Worry Less, Smile More
“Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.”
~ English Proverb
Everyone has, or will, go through something that has effected them in a such a way that they can never go back to the person they once were.
*Death of a loved one
*Diagnosis of a disease
*FILL IN THE BLANK ___________________!
Just looking at the above list evokes strong emotions, either from past memories or future concerns. If we live long enough, we will experience a life altering event (or events!) and that is a certainty. John Allen Paulos said, “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” Reread that again…“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” That is a groundbreaking statement. It gives us the understanding that life isn’t perfect. It never has been, nor will it ever be. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect human beings! Free choice unleashes the possibility that others’ choices can profoundly impact our daily lives…and that is a certainty. The only thing that we can control is how we react to it.
Worry vs. Concern
We must first recognize there is a difference between healthy concern and unhealthy worry. Concern motivates us to thoughtfully consider alternative actions that can positively reshape our current circumstances. It can be beneficial to focus on a potential problem with an intent to solve it with a favorable outcome. On the other hand, worry has no benefits. It is fear-based, represents a lack of trust, harms your health and most importantly…does not solve a thing!
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom
Never be afraid to start over. You are only one decision away from a totally different life! That is exciting! What if we embrace the changes that come our way as an opportunity to create a path to the life we want and are supposed to live? What if every day is a new opportunity to do just that? That makes all the difference between a life that is controlled and stagnated by fear or a life that is transformed by living a purpose-filled destiny.
*You fall to your knees because you learn that your daughter has been abused.
*Your husband walked out and chose a different life than the one you shared together.
*The doctor told you that you may have cancer.
*The phone rang and your beloved father, your rock in life, experienced a heart attack and will not survive.
*Your receive a phone call at work that your home is in foreclosure. You had no idea that the payments had not been made and saying you are shocked…is an understatement.
You can’t breathe. Panic overtakes you and brings you to your knees. You KNOW from this moment on….everything has changed. In no way should any of the above circumstances, or the many others that occur, be minimized.. They are awful…seemingly unfair…extremely difficult…to say the very least. Although what are your choices? You have many, although that is all it really comes down to - a CHOICE! You cannot choose your circumstances, but you can always choose how you react and feel about them. Let’s say someone cuts you off on the highway. You have been cut off…period. You can huff and puff and curse the person and be cut off, or you can take a deep breath and still be cut off. Note the difference here - your circumstances didn’t change, although the negative emotions and stress hormones can be left out of your body. This only helps you! You can choose to worry and get upset, or choose another path. As always, this is easier said than done. Let’s look at pathways to a more positive outcome.
Note to self - “Everything is going to be alright!!!”
“The dark moments of our life will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us.”
-Charles Stanley , author of 30 Life Principles
There is purpose in the pain. If we glean the nuggets from painful situations that come our way and take the lesson(s) from our experience, we become stronger and more focused and redirected to the path on which we were put on this planet to take. That is exciting news! Of course, it will not be easy. Great things rarely come from our comfort zones, although the reward….a life with purpose…will be worth it! So let’s see how we can toss worry out the window.
“Old ways won’t open new doors.”
“Stop looking for happiness in the same place you lost it.”
~ Authors unknown
10 Steps to Tossing Worry to the Wayside
- Acknowledge it - Name it. Address your fears. Yes, it happened…or is happening. It is best to see the reality of the situation, but that is what it is….a SITUATION. It doesn’t define you nor control you. It is simply an event that has come across your path.
- See the purpose - There is a purpose for everything that occurs in your life. You can see the bad in it or choose to glean the good from it and take it into your new reality.
- Change your perspective - Energy flows where you focus your attention! Change your attention from the problem to the possibilities! NOW is an opportunity to choose a new direction, a new path, literally…a new life! Yes, the issue is still there. Allow it to shine a light towards a new route. You may not know what that is at the moment, although know it is meant to be and you WILL be better for having travelled through it.
- Give it up - Worry will continue to attempt to revisit and creep back into your thoughts. Let it go. Not a minute of worrying will change a thing…only new choices will bring about a new reality. My favorite action is to say, “God this is yours. I trust you with this and know you will use it for my good.” Get a phrase that works for you. Throw the useless worry into that and continually clear the fear to make room for good choices.
- Work it off - After throwing the fear to the side you may need to replace worrying with another action. What is it you enjoy doing? Jogging around a lake and taking in the beautiful scenery? Lifting weights or joining a workout class to reshape your body for your new life? Even if it means hitting the punching bag or learning self-defense….take action…and work it out!
- Hire healthier habits - Take care of yourself. You should always do this, although during difficult experiences, it should be a priority. When anxiety comes knocking…light a candle, meditate or try other relaxation techniques, eat nutritious meals that nourish your body and soul, HYDRATE and drink more water infused with your favorite berries or try new herbal teas. Say NO to activities that stress you out and say YES to exercise and activities that feed your spirit. Be creative and good to yourself!
- Live in the moment - Cookie Monster has a quote: “Today me will live in the moment…unless the moment is unpleasant…in which case, me will eat a cookie!” Maybe a piece of dark chocolate would be a better choice, but you get the idea! Listen and be present while you are at dinner with a close, trusted friend. While going for a walk, notice the flowers blowing in the breeze and appreciate their being clothed in perfection without having to worry a single minute! Listen and watch the birds of the air. They fly around and gather materials from the earth to build their homes and feed their young, all the while singing and playing a tune for the rest of us to enjoy. You will never have the opportunity to experience the exact current moment you are in ever again. Take it all in while you have the opportunity!
- Cultivate contentment - To the point above, activity and blessings abound all around us. Take the time and be grateful for all the good in your life. Are you able to take a warm shower? Be grateful. Many on this planet are not afforded clean water, much less a warm shower or bubble bath. Turn on a light or flick on the gas to a fireplace. Be grateful we have the ability to see at night and keep warm due to someone else’s discovery and ingenuity. For every one thing that is going “wrong” (and even that wording can be debated) in our lives, there are a thousand that are wonderful and they deserve our gratitude and attention.
- Seek professional help if needed - At times, our ability to deal with some circumstances are above our pay grade. Others have a gift. They are able to provide the tools we many need to “build a bridge” over rough waters to the safety of new shores. Accept that gift and soon you will be able to share what you have learned with others that also need a helping hand.
- Realize it’s not a “one and done” occurrence - We all hope we gather the awareness that we need to learn from painful experiences and that we can move on and never look back. This is simply not the reality of most circumstances that cause us to worry. A woman once shared this jewel with me. She would always say that she learned “it’s not one and done” and that you have to continue to adjust and refocus. I also now see that life will continue to throw experiences my way and they are simply a test to grow and strengthen me - like iron sharpens iron. Expect it, learn from it and keep moving forward!
Star of the Show ~ Spiritual Practice
In August of 2017, a story is excerpted from the Science of Happiness from TIME’s special edition magazine. In the article ‘Does Spirituality Make You Happy,’ Bryan Walsh states that scientists have found, time and time again, that those with a spiritual practice tend to be happier than those who do not. He goes on to state that they tend to be less depressed and less anxious when they are exercising spirituality. Basically, they are better able to handle the vicissitudes, the change of circumstances or fortune that is typically unwelcome or unpleasant, that occur in everyone’s life. There are many definitions and views about different spiritual practices that one may choose to adopt. I believe there is a creative life force, full of love and reminders of my purpose and path on this planet. There are treasures to glean from all the varied spiritual teachings from meditating to proverbs to chakras. Do your own research and implement those that are true and resonate with you! Here are links to get you started on your search from books on prayer and meditations to yogic practices and breath work.