We said yesterday that “worry is interest paid in advance on something you may never own.” Think about it. Near the end of his life, Mark Twain said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Always remember that the outcome of a situation will still be the same whether you worried about it or not!
Worry wastes a lot of emotional energy. Have you analyzed how few of the things we worry about actually happen? One survey says 40% of the things we worry about never happen; another 30% of our worries are in the past, and we can't do anything about them. 12% concern other people, and are really none of our business anyway. 10% are about sickness which we can do very little to control. Only 8% of the things we worry about are worth worrying about! In my opinion, even the 8% can be challenged.
What then is the antidote to worry? While I will not say I am an expert here (I still worry sometimes), let me share with you some thoughts that have helped me and some others I have read from.
1. Use your mind. Be rational
It's important to develop coping strategies for worry - learning to think more realistically. Most anxiety is a distortion in the way we think. We would solve a lot of worry problems if we think more logically and creatively.
Astronaut Jim Lovell was in command of the Apollo 13 spacecraft when it experienced an explosion on its way to the moon. Their oxygen was almost gone; their electrical system was out, and their spaceship was plunging toward lunar orbit. They were destined to be lost in space, thousands of miles from home. During a press conference after their safe return, Lovell was asked; 'Were you worried?' and he gave an answer that surprised almost everyone in the room. 'No, not really.' He continued, 'Worry is a useless emotion. I was too busy fixing the problem to worry about it.' Use your mind!
Another idea is to limit the amount of time we allow ourselves to worry. I read about a guy who had so many things to worry about, he set aside one day each week in which to worry. As worries came to him, he wrote them down and put them in his worry box. Then, on Worry Wednesday he pulled out each worry and read it - and discovered that most of the things he was disturbed about had already settled themselves or had been taken care of in some other way.
2. Live one day at a time
My advice is that you live in day-tight compartment. Take life as it comes. People living through a tremendous crisis soon learn that they have only enough energy to face today. 'One day at a time' becomes their motto. Do unpleasant tasks now. Get them out of the way. Forgive other people quickly. Have some 'time out' for stillness and quietness each day. And live the serenity prayer: “God give me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Forget yesterday. Plan for tomorrow. Live today. “Yesterday is a cancelled cheque. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is cash!” Spend it well. Don’t let worries about tomorrow deny you the pleasures of today. Like my good friend said “ Some prepare so much for tomorrow’s rain that they forget to enjoy today’s sunshine.” Live one day at a time!
3. Work Hard and Plan
One of the best cures for worry is work. Worry kills lots of people; work of itself doesn't kill anyone. Most worriers are lazy people. Consider the story about three servants who were given trust over their master's investments. The third servant, who hid his master's investment in the ground because of all his worries, was judged not only a "wicked," but also a "lazy" servant.
Planning for the future is fine. Most people worry because of lack of proper planning. A lady who is getting ready for marriage but has not planned well is set to be worry laden all through the week of her wedding. A man who has plans for his retirement will worry less than one who doesn’t. Proper planning delivers you from worry!
4. Develop a attitude of gratitude
Can I tell you a story? I call it the story of two buckets.
A traditional well always have two buckets. As one is going down, the other is on its way up. Long time ago, there lived two buckets in the same well. It was noticed that no matter what happens, one was always sad, whining and looking morose and melancholic. It was always complaining about the situation of things all around. The other however, on the contrary, was always happy and motivated. No matter what happens, it was always in a high mood. Both buckets used to wonder what was happening to the other when they meet somewhere along the line in the well. The sad bucket was always wondering “why is this guy always happy? Are we not going through the same situation? Are we not faced with the same difficulties? The happy bucket on the other hand was always wondering aloud “what the hell is wrong with this guy? Why is he always looking morose and melancholic? One day, they decided to talk to each other and ask why they are both going through similar situations but reacting differently. The happy bucket asked first “why is it that you are always looking sad and morose all the time? Is anything the matter? The sad bucket replied. “Everything is that matter! I am not happy here. Can you imagine, no matter how full I come up from this well, I always go down empty!! I am living an empty life!” “Waoh” replied the happy bucket. “Do you know what? This is the very same reason why I am always happy. No matter how empty I go down into this well, I always come up full!!!! I am living a fulfilling life!
An attitude of gratitude will deliver you from worry. Be grateful for what you have and you will soon get what you want. Count your blessings, name them one by one. During your times of trouble, dwell on good things. Think about God's blessings - his provision and care. Next time you have a physical problem, think about the thousands of bits of your body that are working brilliantly!
5. Cast your cares upon God
One man took a paper bag, wrote 'God' on it, and taped it high on the back of his kitchen door. Whenever he prayed about the things he was worried about, like his job or his family, he would write them down on a piece of paper, and put it in the bag. Then he made a rule for himself. If he started worrying about a matter that he'd turned over to God, he had to climb up on a chair and fish that paper out of the bag. He said it was pretty revealing just how much time he spent sifting through those scraps of paper. You see, we can trust God to be there, to care for us, to provide for us. That's the good news, so why worry?
So let's pray about our worries. As someone said, 'If our worries aren't worth praying about, they aren't worth worrying about.' I read about a theological college student who had a sign on his wall: 'Why pray when you can worry?' Hmmm.
Do you remember the Bobby McFerrin song "Don't Worry, Be Happy"? When it hit the top of the charts, it was criticized as being too simplistic and naïve. However, it has some very important sentiments! Don’t Worry. Be Happy!
See you at the top of the topmost top!