The old song says, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” But how can you do that when you’ve got a mountain of bills, your rent is being raised, your pay is being cut, you’ve just discovered a large oily spot under your car, or your kids are growing out of their clothes faster than the seasons change? Maybe your worries are less clear cut. You’re afraid your husband will be injured at his dangerous job, or your daughter is bound to have an accident driving 50 miles/day in heavy traffic. What if someone you love acquires a devastating illness? What if they are already battling one? What in the world should you do if you shouldnt worry? Not to would be pure lunacy!
Worry is the most nonproductive emotion that human beings possess. It rarely serves any purpose except to momentarily push someone into needed action. This is how you determine if worrying will do any good. If a situation upsets you and there is something you can do about it, worry can often be the motivation to get started and switch into high gear. The problem is that eight times out of ten, worry is of the completely fruitless type. It is the result of feeling trapped in an uncontrollable situation that is causing, or threatening to cause, some sort of pain,shame,or difficulty.
Sometimes we spend our time mapping out plans for weeks to come, and then squander more time worrying whether things will go as planned. We agonize about the past, which is long over with, and project into the future with as much dread. We can’t keep our minds focused, can’t concentrate on our families and life, and walk around feeling confused because our minds are engaged in useless apprehension. We feel stupid when things we were sick over end up never occurring anyway, and still we fail to see the worthlessness of worry.
There is a wonderful little prayer many people use to help themselves decide if a problem is worth the anguish of worrying over, or whether the issues should be handed over, to God perhaps, so that time could be better spent on difficulties that could be resolved with action. It is called The Serenity Prayer, and it says:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
In other words, if you can’t really do something about a situation, let it go, for to worry is to waste your time. If action can be taken, then get to it.
The last part of the prayer is the portion most folks get stuck on when dealing with a dillemma. How do you tell the difference between a situation you can change and one you can not? Actually it should be a simple thing to determine, but human beings have a tendency to resist surrendering. Most people have a problem with acceptance, and insist on wrestling with with plainly unsolvable situations. We often lose sight of the fact that although things sometimes don’t turn out as planned, they work out for the ultimate good in the end.
The first thing to do when faced with a problem is to sit down and examine it in a calm and rational manner, asking yourself,”Is there anything at all I can do about this?” If there is not, then you must let go of the problem, somehow placing it in a higher power’s hands. Worry in itself will never change anything. It only serves to make you frazzled and less prepared should the worst occur. When you feel anxiety creeping in on your peace of mind, chase it away by thinking of the blessings in your life. We all have many. Situations can only be helped by taking action, and often there is no action to take at the moment. The concept is simple then…do the best you can do, then let it go, because that’s all that you can do. Don’t insult God by taking things back into your own helpless hands over and over.
Chronic worrying has health drawbacks as well. It makes you physically ill, saps your energy and leaves you unready to deal with what life presents to you. Agonizing over things not in your control only hurts yourself. If you ocupy your time wisely you will have no time to worry.
It is difficult to learn to let go if you are not accustomed to it, but it certainly pays off well in peace of mind, happiness, and restful sleep.