CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If you're asked whether you have a short or a long fuse, your answer may depend upon how stressed you are at the time.
We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this hit home a couple of weeks ago when I saw a demonstration by Bob Rubenstein, a counseling professor at the Marshall University Graduate College.
Dr. Rubenstein handed out pieces of string that were about 10 inches long. Then he proceeded to demonstrate how these normally long "fuses" can become shorter and shorter as a result of life's stressors. After illustrating the cumulative effects of such stressors piled on top of each other, the strings shrank into very short fuses.
I held on to my string as a vivid reminder of what can happen to our fuses. The more "bandwidth" we have at any given time, the better we're able to handle whatever life throws at us. But if we're just hanging on by a thread, the least little thing could set us off.
How's your bandwidth right now? To get a gauge, check out the following quiz compiled by the Academic Resource Center at Sweet Briar College:
How stressed are you?
Using the following points scale, rate yourself as to how you typically react in each of the situations listed below. There are no right or wrong answers.
4 = Always
3 = Frequently
2 = Sometimes
1 = Never
__ Do you try to do as much as possible in the least amount of time?
__ Do you become impatient with delays or interruptions?
__ Do you always have to win at games to enjoy yourself?
__ Do you find yourself speeding up the car to beat the red light?
__ Are you unlikely to ask for help with a problem?
__ Do you constantly seek the respect and admiration of others?
__ Are you overly critical of the way others do their work?
__ Do you have a habit of looking at your watch often?
__ Do you constantly strive to better your position and achievements?
__ Do you spread yourself "too thin" in terms of your time?
__ Do you have the habit of doing more than one thing at a time?
__ Do you frequently get angry or irritable?