Whether it’s worrying about the weather, relationships woes, or how your goals are going to come into fruition, the time spent on worrying can add up to unnecessary time wasted. However, while most people recognize this truth, such knowledge doesn’t necessarily make it easier to stop worrying.
While it can be productive in certain situations to attempt to see around the corner so that potential problems can be averted, so much of what people worry about isn’t something that actually improves the quality of our lives. And I believe at the heart of worry, at least for me, is having the desire to fix something so that I can move past it and thus, move forward.
If indeed we worry so that we can help the situation and get past it, then I think we would all serve ourselves better by keeping in mind the Dalai Lama’s quote above. In essence, it’s a lot like basic math – double negatives canceling each other out. The good news is that if it is indeed fixable, we shouldn’t waste time worrying, but instead begin to take action. And if it isn’t something we can fix, there is no need to worry about something we have no control over, and instead we need to help ourselves out by learning to let go.
With that said, I’d like to share ten things I have learned which don’t improve the quality of the lives we wish to lead. While some are easier to accept and let go of, others, I will admit, are not. But if there is nothing more important to realize, it is that the mind is a powerful mechanism that can either lift us up and help us strive forward or weigh us down and hinder our progress. By feeding our minds with positive fuel, we not only are able to worry less, we are able to live a more contented life.
Stop worrying about . . .
1. Others’ opinion about your life, signature style, dreams, etc. Everyone has different values and different perspectives based on their own experience about what a fulfilling and happy life looks like. While they may be genuinely happy living how they want to live, it doesn’t mean that you will be as well or should feel badly if you don’t follow their path. Let go of worrying about what others think of the path you have chosen, and instead focus your energy on listening to what piques your interest, your heart and your mind. Follow those inklings, ask questions from those who have followed a similar path and weight their advice along with what you discover to be the best direction for your life.
2. Trying to be like everyone else. As much as our culture appears to cultivate originality and independence, it also subconsciously leads us to be curious about what everyone else is doing via our uber-connected world. As much as people try to make their own way, they often stay within the parameters of what is acceptable by their peer group. So today, ask yourself, if what you are doing is because you are passionate about it or because you are too afraid to do what you would prefer?
3. Trying to do something simply to stand out and gain attention. On the flip side of #2, our culture also tends to be one that applauds ridiculousness, shock and awe tactics and baseless behavior. In other words, as long as it gains eyeballs, a good laugh and a few more ‘likes’, the urge is to go forward with the behavior. Whether or not it is relevant or in line with our values often times is tossed aside as secondary. While there will always be people who stand out, make sure you are standing out due to something you believe in and would be proud to have on your resume when you look back upon it years from now.
4. Anything that is beyond your control.
5. Anything you don’t want to happen. The power of our mind is an amazing gift, but it can also be a curse if we use it incorrectly. Instead of worrying about what you don’t want to happen, use that energy to focus on what you want to create. Use that energy to create beautiful, amazing moments for yourself and those you love. Use that energy to dive into projects that propel your dreams, leaving no time to worry about what you don’t want to take place.
6. Unnecessary social media time zappers. For example: checking status updates of people who aren’t actual, genuine friends, or wondering how many ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ you have. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest can easily waste time that could be better used strengthening friendships in real time, practicing a new craft that we want to master or actually learning how to take pictures instead of simply repinning them. Live your life. Don’t be a spectator of others’ lives.
7. How other people live or how much money they make. Keeping up with the Jones or Buchanans or Ngyugens or whatever family lives down the street from you is something you should not spend another minute thinking about. How someone is able to live the life they appear to be loving is none of your business. Be happy for them and then go about living the life of your dreams according to your desires, passions, and purpose instead of what society dedicates you should adhere to.
8. What others may (or may not) be saying about you when you’re not around. When we welcome people into our lives or work with people on a daily basis, we tend to interpret their looks, questions or comments in certain ways based on what has happened in past similar situations. More likely than not, when those people leave our company, they probably aren’t thinking about us at all, and if they are and it’s not kind, they aren’t people you should worry about because they don’t deserve to be in your life.
9. The number on the clothing label. Now worrying about the number and worrying about your health are separate issues. We should all be cognizant of living a healthy life, but worrying about the number on the dress or pair of jeans is not something to worry about. Since various brands involve themselves in vanity sizing and each brand has their own measurements for certain sizes, a 10 from one designer may be an 8 in another. In other words, live in such a way that you know you are living healthy, and then dress your body to flatter your best assets regardless of the number on the label.
10. Your life plan going exactly as you had mapped out when you were younger. Setting life goals is a very good idea (and a must if you want to arrive where you want to go), but hanging on to a life map that doesn’t align with what you’ve discovered to be the best path to live up to your full potential is akin to hanging on to a tradition that is no longer celebrating something worthy of being celebrated. Always have goals, but then adjust them as you get to know yourself and the opportunities that are afforded to you. And most importantly, have confidence that you will reach the target. It just may not look like what you had expected. In fact, it most likely will exceed the limited perspective you had when you were younger.