STRESS AND LIVING LIFE IN CRESCENDO

All of the traumatic events listed in the charts below will lead to stress. But I contend that if your life is led with purpose, you spend less time dwelling on the negative and focusing on the tasks at hand, gleaning the most positive things you can from any trauma. Life happens, but its how you play the hand you’re dealt that matters. Just ask people like Stephen Hawking, who has been a prisoner of his body due to ALS for most of his life.

In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe surveyed over 5,000 medical patients as a way to determine whether stressful events might cause illnesses. Patients were asked to tally a list of 43 life events based on a relative score. A positive correlation of 0.118 was found between their life events and their illnesses.

Their results became known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. Rahe carried out a study in 1970 testing the reliability of the stress scale as a predictor of illness. The scale was given to 2,500 US sailors and they were asked to rate scores of ‘life events’ over the previous six months. Over the next six months, detailed records were kept of the sailors’ health. There was a +0.118 correlation between stress scale scores and illness, which was sufficient to support the hypothesis of a link between life events and illness.

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Life event

Life change units

Death of a spouse 100
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Death of a close family   member 63
Imprisonment 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Dismissal from work 47
Retirement 45
Marital reconciliation 45
Change in health of family   member 44
Pregnancy 40
Business readjustment 39
Sexual difficulties 39
Gain a new family member 39
Change in financial state 38
Death of a close friend 37
Change to different line of   work 36
Change in frequency of   arguments 35
Major mortgage 32
Foreclosure of mortgage or   loan 30
Change in responsibilities at work 29
Trouble with in-laws 29
Child leaving home 29
Outstanding personal   achievement 28
Spouse starts or stops work 26
Begin or end school 26
Change in living conditions 25
Revision of personal habits 24
Trouble with boss 23
Change in working hours or   conditions 20
Change in schools 20
Change in residence 20
Change in recreation 19
Change in church activities 19
Change in social activities 18
Minor mortgage or loan 17
Change in sleeping habits 16
Change in eating habits 15
Change in number of family   reunions 15
Vacation 13
Christmas 12
Minor violation of law 11


To measure stress according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, the number of “Life Change Units” that apply to events in the past year of an individual’s life are added and the final score will give a rough estimate of how stress affects health. The test below relates to adults:
Score of 300+: At risk of illness.

Score of 150-299+: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).

Score 150-: Only have a slight risk of illness.

A modified scale has also been developed for non-adults. Similar to the adult scale, stress points for life events in the past year are added and compared to the rough estimate of how stress affects health.

Life Event

Life Change Units

Death of parent 100
Unplanned   pregnancy/abortion 100
Getting married 95
Divorce of parents 90
Acquiring a visible deformity 80
Fathering a child 70
Jail sentence of parent for   over one year 70
Marital separation of   parents 69
Death of a brother or   sister 68
Change in acceptance by   peers 67
Unplanned pregnancy of   sister 64
Discovery of being an   adopted child 63
Marriage of parent to   stepparent 63
Death of a close friend 63
Having a visible congenital   deformity 62
Serious illness requiring   hospitalization 58
Failure of a grade in   school 56
Not making an   extracurricular activity 55
Hospitalization of a parent 55
Jail sentence of parent for   over 30 days 53
Breaking up with boyfriend   or girlfriend 53
Beginning to date 51
Suspension from school 50
Becoming involved with   drugs or alcohol 50
Birth of a brother or   sister 50
Increase in arguments   between parents 47
Loss of job by parent 46
Outstanding personal   achievement 46
Change in parent’s   financial status 45
Accepted at college of   choice 43
Being a senior in high   school 42
Hospitalization of a   sibling 41
Increased absence of parent   from home 38
Brother or sister leaving   home 37
Addition of third adult to   family 34
Becoming a full fledged member of a church 31
Decrease in arguments   between parents 27
Decrease in arguments with   parents 26
Mother or father beginning   work 26

Score of 300+: At risk of illness.

Score of 150-299+: Risk of illness is moderate. (reduced by || 30% from the above risk)

Score 150-: Slight risk of illness.

Again, I don’t have a mathematical formula to the decrease in risk of illness when one lives life in crescendo, but given that Stephen Hawking has lived for seventy years, and most of my other crescendo heroes just keep on trucking because they don’t know enough to slow down.

Stay tuned for my series on Crescendo Heroes—individuals that don’t have the time to worry about affliction or dwell on bad karma because they’re creating too much good in their own respective worlds.

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