Four weeks after gaining feeling back in my ear (it had gone numb from tension), Yvette, my wife, and I headed up to Shenandoah National Park. It was the weekend of July 4th, and I was hoping that being in the backcountry would save me from having to experience the joltz on my nervous system often prompted by fireworks.

The Universe had other plans, which not only included fireworks every night, but also fellow hikers who wanted their tent right next to mine. Given the spaciousness of the backcountry, I got annoyed. Which, I’ve gotta say, didn’t bode well for friendly conversations. 

What Can You Control?

I couldn’t control him, the fireworks, or the temperature, which dipped down into the low 40’s… in July.

Really, God, I thought—I’m trying to reduce my tension here!

As the fireworks continued late into each night, I decided to try a different approach—redirecting my attention to an aspect of camping that I love: the fire. Adding wood to stir the fire brought joy, lessening the frustration attached to each explosion.

I didn’t get the best sleep, but I slept better than I had in past years on the Fourth. And while nothing changed on the outside, I changed the one thing I could control—my response.

Finding Purpose in Your Problems

Rather than resisting the reality of this pandemic, health challenges, vaccines, changes in work, masks, aging parents, needy children, or wars, we would do well to increase our awareness around what’s causing the discomfort, see what we can do to offer ourselves comfort, and choose to be fully present to the experience.  

By staying in the uncomfortable experience—trusting myself, and taking control over what I could in the midst of what could have been a very stressful situation—I was able to use the experience to practice reducing stress in the moment. 

Progress! And a little more peace. 

In the moment, I did not prefer that experience, but now I am thankful—for those fireworks, my numb ear, and all the difficult experiences life has tossed my way. I’ve heard it said a few different ways that:

“If my problems have brought me to prayer, they have served an important purpose.”  

Alas, being brought to prayer means being brought back to my inner wisdom, to my higher power… to that loving voice inside, guiding me along the way. And, for that, I am thankful.

For me, being brought to prayer is about learning:

to let go,
to trust in life,
to accept people as they are,
to accept myself as I am,
to remember what’s meant for me will not miss me,
to know my inherent value,
to stop hustling for my worth,
to do the things that bring me joy purely because they bring me joy, and
to rest peacefully in being.

What about you? How do you reduce uncontrollable stress?

Here’s to your greatness, 

Misti Burmeister

Misti Burmeister has been facilitating communication that results in trust and connection for nearly 20 years, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Make sure your communication is coming across the way you intend, visit