01 Apr 2015

The Art of Living: Are you a Stress Reducer or a Stress Inducer?

01 Apr 2015


 By Lori Hope Baumel

Originally appeared in Around Wellington Magazine on May 1, 2015


Morikami Museum and Gardens. Photo: Eric Baumel.

Warning: This article contains strongly insightful language!


In life, I find there are two different types of people in this world; stress reducers and stress inducers. “What does this have to do with the arts,” you might ask? Everything, but we’ll get to that later.


Shakespeare said it best:

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts…

As You Like It, Act II, Scene 7


On this stage we call “life,” what part do you actually play? I am not asking what part do you want to play, I am asking what character do you play? What type of effect do you have on the people around you and what type of effect do you have on your own well-being?


I find that people who tend to be “stress reducers” have the following characteristics. They are:

– Problem solvers

– Patient

– Compassionate

– Hard-working

– Gifted with good listening skills

– Wisely proactive

– Generous, but not to a fault

– Unconditionally loving

– Excellent at time management

– Confident

– Maintain a degree of self-respect

Most importantly, they are humble enough to admit to making a mistake. These types of people tend to have hobbies, are constantly learning and are open-minded to new things.


Unfortunately, those who are stress inducers have character flaws that they rarely recognize. They are:


– Jealous

– Bossy

– Critical

– Hurtful or don’t think before they speak

– Disrespectful of one’s space, property and private time

– Liars or cheaters

– Self-absorbed and feel the world should revolve around him/her

– “Dumpers” (they dump their problems on you as if you have none of your own)

Often this type of character has no sense of self-worth and is constantly seeking fulfillment, rarely aware that contentment comes from a sense of completion.


Sometimes, there’s a third party involved. Now think about this SLOWLY: the stress inducers aggravate the stress reducers, who THEN turn to another stress reducer for help. Sounds like an episode of Downton Abbey, right?


Now, don’t get all huffy if you have one or two of the characteristics in both of the inducer/reducer categories. That’s to be expected at times. We are all human beings with instinctual responses. What is most important is to recognize that we are all works in progress and we can hone our personalities. I am often reminded of the scene in the Wizard of Oz… All the cowardly lion needed was a medal for courage and the scarecrow was given a diploma for society to recognize that he was smart.


This is where living a cultural life steps in. YOU can be both the artist and the work of art. YOU can mold or sculpt yourself in any manner you wish. If you are a stress reducer, then you are the kind of person who recognizes that there is always room for improvement. If you are a stress inducer, you have to calm down and take control of your own life. You may very well be hurting those you love most, unintentionally.


A very wise friend, Mr. Johnny Bergstrom, once told me to post the following words on a post-it note in my office:


“I am a work in progress and I’m okay with that.”


Quite frankly, I have found those words to be helpful on many occasions. I try to recognize all the beauty that surrounds me. In addition, in the small amount of spare time I have, I try to learn something new. In turn, I use the techniques learned to be more creative. Being inventive and imaginative is extremely stress reducing.


Make a list. Write down things you would really like to do more of. For example:


– Read books: stop by the library, download some audio books or eBooks

– Paint or draw

– Write poetry or song lyrics

– Shut off the news and listen to music in the car

– Try your hand at photography (most cell phones have great cameras)

– Plant a colorful bed of flowers in your garden

– Take up a craft or hobby like beading jewelry or woodwork

– Appreciate a sunrise or sunset: you have two chances daily

– Look back at some old photos that bring back good memories

– Take a few moments each day to get some fresh air. When you do, observe the beauty around you. Listen to the sounds of nature: the birds, the breeze and the rustle of leaves.


I could go on – but I think you get the message by now.  Simply:

Live… Go… Do!

Top 5 for April 2015


April is the tail end of tolerable daytime temperatures in South Florida before the summer begins. Go for a stroll in the beautiful gardens that Palm Beach County has to offer.


