Success without Strings Attached

Covid-19, artificial stress and mass reactance

Frederick Dodson

Frederick Dodson

A few years ago, a leaked document from inside the Google company, revealed research into artificially creating “stressors” to manipulate peoples behavior. The document titled Algorithhmic Discrimination from an Environmental Psychology Perspective – Stress Inducing Differential Treatment reads:

“More acute stress can result in a psyschological condition known as reactance (a motivation to regain freedom after it has been lost or threatened) against the situation, or alternatively it can result in resignation to it and life in general, depending on personal factors…”

“Continuing, seemingly unavoidable, unchangaeble, and apparently uncontrollable stress  also regularly leads to the experience of learned helplessness or a certain debilitated acquiescence to fate which is has been linked to impaired cognitive performance.”

“Once we can assess a situation and determine that it is stressful, that “stress” is a significant biological factor, by altering brain cell properties, can disturb cognitive processes such as learning and memory and consequently limit the quality of human life”.

“Anticipating stressful physical situations, for example, crowding or noise, “causes reactive symptoms strikingly similar to actual exposure stressors. When people feel crowded, social withdrawal is likely. This can result in “less eye contact, greater interpersonal distancing, and less initiation of conversation”. In addition the negative effects of anticipating crowding are similar to those that actually result from crowding.

As increased crowding invades ones physical space, people adaptively turn inwards and become more susceptible to mobile ads”.

Is anyone surprised that you won’t find this document searching on Google, even if you spell out the whole title?

What’s your view of a company that aims to make people more susceptible. Weird, right?

A reminder of what that means:


Their observations about reactance and stressors are accurate. But there’s a solution. The document itself hints at a solution.

But first, let’s look at the opposite of “reactance” and “being susceptible”. This thousand-year old Zen Story provides an adequate example:

Zen Master Bukko was residing in the Temple he had built, during a time that Mongols had invaded the country and were scouring the countryside looking to suppress any pockets of resistance. A group of these raided Bukkos Temple, intending to kill all monks, as they had elsewhere. Bukko remained calm in the face of death and their drawn swords. He asked the leader of the soldiers to allow him time to compose a poem to mark the occasion of his death. While the soldiers waited, Bukko took his Calligraphy brush and wrote: 

“In all this world there is no place for me to lay down my staff. Subject and Object are totally empty. How delightful! The great sword of a famous warrior of the past – it is as if a spring breeze were split by a bolt of lightning”.

Impressed by the equanimity with which the monk faced his impeding death, the soldiers retreated without harming any of the members of the community. 

No stress, no harm. That’s a universal. Although the story doesn’t say it, I believe the soldiers got scared in the presence of the monks fearlessness. Radiance of love blocks negative intent.

The leaked Google document, inadvertently reveals the key to releasing stress:

the negative effects of anticipating crowding are similar to those that actually result from crowding.

The mind creates stress. Anticipating (Imagining) crowding has similar effects to actual crowding. Imagining something, has similar effects to it actually happening! If you therefore imagine nothing, like the Zen monk, or imagine something pleasant, you feel  no fear. In 2016 I published the Video Are you Immune to Stress and Tension? on my website, to help you practice this. See Also this article: A New Way of Being. 

The word”crowding” is very interesting too. It is a sense of being “crowded” in space, time or attention that leads to all sorts of tensions, addictions (including addiction to Googles Android devices) and states of unwellness. Well-being, on the other hand, is about feeling expaaaaaanded, wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide, biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig, having spaaaaaaace and tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime.

The mass-stress around Covid-19 has been a good opportunity for practicing the Zen of non-reaction. I saw a news headline the other day. It said something like: “Shock Study: We will never be immune to Covid-19!“. That’s the kind of junk-science that passes as “news” these days. Whether you believe the headline or not, it can create stress either way. If you believe it, it creates the subtle stress of fear. If you don’t believe it, it creates the subtle stress of anger. That can lead to the subtle stress of fear-people arguing with anger-people. Or, you notice the headline, take a breathe, and let it all go on the out-breathe.

But you could also breathe out the fear/anger the moment it arises. Having taught “letting go” for the past 20 years, this is easy for me. As a result, I do not fear Covid-19, nor am I angry at those who fear it. Without fear and anger, I can send compassion. In sending compassion, my energy-level goes up. In my energy-level going up, my immune system becomes stronger. Yes, we do have an immune system, a concept that seems to have been forgotten as of late. I haven’t been seriously ill since more than 30 years. Do you really think that’s a coincidence?

The broadcast of fear-based news is unprecedented in the History of humanity. Fear-based programming around Covid-19 is prevalent on TV, Radio, Internet 24-7.

Don’t watch TV? Don’t use the Internet? Too bad,  because in most countries, it’s plastered on posters in public places – restaurants, public restrooms, sports centers, gas stations, etc. The other day at the Gym, I counted at least twelve posters asking “ARE YOU FEELING SICK?” in large, colorful lettering. Wouldn’t one poster be enough? Or maybe five? Ten at the very most? There was a moving chryon in front of cross-trainers and treadmills, saying IF YOU ARE FEELING SICK, STAY HOME. That’s 14 instances of “You are feeling sick” in a relatively small space, not counting the staircase, the entrance, the exit, the restrooms and the four posters I saw in the parking lot. I am not counting the 10 TV-Screens in front of the Treadmills, that give me additional “Covid Updates”. Do I need that kind of negative programming in my life? What kind of “Gym” transports the “you are sick” message on every single wall?

I went to file a complaint. But they tell me “they re just complying with regulations”. Really? And what’s with tuning in to a radio station that gives Covid-19 alerts every five minutes? Isn’t there a radio station that’s focused on music? I promptly cancelled that Gym and explained why. The place is toxic to peoples’ health. They were unfazed “We’re just following regulations”.

Wanna bet that there are no cases of Covid-19 among people who do not have TV, Radio or Internet, such as the Amish?

Whether you have an appointment at the vets, meet a neighbor or are hanging out with friends, there is barely a conversation without Covid. But what about other or more serious issues? What kind of attention has Heart Disease, Cancer, Homelessness and Unemployment received? Why doesn’t your Government provide daily updates about those? And why do we rarely hear about the good news, such as the fact that Covid-19 is 99% harmless? Or that many non-Covid deaths were mistakenly counted as Covid-related when they weren’t? Or that there are currently only a dozen people in intensive care due to Covid in Sweden. Remember Sweden? The one country that didn’t go on lockdown to put it’s populace out of Business? The population of Sweden is more than 10 Million. People in Covid intensive care: 12. Why isn’t that headlines anywhere?

This coordinated, worldwide campaign, ostensibly to “inform and update”, creates what is described above as reactance. As the leaked document reveals:

Continuing, seemingly unavoidable, unchangaeble, and apparently uncontrollable stress  also regularly leads to the experience of learned helplessness or a certain debilitated acquiescence to fate which is has been linked to impaired cognitive performance.”

As I write like this, you might get angry. But I am not angry while writing. I am not angry at those “are you sick?” posters. Nor am I angry at the people who made them. The emotion I felt while writing this article was compassion.

If you want to stay healthy I recommend no anger, fear or stress – those are what really make people sick.

A stress-less state helps all performance. It’s a false belief that stress is what keeps you going. A person who needs stress to keep them going, is coming from a place of apathy. A person of conscious purpose needs no stress to create beautiful things.

Breathe it in, on the out-breathe, intend to drop it. It’s not important. It’s not here-now. It’s not who you are. Release. Smile and be at Peace.


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