Goldilocks, stress and Chrishawn Hopkins

Dateline: Wed 08 Feb 2012

http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/20/the-goldilocks-principle-of-stress-too-little-is-almost-as-bad-as-too-much/?hpt=hp_mid

"A life free of stress and adversity sounds blissful. But, in fact, the happiest and healthiest people are those who have had at least some early exposure to negative experiences, according to a new research review.

"Despite the popular notion, stress isn’t all bad. In fact, low to moderate amounts of stress are necessary for healthy growth. What’s harmful is large doses of uncontrollable stress — experiencing a natural disaster, for instance, or living in extreme poverty — particularly in early life. Also harmful, it turns out, is having experienced no stress at all.

"The new review adds weight to a growing body of evidence that most brain systems function like muscles: they are strengthened through exposure to gradually increasing loads at the appropriate stages of development, but they will wither without exercise and get injured if they are suddenly overloaded without prior training. The stress system is a prime example."

Today's story on Page 1 of the Indianapolis Star about the life and times of Butler University basketball player Chrishawn Hopkins is an excellent example of the above study. Hopkins, 21, has "survived -- and thrived -- despite an Indianapolis environment in which he witnessed violence and learned about death," reports sports writer David Woods.

Hopkins has endured a lot in his young life: "two peers from Manual High School were slain. An uncle who cared for him as an infant is awaiting a murder trial. Hopkins left to live with his father in Las Vegas after his Southside home was struck by bullets in a drive-by shooting...."

This young man was born to a black mother, age 15, and white dad, 20, notes Woods. He was enrolled at a number of schools and lived with his grandmother for a time....his own dad wanted him to not have to endure the 'crab-in-a-barrel' effect of "those in a community who hurt others attempting to get ahead."

Hopkins himself says of his own life and prowess on the court: "I don't really get nervous, just from the type of lifestyle I lived when I was younger. Stepping up to the challenge, I feel it's easy to me."

True, Hopkins had plenty of great mentors along the way -- what writer Gail Sheehy in "Spirit of Survival" called polestars. People, including a couple great coaches, believed in him.

The larger point is that the stress of his lifestyle did not kill him. Like Goldilocks, he experienced just the "right amount" of stress that compelled him forward, on the basketball court and in life.

Sort of makes you rethink the value of a stress-free life.

Here's the link to Woods' excellent story:

http://www.indystar.com/article/20120208/SPORTS0605/202080321/Butler-s-Chrishawn-Hopkins-overcomes-obstacles?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|IndyStar.com|s



Comments

hendy [Member] said:

I saw the stress-free, post-lobotomy life in the movie _One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest_ that Kubrick directed. I think the process is called paying your dues, and some must pay more heavily than others, to produce results.

Listen to Leon Russell's version of Jumping Jack Flash to understand that such things are rituals, and seems to be in our DNA.

That said, I wouldn't with the difficulties that Hopkins incurred on anyone, and pain and suffering doesn't necessary yield All Star basketball skill. But the article that Woods did helps honor the effort that Hopkins went through, well.

2012-02-09 08:00:59

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