Don’t Worry; Be Happy

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MariaD

Authored by Mara Hodler

There are some things I’m good at: I can clean, organize, delegate, and plan like a boss. I can cook well enough to get paid to do it, and I can write pretty well. But I have one skill that I haven’t yet figured out how to market, and when I do, I’m fairly certain it will make me rich. I can worry with such skill and creativity that I’m convinced it’s worth something!

Do you know anyone who is interested in adding a professional “worrier” to their team? I can imagine all the possible worst-case scenarios and outcomes for companies and individuals. I can worry about things that are actually possibilities, and also about things that are so far-fetched they haven’t even made movies about them yet. I would love to put this skill to work, because at the moment it’s really more of a liability—something that robs me of peace and tranquility and wastes a lot of time and energy.

God’s Word says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”1 Another passage says, “Do not be anxious for anything.”2 These instructions really conflict with my worrying. So how can I comfortably worry about things when the Bible tells me so clearly not to worry? It’s stressful.

If I’m really honest, there are times—lots of times—when my worrying steals all the joy out of my life. I have cried for tragedies that never happened. I have raged for difficulties that never materialized. I have stressed over problems that never came to pass. I’m sure I will be able to say with Mark Twain, “I’m an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”—Except for the old man part.

I’m not sharing all this with you with the sole intention of convincing you that I’m loopy. I’m actually telling you this so that you can learn from my foolishness. Heck, I’m learning from my foolishness! Sometimes I feel foolish when after a sleepless night spent crying, worrying, and stressing, I wake up in the morning to a tragedy-free life!

The good news is that I’ve been through this cycle enough times that I’m starting to realize the futility and uselessness of it. I can’t say that I’ve come close to breaking the habit, but I’m starting to think that maybe I should … stop.

But the fact is that it’s really hard not to worry. Life is pretty messy and unpredictable. Wouldn’t you agree? With all of life’s looming woes, how can anyone not worry?

There’s this little poem I once read (actually I read it so many times that I have memorized it):

I have nothing to do with tomorrow
My Savior will make that His care
Should it [be filled] with trouble and sorrow,
He’ll help me to suffer and bear.
I have nothing to do with tomorrow
Its burden then why should I share?
Its grace and its strength I can’t borrow,
So why should I borrow its care?3

Isn’t that great advice? My worrying, your worrying—does nothing for our futures. I’ve never worried my way out of a problem. All I’ve done was sap my strength for the present. I’m guessing that that’s all you’ve managed to do with your worrying as well.

I can’t tell you that I’ve harnessed any amazing meditation techniques that have eliminated my worrying. I don’t know that there’s any one thing that takes away the urge to worry and stress about things. But here are a few things I picked up from Dale Carnegie4 that are helping me:

1. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen and make peace with it.

Now that might seem a little scary to do, but it’s one of the best ways to let go of worry. In the words of Dale, “Once you accept the worst that can happen, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s the beginning of freedom.” This technique has helped me more than anything.

2. Keep busy. I worry the most at night. Sometimes getting up and doing something makes things easier than just lying there. It’s easier to deal with worry during the day, as I keep pretty busy.

3. Set about doing the things that actually can be done to improve the situation.

Sometimes there is something that I can do, like make a phone call, send an email, or just commit it to prayer. Another thing that helps is writing down the things I need to remember or take care of.

These three tips are at the heart of letting go of worrying, at least for me. When I apply these steps I am amazingly able to let go of my worries, or at least keep them at bay.

My worries might be different from your worries. As a young person, you might worry about issues at school, career choices, frustrations with friends, or romantic issues. Those were my worries as a young person. But regardless of the issues, worrying is just as much your loss as it is mine. It’s something I want out of my life, and something you probably want out of your life, too. Why should we worry and stress when we can actually be happy?

No matter how bad or difficult things get, there is always something to be grateful for and something that makes life worth living. I firmly believe that is a truth that will never change.

If you can eliminate the habit of worrying while you are a young person, you will save so much time and energy. And that’s time and energy that you can use toward building or working at the things that really matter.

And in the words of Bobby McFerrin: Don’t worry; be happy.5


Footnotes
1 Matthew 6:34 NIV
2 Philippians 4:6 NIV
3 Tomorrow, by Major D. W. Whittle
4 Dale Carnegie
5 Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International


Article originally appeared on Just1Thing (https://just1thing.com/).
Published: July 8, 2016
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