Your Emotional Stress Test – Are you spiritually insolvent?

A stress test, that’s what President Obama and his administration recently put America’s major financial institutions to – subjecting them to a series of worst-case-scenario experiments to see just what kind of shape they were really in. …


Never mind that people like you and me probably don’t have the foggiest clue how the level of unemployment could somehow tell us whether JP Morgan is stronger than Citigroup. The idea sounded good.

What would it take, though, to make us take a similar look at our emotional health and our spiritual health? … to put ourselves to a stress test?

Would it take an existential crisis? After all, it took the worst global financial crisis in history to make us force our banks in for a financial check-up.

Here’s a little forward-looking “what if” exercise to get you thinking a little bit about some things that most folks don’t often take much time to ponder

Take the “Spiritual Stress Test”

How the Stress Test works:

Put yourself in the following scenarios, and choose the answer that most closely resembles your likely response.

Record the number of times you answered “A”, “B”, “C”, or “D”, then see the notes at the end of the stress test to determine your score and what it means.

1. You suddenly lose your job and find yourself in deep
financial trouble. You …

  1. Feel sorry for yourself and blame others for your current
    situation. You may become severely depressed or turn to drugs, alcohol
    or some other vice to help you escape from your situation.
  2. Roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to get
    yourself out of debt and “back onto your feet” again.
  3. See this as an opportunity to make a change in your life.
    You feel positive about your situation and confident that you’ll find
    an even better job.
  4. Understand that your job, your status and your external
    wealth do not define who YOU really are. You see this as a good
    opportunity to re-examine yourself, your views, and your entire
    approach to life, and have a very positive outlook for the future.

2. You find out that a long-time friend of yours has been
stealing from you. You …

  1. Become furious, report them to the police, and renounce
    your friendship forever!
  2. Avoid dealing with the problem, and avoid your friend from
    now on.
  3. Confront your friend about it and give them an opportunity
    to apologize and to pay back what they have stolen from you. If they
    don’t, then you will be forced to end your friendship.
  4. Show compassion and restraint, and try to understand why
    your friend has stolen from you. You let them know that you want to
    remain friends, and are also willing to forgive them and to help them
    to overcome whatever troubles have led them to steal from you.

3. A relief organization approaches you for a donation to a
good cause, but you are already struggling to “make financial ends
meet” in your own life. You …

  1. Say “No way man, I got my own problems to deal with.”
  2. Dig around for some loose change and give them a couple
    bucks just to get rid of them.
  3. Say, “I’m truly sorry, I wish I could help, but I really
    can’t afford to give anything right now.”
  4. Dig deep and give as much as you can, or say “I don’t have
    much money to give, but is there anything else I can do to help?”

4. You heard on the news that a favourite product that you
have been using for years is made by a company that has a record of
human rights abuses in other countries. You …

  1. Don’t even give it a second thought.
  2. Criticize the company for their human rights record, but
    continue to use their product sometimes.
  3. Criticize the company for their human rights record, and
    immediately stop using their product.
  4. Stop using their product and make an effort to understand
    more about the company, the details about their questionable business
    activities, and what all the “real facts” are about their human rights
    allegations, before passing judgement on them.

5. Someone close to you suddenly dies. You …

  1. Are consumed with grief, anger, and heartache. You are
    unable to work or carry out most of your daily activities, and are
    rarely able to find any relief from your pain for many months, or even
    years afterwards.
  2. Are initially shocked, go through a “grieving period,” and
    then slowly come to terms with what has happened. However, it always
    remains a difficult subject for you to talk about, and you feel a
    permanent “sense of loss” for a long, long time.
  3. Feel great sadness, but in time you come to accept what has
    happened and are able to talk with fondness and joy about the one whom
    has passed.
  4. Understand that it is natural to feel a sense of loss when
    this happens, but you also understand that death is an inevitable part
    of life, a stage that we all must eventually pass through – that in
    truth, death is not an unfortunate or a bad thing. You know that any
    pain we feel when we lose a loved one is only an expression of our own
    attachment to them, as well as our own inability to fully realize the
    infinite, indestructible nature of mankind.

6. You consider alcohol and/or drugs to be …

  1. Necessary aspects of life.
  2. Ok in moderation.
  3. A personal choice.
  4. Poison to the body, mind and spirit, and an unacceptable
    indulgence for one who is serious about their physical, mental and
    spiritual health.

7. Over the years, your life has become so busy with work and
other obligations that you have let your health deteriorate and now
find that you have developed a dangerous heart condition. You …

  1. Accept your lot in life and carry on with the attitude that
    whatever happens to you is your fate.
  2. Visit your doctor to get medication or medical intervention
    to remedy the condition.
  3. Seek advice on exercise, diet and other measures to help
    you re-gain your health, and then make changes as best as you can.
  4. Take this opportunity to “step back” and re-evaluate your
    approach to life. You realize that you may have to make significant
    changes in your lifestyle and your overall attitude toward life, and
    are willing and committed to do it.

8. You think that sex …

  1. Is okay anytime, anywhere, with anyone.
  2. Is okay as long as both people are consenting adults.
  3. Should be avoided completely in order to live a “spiritual
  4. Should be enjoyed only in a loving marriage.

9. You …

  1. Enjoy life as much as possible, without thinking much about
    the consequences of your actions.
  2. Sometimes find yourself conflicted in life, but you are
    unable to understand why or what to do about it.
  3. Are aware that some choices you made in the past were not
    always good for you or in the best interests of others, but you
    continue to make unhealthy decisions over and over again.
  4. Are aware that some choices you have made in the past were
    not good for you or in the best interests of others, but you learned
    from your mistakes and continually strive to make more intelligent

10. Making environmentally conscious choices, such as buying
organic produce or carpooling to work is …

  1. Something you do not care about at all.
  2. Something to consider, but really not a high priority in
    your life.
  3. Essential, 100% of the time, without exceptions.
  4. Important to you. You do your best in every situation to be
    environmentally conscious, but realize that things are not always “cut
    and dry,” and every situation in life has multiple dimensions that need
    to be carefully considered in order to discern the best course of
— End of Stress Test —

Your Stress Test Score

Give yourself the following points for each time you chose the answer:

  1. … 0 points
  2. … 1 point
  3. … 2 points
  4. … 3 points

Add up your total stress test points.


0-5    You are spiritually insolvent!  There may be a way out of this dreadful condition you’re in, but as the saying goes, “it will probably take a miracle!”

6-10    Looks like you found this stress test just in time. You are on the brink of spiritual ruin, but all hope is not lost. It may take a severe loss or great tragedy in your life to wake you up and push you onto the road to spiritual recovery.

11-15    You have several “spiritual red-flags” that demand attention.  If you don’t make some changes in your life and your attitudes, your karma will eventually catch up with you!

16-20    You are still swimming on the surface of life.  More effort is needed to penetrate life’s deeper dimensions and to start living with greater awareness and consciousness.

21-25    You have achieved a level of awareness that surpasses that of the majority today.  Remember, though, that the higher one climbs, the greater the risk if one falls.  Much work remains on the spiritual path, and you would do well not to meander too much.

26-30    You are perched on the threshold of enlightenment. Congratulations!

About the Author:

Yogacharya is the director of International Yogalayam, and Editor of The Yoga News

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