next question is, “What happens next?” These vaccines appear effective. I took mine, full disclosure. It’s pure effective but what happens? There were a lot of people who did not take them. It is not a political statement. They did not take it for whatever reason.

That is entirely a personal choice.

What happens when Ticketmaster now has a new edict that says, “If you want to go to a concert, you have to prove you have been vaccinated.” There are probably half of you reading this that say, “I got my vaccine. That sounds totally reasonable.” Maybe some of you are saying, “I am left out of things. I am left out of family events.”

This is such a complicated thing that we are only starting to look at the possibilities of what things are going to look like. I can say this with confidence, businesses are never going to be the same. Commercial real estate is never going to be the same. Businesses found out pretty quickly that, “Our employees are working from home. We are still turning a profit.”

The health and wellness of the homebound employee is a totally different subject matter. From a revenue-generating standpoint, if my company is totally virtual or I own a company like a multi-location company with brick-and-mortar, and I am paying for all of the things that are involved in maintaining a commercial property, why am I doing that? When we take away that thing that was a normal part of the way things have been done forever. You would go to work, kiss the wife goodbye, you have gone to the office and you come home.

All of a sudden, it is different now. There are two things that happen when an employee works from home, and this is pre-COVID data. Employees tend to work more hours when they are at home than when they are in an office because there are no boundaries anymore. That is a problem when you used to shut it down from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. It is a problem now when an email comes in at 9:00 and you are expected to deal with it. There is pressure like, “This is work. Work is work.” Those are the things that we are going to wrestle with. Certainly, we are social beings. The fact that we were isolated for so long will increase emotional distress. We need to be around each other. Thank God that is happening again, but there is a ton of fallout that is still to come from all this.

I am fascinated about the topic that we are on right now, which is the impact on the future of work and the present of work. Statistics are all over the place, but for the most part, many employers are finding that they did not achieve productivity gains during the pandemic. There are some that did. Some organizations that were more culturally resilient were taking care of their employees’ mental and physical wellness. There are companies that were committed at that level and understood that it is not about encouraging and rewarding even the behavior of the night owl or the person who works the extra twenty hours a week thing.

It is rewarding the behavior of practices and routines that enable a person to go the distance that enables them to recover, as athletes do from the stress and exertion of competition so that they can continue to perform at higher levels. Organizations that understood that going into the pandemic fared better during the pandemic. They were the more resilient ones, but that is a small percentage of organizations globally.

The opposite was true for so many, which is that they were used to exhausting their workforce, whatever they could get the most out of them for the amount that they are paying them. With those organizations, productivity fell off the table. A lot of those same companies want to bring their employees back into the office and the commercial space because that is where they have some control over what they do with their time.

PR 243 | Stress

Stress: Having wellness be a first focus, a primary table setter for the organization, is a really positive thing that came out of this pandemic.


It feels like there is already tension between those two. The employer, on the one hand, is the one that brings that person back or those teams back into the space to collaborate, create and produce more, and those same employees that have been working at home and learned on some level that it is a challenge to create boundaries for your time when there is no separation between the workspace and home space.

Yet, those employees, which in many cases are Millennials, would like to now maintain that control over their working conditions. They are on a Zoom and have a dress or shirt on but they are still in their pajama bottoms. That is okay to do because it is how they have gotten used to doing it and it gives them a lot of personal freedom. What can you say about that? Any thoughts on that?

My other business is in this space of employee wellness and balance. It has been pre-pandemic. I have already been here. What is interesting is that you do have that conflict. It was already a bit of a cultural conflict because Millennials work quite a bit different than Gen X-ers and Boomers. That is a whole other show. You already had this generational divide on what you thought work should be. The example of the pajamas was perfect. One of my favorite guests I have ever had on my show was Bob Burg, The Go-Giver. Bob is amazing.

When Bob wrote The Go-Giver and talked that everything companies do should be mission-centric and help people, a lot of people looked at that and like, “That is nonsense.” Over time that is taken hold to where many businesses now have a value-laden built-in mission into why they do what they do. It is something that Millennials in particular strongly gravitate towards. They want to work for companies that they know are doing good on the planet.

