New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!


Dan Millman

Handle Stress Without Tension


Stress is an unavoidable part of life. 

It’s not about having a stress-free life- it’s about learning how to deal with it gracefully.

Think of the last stressful moment you had.

How did you react?

Did you get angry and tense up? Or were you able to breathe and move through it?

The more we work on our reaction when things go differently than we’d hoped, the happier we will be.

For this 5-Minute Friday, I revisited a conversation I had with Dan Millman where he shared his definition of stress and the practice that helps him with it.

Dan Millman is a former world champion athlete, university coach, martial arts instructor, and college professor. After an intensive, twenty-year spiritual quest, Dan’s teaching found its form as the Peaceful Warrior’s Way. He has now written seventeen books.

Learn how to move through life without tension in Episode 852.

“The only difference between fear and excitement is whether we’re breathing.” @pwdan  

Some Questions I Ask:

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Dan’s definition of stress (2:30)
  • Stress with tension vs. stress without tension (3:50)
  • How martial arts can help with stress (4:30)
  • Plus much more…

Show Notes:

Connect with
Dan Millman

Transcript of this Episode

Male Announcer: This is 5-Minute Friday.

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Lewis Howes: I am very excited about today’s guest. He is a hero of mine, someone I’ve looked up to for years. His books have inspired me as his movie inspired me that his book was based off of. And his name is Dan Millman. He’s a former world champion gymnast, Stanford University coach, Oberlin College professor, and martial arts instructor. He is the author of 16 books and published in 29 languages including his classic Way of the Peaceful Warrior, which was adapt into a film in 2006. A dance keynotes and seminars has inspired people from all walks of life, including leaders in the field of health, psychology, education, business, politics, sports, in the arts.

And big thank you to our sponsor, DesignCrowd. Now DesignCrowd has been my service that I go to for all design with the websites stuff, with book covers, were coming out with a new book, with T shirts, with logos, with graphics with social media stuff, any type of design that you need, you can get all your personal design needs at They’ve got hundreds of thousands of designers from all over the world that will create designs for you. All you have to do is fill out the form of what you’re looking for, whether it’s a logo, or website, or t shirt graphic, or whatever it may be, you submit what you’re looking for, you give the details of what it is that’s inspiring you for this, and then designers will start creating branding for you. You can give feedback on them. And then when you want to pick a winner, you choose one of them and then you just pay that.

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[background music]

Lewis Howes: When you experience any type of stress or any type of a breakdown in your life, whether it be minor or major breakdowns that occur. What is your practice for overcoming those breakdowns or those minor moments of stress? Do you have a practice or ritual that you follow a breathing technique, you know, a way of being that you that you shift into?

Dan Millman: There are techniques one can learn, but at some point, you know, and I, believe me, I’ve had him coming out of my ears. I’ve had so many I’ve learned, so many techniques over the decades for this or that, but let me just address stress. Stress is part of everyday life. If I can tell people two things about stress, I can say stress happens when the mind resists what is. In other words, what arising in life, we resist it. It creates some stress, psychological stress, maybe translated to physical stress, as well, blood pressure and so on. 

When we learn to flow with life, and kind of dance with it the way any good martial artists would do not fighting the force, but learning to use it, getting out of the way, we experience less stress, first of all. But the second thing is stress is a normal part of life. The only way to avoid stress is don’t care about anything.

Lewis Howes: Yeah.

Dan Millman: But most of us do care. So we’re engaged with life. So sometimes we get the elevator, sometimes we get the shaft as the saying goes.

Lewis Howes: Right, right.

Dan Millman: And things happen, changes, disappointments, and we feel stressed. A flat tire on the way to an important appointment or a date these things happen, but there is a big difference between stress plus tension, or stress without tension. So we can’t really control this abstract idea we defined it stress, but we can control our degree of tension. Anyone of us can right now, any listener contents their body, we have that ability tense all our muscles. And if we can tense, we can relax just the opposite. Let go, shake, take a breath. And you know what? Relaxed stress is very different critter from tense stress.

Lewis Howes: Um-hmm.

Dan Millman: So whenever a stressful element happens in our lives, we can take use that as a just kind of a signal to take a deep breath, let it out, shake loose, and see how relaxed we can be, even as we face the stress. And you know this is especially true in the stress if you’re ever attacked by multiple attackers that’s quite a stressful situation. And that is exactly when you need to learn to move and relax because most people don’t get beaten up because their techniques aren’t good enough it’s because they get too tired.

Lewis Howes: Right.

Dan Millman: And so by staying relaxed, and moving, and flowing, which this martial art that I’m studying now Systema emphasizes, it really really helps us prevailing everyday life, and everyday stresses as well.

Lewis Howes: Yeah. Or they just stopped breathing, you know, with ease, they start shortening their breath or their breath —

Dan Millman: Yeah, that’s typical, yeah.

Lewis Howes: Right.

Dan Millman: That’s typical.

Lewis Howes: You can’t breathe; it’s hard to do anything.

Dan Millman: You know the only difference between fear and excitement is whether we’re breathing.

[background music]

Lewis Howes: Hey, guys, if you enjoyed this inspirational clip from a past episode of the show, then you’ll love the free book I’m giving away right now. It’s called “The Millionaire Morning”. It includes some of my best tips for starting off your day with a millionaire mindset. Get your free copy at and just pay shipping. Again, check it out right now,

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