The Myth of Stress

Where Stress Really Comes From and How to Live a H

About The Book

Where does stress come from? Financial pressures? Looming deadlines? Conflicts at work or at home? For more than half a century, we’ve been told that stress comes from circumstances like these, that it’s a by-product of our ancestors’ fight-or-flight response to danger, and that the best we can do, given the fast pace of life today, is to breathe, try to relax, and accept that life is hard.

All of this, according to Andrew Bernstein, is wrong. Spurred by the death of several family members when he was young, Bernstein began a quest to understand the real dynamics of stress and resilience. He eventually realized that stress doesn’t come from your circumstances—it comes from your thoughts about your circumstances. More specifically, stress is created by a particular kind of thought that humans happen to excel at.

Seeing this, Bernstein realized that the antidote to stress—and the key to far greater resilience—is not exercise or physical relaxation, but finding these stress-producing thoughts and finally dismantling them. He created a process called ActivInsight that helps you—and the people you care about—do this on your own in just seven steps, often yielding life-changing breakthroughs in a matter of minutes.

Bernstein has been teaching ActivInsight to great acclaim in schools, not-for-profits, and Fortune 500 companies since 2004. Now he shares this technique for the first time with a wider audience. In The Myth of Stress, you will experience the surprising power of this new approach for yourself as you apply ActivInsight to a wide variety of today’s most common challenges, including:

weight loss • money • success interpersonal conflict • addiction • traffic divorce • heartbreak • discrimination • anger uncertainty about the future • loss of a loved one and more


With compassion, intelligence, and humor, The Myth of Stress offers a complete reeducation in the nature of stress, permanently changing the way you relate to challenges—at school, at work, and at home—in order to live a happier and healthier life.

About The Author

Photograph © Laura Rose

Andrew Bernstein is the founder of ActivInsight, a process that is rapidly changing the way individuals and organizations around the world understand stress and resilience. His clients include Johnson & Johnson, MTV Networks, WPP, Merrill Lynch, Coca-Cola, Genentech, Goldman Sachs, 20th Century Fox, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Wachovia, as well as nonprofits like Phoenix House and City Year. Bernstein teaches in the Executive Education division at the Wharton School. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University, and lives in New York City. More information is available at www.mythofstress.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (May 4, 2010)
  • Length: 304 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781439171769

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

"Bernstein's volume is an outstanding guide to understanding the nature of stress and how to handle it. The book provides numerous insights and techniques for anyone experiencing stress -- and who doesn't?"
-- Aaron T. Beck, M.D., founder of Cognitive Therapy

"The Myth of Stress is a compelling, compassionate book about our suffering when we fight reality and the transformation that is possible when we don't. I loved it."
--Geneen Roth, author of When Food Is Love and Women, Food, and God

"Andrew Bernstein has brought some much needed common sense to the subject of stress and that alone makes this book a winner."
-- Caroline Myss, author of Defy Gravity and Invisible Acts of Power

"We often think we have to avoid or reduce stress. The Myth of Stress teaches you not to “manage stress” but to root out the very causes of stress, the tangled thinking that keeps you stuck in the belief the world has to change for you to be happy. Andrew Bernstein guides us through a way to untangle those thoughts and be free. Read this book and it will change your life and you will find your happiness will depend on only one thing – YOU."
--Mark Hyman, MD, New York Times best-selling author of The UltraMind Solution

"Bernstein has created a wonderful, accessible how-to manual for regular people wanting to feel better. This WORKS!"
--Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D., author of Potatoes Not Prozac

"Hans Selye's theory of stress as a fight-or-flight response is wrong and overrated, according to Bernstein, originator of ActivInsight, a cognitive method for identifying, understanding, and transforming stress. Bernstein asserts that stress originates in thoughts and beliefs, but he concedes that it has long-term physical and mental effects. Using the worksheet process adapted from his mentor Bryon Katie, Bernstein formulated ActivInsight, a seven-step stress-reduction program he has taught in seminars to corporations and nonprofit organizations. While acknowledging similarities to positive thinking, Bernstein envisions ActivInsight as working not just by replacing stressful ideas, but by subtracting the underlying negative beliefs. In the book's second half, Bernstein guides readers in applying ActivInsight to 12 common challenges ranging from anger, heartbreak, and money problems to fear of dying. By the end, readers should be able to apply ActivInsight to their own problems, though Bernstein admits that some issues may need more than a single work-sheet session. An online self-help platform with downloadable work sheets, tutorials, and email connections will be launched upon publication. VERDICT An easy-to-learn method for addressing issues underlying stress, best suited for the workbook crowd and believers in cognitive-behavioral therapy." --Library Journal

"Look out Anthony Robbins, move over Deepak Chopra, there’s a quiet storm moving up through this state and beyond. His name is Andrew Bernstein... He’s an intelligent, calm, and soft-spoken person who uses reason and logic to quiet the mind." --Vision Magazine

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images