If I’ve pulled one valuable lesson from meditation, introspection, and light dabbling in eastern religions, it’s that worrying is probably the most wasteful action we, as humans, succumb to. It’s so easy, from the outside, to dissect another person’s problem and tell them not to worry about something. But when faced with a problem of our own, this advice somehow gets drowned in a sea of worry, and we cannot face the situation with effectiveness.
There are two types of situations in life; situations that we can control, and situations that are beyond our control. Think of the last time you were worried, and return to the cause of that worry. Perhaps you worried about turning in an assignment (at work, or school) by a certain deadline. The deadline was probably set in stone, a deadline which you had no control over. And everything regarding the project should be within your control. It is paramount to take responsibility for your actions, and do everything in your power to produce a solid product within the alloted amount of time. Any brainpower, effort, or time devoted to worrying is less brainpower, effort, and time that can be devoted towards the task at hand. Don’t worry about a paper you need to work on; just work on the paper. Worrying nets you absolutely nothing, and is counterproductive to reaching your goal.
Some situations are way outside the realm of control. Have you worried about a driver crashing into you? You can focus your efforts on driving defensively and maintaining awareness, but any worry you put into getting hit will ultimately have a derogatory effect on driving. Worried you might get cancer? You can take preventative measures through diet, exercise, and minimizing exposures to carcinogens, but in the end, worrying about the prospect does nothing for you. In fact, the stress induced by worrying can have a negative effect on your body. Totally counterproductive.
When flying from Sydney to JFK, I encountered the worst turbulence of my life. It wasn’t a small bump, but more like a roller coaster. First-class cocktails were soiling the suits of businessmen, and the bottled water was spilling on the rest of the plebs and me in coach. Infants and grandmothers were screaming. I was having fun with it at first, rationalizing the safety of air travel versus driving. And then, after it continued for upwards of a minute, I asked myself “At what point should I stop smiling and embracing the ride, and start to worry if this situation is serious?” It was then that the epiphany struck me. Needless to say, the plane made it through; I’m alive and well. But even in the event of a crash, at no point in the descent would it have made sense to worry. The situation was totally out of my control, and rested in the hands of the pilots. I can either wash my hands clean of the situation, aid in the situation (had I something of value like piloting skills to contribute), or worried about it.
If you extract yourself from a situation, look at it logically and unemotionally, it should become clear that you can either positively affect it through conscious action, or just go with the flow because there is nothing you can do about it.
Comment with something you’ve worried about, and then realized that it really wasn’t worth worrying about.
I’ll leave you with some insight from the wise men of our times.
Eckhart Tolle: “Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.”
Axl Rose: “I don’t worry ’bout nothin’, no, because worryin’s a waste of my time.” [Mr. Brownstone]