It is Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh’s book. It was in Bob Burg’s book.

He was the godfather of that, but the analogy to that is apt when we are talking about wellness with employees because it was a small percentage of companies that had pre-existing mechanisms to deal with the overall wellness and happiness of their employees. The data is so clear on this. The employees that feel fulfillment, respected, part of a team, and safe to be able to express their values, those companies thrive. The retention rates are higher. There are so much good data on all of this stuff.

I do not care that the reason why was because they lost revenue during a pandemic. I am glad that we are going to see organizations moving towards this is nonsense that you need one HR representative to go around and occasionally pop to 1,000 people and say, “How do you feel? Here is a link to our EAP,” to having wellness being a primary table-setter for the organization. That is a positive thing that came out of this pandemic.

I am so happy you brought that up because I do feel like there is a shift there. Among the work that I do more frequently is a keynote for organizations or delivering workshops for organizations. I get hired for that quite a bit. The topic that I have been speaking about for years now is resilience. I have a book coming out that is all about resilience, but we have been training and teaching about resilience for a long while. That was fashionable, I suppose. Resilience, for the most part, was thought of as a soft skill. You talk about homeostasis or helping employees produce an equilibrium of balance or work-life harmony.

These are seen as soft skills pre-pandemic. Organizations have a sense that this is anything but soft. I would love to get a sense from you. You have a company called Your Success Insights. You are involved in a podcast called The Daily Helping. I would love to get, from your perspective, how you look at this topic of resilience and how you speak about it in those outlets where you have influence. Many people define it differently. I almost feel like there are as many definitions for resilience as there are people asking to define it. I would love to get your beat on that.

It's not stress that kills us but a lack of recovery from stress Share on X

If my kid asks me, “What is resiliency, daddy?” It is if somebody knocks you on your ass, you get up and keep going. Rocky is resilient. It is the belief in a lot of what I do. I have had two pivots. I know we do not have time to talk about my second one probably. Through my podcast and my company, we became focused on finding ways to help people through algorithms and technology that we have developed and help people achieve that balance.

With resiliency, there are a lot of things that go into that. There is internal resiliency. If you take two people and you put them through the same situation, let’s take a hurricane, and they saw everything they own get washed away, person A will say, “It is just stuff,” and not miss a beat, but person B will never recover from that emotionally. They are traumatized and that is where they stay. They stay focused there pretty much for the rest of their life.

It is such a complicated thing. You have a genetic predisposition. You have the degree of pre-existing stress in one’s life. The best analogy that I was taught was when I was on my internship at an in-patient forensic hospital in Florida. I had a supervisor who defined stress like this, “It is a bucket of water.” Anxiety and stress are the water. Everybody has got a bucket. For some people, their buckets are higher. When you are talking about resiliency, the people who are the most resilient are able to empty their bucket quicker so that it doesn’t spill over and burn their lives.

Being able to manage your anxiety involves a variety of factors. One, what degree of support system do you have? How are your health and wellness? You talked about a morning routine to start off the day. Are you engaging in wellness practices so that you are better equipped to handle stressors or is it all, “Look at this. Here we go.” Mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, I love that.

It is holistic. It is not just Rocky. It is not just about taking the physical hits and getting back up the way he does.

It is being able to take the mental hits. I always have a high degree of self-determinism. I learned a lot of that from my late father who was an entrepreneur and he was a dentist. He did his own thing, and doing your own thing can be scary. There are many factors that go into resiliency. We call it a multifactorial. At the end of the day, it is that combination of, “Can you get back up? Do you believe that you can take the next punch?” The next punch is always coming.

Anybody that thinks this is the last time we are going to get challenged in this way, that is silly. The likelihood that we will get challenged again in a similar way is pretty high at this point because it is now part of this collective consciousness. It is interesting because maybe we all have to understand that the time to be developing your resilience is now.

I want to get your sense of this too because if you do not agree, I want to hear it. I feel that resilience, there are epigenetics and genetics involved. There are all kinds of things that would predispose a person to be resilient, even to the point where kids that have had adverse life experiences early on in their lives are in many ways more resilient if they are still around. It can be learned at any age.

