Do we have a choice? I sure think we do. It became a lot easier for me when I began to define worry as—guaranteed misery today for something that may or may not happen in the future.
In fact, I have heard statements like 90% of the things you worry about never actually happen and the 10% that actually comes true turn out to be good for you. Last week, in her online workshop, Janice Marturano shared a great quote from Mark Twain that was just perfect.
I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.
— Mark Twain
So, why do we worry? Can we do anything about it?
It’s just our ruminating mind generating thoughts and to give it something to think about. If we cling on to all of them, we are doomed. Our conditioning also plays a significant part in this scenario. If we have been raised with fear as a motivator, it becomes fairly common to consider more fearful options.
I keep getting asked this question often, “What’s wrong with using fear to motivate someone?” Unfortunately, most of the time I hear this, it’s usually in the context of their children.
While many people have achieved many great things with fear being their motivator, I somehow feel that it is the wrong energy. If you use bad fuel in your car, it will run, but the chances of it running into problems over time is also high. In the case of us human beings, I feel that by running on the wrong fuel, we start to pollute our insides.
In fact, just last evening, I took a practice test for an exam and was getting anxious that I missed several questions. My immediate reaction was to project what would happen if I failed the test, and my mind started to stack up all the negative consequences of the failure. I soon noticed what was going on and gently chose to redirect my attention to what was needed to pass the test. Upon counting the number of questions that I answered correctly, I soon realized calmly that I only needed to get three more questions right to pass the test. This was a huge realization since my fifteen year old son had also asked me the same question on our way to his basketball practice an hour before, “What’s wrong with being motivated by fear?” So, on our way back home, I was able to share my experience with my test and the conversation in my head with him and he was able to see how our mind can take the same reality and use it in different ways.
We worry about many things—our health, our job, our kids, our money among other things. What’s it all about? Worry is always about the future; never about the present. So, if our goal is to stay present and we actually manage to do so, the chances that we will ever worry is greatly reduced. But, as we all know, it is very difficult to always stay in the present, given our powerful thought generating mind. Viewing thoughts as mere thoughts and not getting attached to them seems to be the secret of many enlightened souls. Believing every thought that is generated in our mind and clinging on to them can be very exhausting. In my humble opinion, not being in a state of ease is probably also one of the major causes for modern day diseases (dis-ease).
I came across a wonderful definition of health this morning written by the World Health Organization in 1946, which I would like to share with you.
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
It is unfortunate that even in 2014, almost 70 years since this gem of a statement was drafted, we are still grappling with attaining a decent state of well-being for our people. I urge each one of us to make a more determined attempt to improve our own personal state of well-being in the coming months and years.
My dear departed dad would point to the book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie and say, “If someone offered you a slab of gold or this book, please always take this.”