1) Visit:

Mounts Botanical Garden

 Mounts Plants

      Photo: Courtesy of Mounts Botanical Garden

With a mission to inspire the public, Mounts Botanical Garden is Palm Beach County’s oldest and largest botanical garden, offering gorgeous displays of tropical and sub-tropical plants, plus informative classes, workshops, and other fun-filled events. The Garden contains more than 2,000 species of plants, including Florida native plants, exotic and tropical fruit trees, herbs, palms, bromeliads and more.  Mounts Botanical Garden is a facility of the Palm Beach County Extension Service, which is in partnership with the University of Florida and the Friends of Mounts Botanical Garden.


Located at 531 North Military Trail in West Palm Beach, The Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County is open Monday-Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. The suggested donation for entry to the Garden is $5 per person. For more information, please call 561.233.1757 or visit www.mounts.org.

2) Explore 


The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens


This tranquil, lakeside destination offers Japanese tea ceremonies, festivals, classes & a sushi cafe.

4000 Morikami Park Rd,

Delray Beach, FL 33446

(561) 495-0233


For information go to: morikami.org


3) Listen to enriching podcasts or stream free music:


If you have an iPhone, you may not even be aware that you have a Podcast app. If you bring up the app, you can download a variety of interesting and enriching podcasts. Lately, I have been listening to James Altucher, author of the best-selling book Choose Yourself. Amongst his many interviews and titles, he offers a variety of inspiring discussions that are fascinating to listen to.


Spotify and Pandora are free apps that bring me much joy. You can stream music for free (with ads). If you feel you “need a lift,” pick a category of songs with an upbeat tempo. If you want a more meditative sound, choose from a variety of genres that suit your taste.





According to a blog by Leah Rocketto, Laughter naturally– and legally– reduces stress and makes us feel plain happier. But what isn’t so well known is that giggling like a schoolgirl (or boy) actually increases blood flow throughout the body.”

To see more of her blog go to:



I find that getting together with friends or relatives who have a great sense of humor to be most relaxing. Depending on your budget, you can picnic or throw a Frisbee around Okeeheelee Park, arrange a night out on the town or just get together and watch some comedy on TV. If it’s a fun night out you choose to share, perhaps pick up tickets to one of these events:


The Kravis Center Presents:


Kathy Griffin Live! Friday, April 24th at 8 PM

(Note: performance contains adult language)

MythBusters Jamie & Adam UNLEASHED! Saturday, April 25 at 8 pm.


Pippin April 28 – May 3 (see website for times)

For tickets and information go to: Kravis.org


On Your Home Screen:

In some cases, due to adult language and subject matter, viewer discretion advised.


Veep (HBO, resumes April 12)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (now on Netflix)

The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (Comedy Central)

Modern Family (ABC)

Mom (ABC)

Saturday Night Live (NBC – now in its 40th year)


5) Enjoy:






Gardens Conservancy to present a special exhibition of

Ann Norton’s drawings: Beyond the Garden Gates


In its second year, the Gardens Conservancy at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens is hosting a special event for the community, to honor its mission of expanding the visibility and appreciation of artist Ann Norton’s work and legacy.


From April 1-4, the historic home on the grounds of the Sculpture Gardens will host “Beyond the Garden Gates” a very special exhibition of Ann Norton’s charcoal and pastel studies for her iconic gateway structures, Tibetan and bird series. As a way to introduce the Gardens to even more guests, the Gardens Conservancy will open the Gardens to the public on Saturday, April 4 free of charge. “Ann’s drawings are quite revealing,” said Frances Fisher, founding chair for the Gardens Conservancy. “They show her thought process on the way to creating her monuments. Her drawings reflect her impact from an artistic point of view and they continue the process of bringing her story to life. Once you get to know Ann, you can’t help but fall in love with her story, these beautiful gardens, this wonderful and historic home, and her significance as an American artist. We hope guests will continue to get to know Ann Norton through her gift to our community of this very special place.”


The never-before-exhibited works were executed circa 1950s to 1970s. Along with rare personal and archival materials, and maquettes of some of the monuments currently displayed in the Gardens, the exhibition will give the viewer an intimate glimpse of Ann Norton’s creative process and her artistic significance.


For Conservancy membership information or details for the April exhibition at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, please visit www.ansg.org or call 561-832-5328. The rare palm and sculpture gardens, exhibition galleries and artist studio are located at 2051 South Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach and are currently open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.


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