I love the way you described that. I have never heard that analogy used before, but to be able to empty your bucket regularly so that it doesn’t spill over is a pretty interesting thing. How it is that you do that leads to the next question I have for you. What do you do to empty your bucket? You are an entrepreneur. You got a lot of things going on, as many of us do. What do you do for yourself to keep the bucket from spilling over?

PR 243 | Stress

Stress: There’s always a way to build some of those protective factors into our lives that we can utilize so we’re better insulated when things hit the fan.


Time for me is always of the most valuable resource I have. I build into my schedule personal time. That might be I want to try this wild Korean barbecue restaurant recipe that I learned about online. I want to watch some Marvel movies with my kid or spend time with my wife. Whatever it is, I build it into my schedule.

If anybody is reading this and saying, “That is easy for you to say. I am too busy.” We can always find a way. Maybe it is twenty minutes in the morning before we start our day or during lunch, we spend ten minutes meditating or whatever it is. There is always a way to build some of those protective factors into our lives that we can utilize so that we are better insulated when things hit the fan.

Emptying the bucket, I want to keep to that visual for myself because we feel somehow that we get more points at work, with people or in heaven because we have this capacity to be busy all the time. Sometimes, I will ask an organization, “Are your people too busy to think big? Are they too busy, overwhelmed or burned out even to think big?” Thinking bigger and broader is what we all have to do at any point in our lives.”

Going back to the start of time, we wouldn’t have fire if somebody did not think bigger and broader. We certainly wouldn’t have an automobile, plane, moonshot or anything else. To be able to think and act in accordance with greater, bigger and broader ideas and even dreams is everything. It is certainly everything in business, but it is everything to the human heart. We perish if we do not have a big vision.

It is Maslow. If you do not have basic food and shelter, how do you self-actualize? If you are always running around like a chicken with your head cut off, where do you have the space to reflect, plan and dream? You have to allow yourself that space at an organizational level or an individual level. You have to.

We are winding some things down here. If there is something that we covered or maybe even did not cover that you would love to either close and open-loop here or even put something else in for emphasis, I would love to get your final thoughts.

A few years ago, I was on top of my game. I had done my TEDx and signed some big contracts. Life was perfect. I suffered a stroke and almost died. I am not the type of person who you would expect to have a stroke. I do not drink and smoke. I have never done drugs. I had some friends who told me that is probably why I had my stroke.

In all seriousness, I ate right. I worked out sometimes twice a day, seven days a week. I meditate. I did everything and it still happened. It is because I was out of balance. I did not think I was. The lie that I told myself and many entrepreneurs do is, “It’s not work if you love what you do.” If you were working for an incredible degree, your body will tell you and you might not want to listen. It is so important to have balance. It is so important to take the time to do the things so that the bucket is never fully empty, but keep that water level low. If you do those things, you’ll be alright. We’ll all be alright.

It is not stress that kills us. It is the lack of recovery from the stress that kills us. I even heard somebody say some years ago, “It is not stress. It is the way we define stress and how we see stress.” Our mindset around it or our mental outlook about it has a great deal to do with it as well. For example, we are going to finish up the show and I got some other things going on. We got a mini-TED evening that we are producing with three of our folks that are going to deliver their talks. We have this place that we live in a few months of the year. It’s more than a few months now that we are empty-nesters. I am going to go down to the water, get in the water and swim in the ocean.

You can't be grateful and fearful at the same time. It's physiologically impossible. Share on X

I’m going to get on Instagram and talk about self-care and doing these things. On some level, it feels like there are a lot of that conversations happening. I always feel a little strange about that because there are genuinely people who if you are working a job and it is an hourly wage job or sometimes it is a minimum hourly wage, you can’t go to the beach and have a swim. It is not possible for a lot of people to do that.

While that might be an ideal of sorts, it is not the only way to take care of yourself. To me, the most important time of the day is the first ten minutes when I can sit quietly. On a great day, I got to sit longer than ten minutes and just be where I am peaceful and create peace on the inside that permeates everything on the outside for me. I can’t control whether I get an email that is disturbing or some other crappy piece of news. There is no controlling. Uncertainty drives us a bit bad. Doesn’t it, doctor?

