Zen is not my middle name. I apply obligation and pressure the way other people apply sunscreen—until it seeps through my pores. Then, my stress alarms start swirling like the red light on a police car: You’re late. The fridge is empty. The deadline was yesterday. Even on Sunday, when I lie, sarcophagus-like, under a pile of restful newspapers, at the back of my noggin I see the glow of the red light. My brain just won’t shut off to give me a blinking break from feeling like the cartoon character with her finger in an electrical socket, frazzled up to my fractured eyeballs. For once, I’d like to know just what all the stress is about. Why do our bodies churn like angry turbines? Is stress just some antiquated throwback we don’t need? Is its internal commotion helping or hurting us? Is it something we have no control over— or can we harness it, parceling it out only when we need its motivating force? I’m on a mission to answer these questions.