It does. It is like anything else. Whatever comes at you, you have control as to how you react to it. I know intuitively that if somebody robs me, I am going to feel this way. I am going to be upset. We have control over how we react. Most importantly, we have control over how long we allow that thing, be it an email, hurricane or pandemic, to impact us.

Knowing that is freeing because if we realize we are in control, instead of being impacted outward by outward things, we can turn inward with gratitude and love, and focus on the good things. When we focus on that, it can’t be in two states at the same time. You can’t be grateful and fearful at the same time. It is physiologically impossible.

They are mutually exclusive.

That is right, so why not be grateful?

Wrapping this up, I will say I love the analogy you provided us. I am going to continue to come back to it again and again. To me, what you truly do have control over is how you empty that bucket because of that drip, the email here, this news and that situation, what you saw on TV, my blue team or red team. It drips until the bucket fills up.

Sometimes it is called the straw that breaks the camel’s back. In this case, it is the bucket that spills over because there has not been a conscious and concerted effort to empty the stress out of the bucket. That is why it is so vital that no matter what you do for a living or where you are in the world, you have your rituals and routines that you create for yourself to create recovery zones. Whether those are ten minutes to sit quietly or it is twenty minutes to take a walk. Put your feet up the wall and close your eyes in the middle of the day or go hug somebody or go volunteer.

Go do something that makes sure your heart feels good or whatever it might be. These are small things that clump together collectively. It helps to continue to empty the bucket so that it is not one thing after another thing that produces a disease of a sort. I appreciate your time and the conversation we have had.

PR 243 | Stress

Stress: We have control over how we eat, how we react, and, more importantly, over how long we allow that thing, whatever it is, to impact us. Knowing that is freeing.


I loved it. It was great being here.

Everybody, have a wonderful rest of your day. Before you go, if you know somebody that would benefit from what Dr. Richard and I have been talking about, please feel free to share this episode with them. We love to get your thoughts as well because your comments and feedback are vital to us. You can leave a comment at

I will give you a link or URL that is powerful too. We want people to know where they stand at this moment when it comes to their own mental, emotional, physical and spiritual resilience. You can go to Three minutes is all it takes to answer sixteen questions. The assessment will take about three minutes and then you’ll get a score as well as resources. It is entirely free.

We are not selling anything there. It is a very good way for us to help you to find out where you are at this moment. We so appreciate you taking the time to do that. Lastly, Dr. Richard and I both did a Ted talk around the same time. In my talk, I shared my waking ritual, which is three easy steps. I would like to remind everybody, if you haven’t heard it, be the first time. It’s wake up. Dr. Richard, did you wake up today?

I sure did.

I can tell. Some of us were still in the process of waking up. That is good. Wake up in that moment. You realize you are getting another day. You are waking up. You can realize that there are people who are not waking up at that moment and didn’t get the blessing of a new day. You can feel gratitude as Dr. Richard was saying how gratitude is so important.

Step two is to feel gratitude in that moment that you wake up and realize it was not guaranteed when you went to bed the night before. Third, if you feel inclined to do it, put your feet on the floor and say something out loud to start your day. I used to put my feet on the floor back in the day when I was a practicing attorney. I have spent eighteen years in that field.

When I used to put my feet on the floor, I used to feel anxious to begin the day and sometimes even worse feeling than that. Sometimes, the words came out of my mouth that I can’t repeat now. They are rough. Now, when I put my feet on the floor, I say the words that are written on my t-shirt. Four simple but impactful words for me, “I love my life.” I love my life no matter what. I wish you all a beautiful and blessed rest of your day, everybody. Dr. Richard, thanks so much for being a guest on the show.

Absolutely. I loved it.


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About Dr. Richard Shuster

PR 243 | StressDr. Richard Shuster  (pronounced Shoe-Stir) is a clinical psychologist, TEDx speaker, CEO of Your Success Insights, renowned media expert, and the host of The Daily Helping podcast which is regularly downloaded in over 150 countries. His mission is to help people become the best versions of themselves and make the world a better place.