Here's a re-post of a Thanksgiving essay from Habits, Patterns, and Thoughts That Go Bump in the Night.
“Yeah, riiiight…” “If you’re not worrying, you don’t understand the situation…”
Okay, we’ve all been there – had some irritatingly cheerful soul spout some nonsense about “don’t worry…think positive” or some such grating platitude, when we’re tangled with a situation that scares us. What’s wrong with the goody-goody unicorn rainbow person that he/she doesn’t get it! I’ve got to worry about it, because if I don’t…”
Stop it right there. “I’ve GOT to worry about it, because if I don’t…” Then what? What WILL happen should you STOP worrying about something?
- Is a loved one suddenly going to wreck their life because you stopped worrying?
- Is some situation going to crater or explode because you stopped worrying?
- Is someone going to think less of you if you stop your worry and suffering on account of someone else?
Well, maybe the latter, but that’s a relationship needing a re-set.
What IS worry, anyway? Worry is creating something you do not want. Worry is the action of focusing your thinking on something that you fear and do not want. Now, how on earth does that thinking improve anything? It can’t. It only increases your awareness of what else is “wrong” or “un-desired.” It’s very easy to worry about a mole hill - then find yourself with a mountain of grief.
The mental action we call “worry” is an energy launched at something that scares us. “Oh, gosh, I sure hope Fred doesn’t eat too many sweets for Thanksgiving, it’s bad for his health.” “The weather is terrible, I’m afraid Jane will have a wreck!” Of course the mental activity can be more nebulous and manifest as a chronic dis-ease regarding certain people or situations. I’ve even heard of physical manifestations – warts – in particular. (Yes, worry-warts...)
Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something!
Calvin Coolidge got it right. “If you see ten troubles coming down the road,” he said, “you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you and you have to battle with only one of them.” With an outlook like that, it’s easy to understand why Silent Cal was seldom anxious. Unfortunately, many people see the ten troubles and leap into action ten different ways.
Worry has been described as the interest paid on trouble before it falls due or actually arrives. Many people go through the day paying a very high interest rate on their perceived troubles.
Worry is a part of the natural response to fear. Worry is a mental activity that attempts to satisfy an instinct to do something.
You probably know someone who has said, “I’m worried sick about that.” But what did they mean?
· “I’m worried...” Translation: I’m scared.
· “...sick...” Translation: My stomach is in knots, I can’t sleep, eat, feel nervous all of the time, I can’t concentrate on anything.
· “...about that...” Translation: There isn’t a thing that I can
do about it, the situation is totally beyond my control.
What is the perception in that statement? How is the person reacting mentally and emotionally to “I’m worried sick about that?” The dread and fear are reinforced. Not only are ten troubles about to wreck my life, but they’ve got fifteen more behind them, “heading right for me!” The physical effects of the anxiety are reinforced and the lack of control is confirmed. Yet the worry continues. Something needs to be done about the “bad” things we observe.
Compound worry trumps other thoughts and feelings. The strong statement “I’m worried sick” is heard very clearly by every cell in the body. “Hey,” thinks the little cell, “the boss says I’m supposed to be sick.” What the boss expects, the boss gets. Ouch! You’re the BOSS! Is this what you want?
There is a growing awareness of the connection between attitude, expectation, and health. Certainly some diseases and ailments are influenced by genetic factors, but attitude is very powerful. You’ve read accounts of “the will to live” working miracles in terminal cases. Conversely, gut-wrenching worry and complaining can screw up the heartiest of digestive systems. On the other hand...
Hank’s Curious Math
A lot of people worry about getting older, as if worry will somehow reverse the process. Perception continues to rule. You may know of someone who is “old” at thirty and others who are “young” at eighty. The difference? Perspective. A good example is Hank.
Jovial 60-year-old Hank is smitten with 30-year-old Bonita, who is equally enchanted with Hank. They become engaged. “Goodness,” Hank’s friends remark, in horror, that “she’s half your age!”
“She’ll catch up,” replies Hank calmly. “When I’m 90 she’ll be two-thirds my age.”
In Hank’s perspective, at some point in time, they may very well be the same age. It’s a curious math – but a great attitude!
People are going to do what they are going to do. You KNOW this, you DO this. Every two year-old will let you know “you ain’t the boss of me!”
Although we may not always understand WHY we feel anxious, we are very good at observing a situation, condition, or person that we believe is causing the problem. We then leap into action to “fix” the problem. Or, if we’re unable to do that, we WORRY. We worry because we believe in some manner, that our concern ABOUT WHAT WE DO NOT WANT will somehow make it better.
During World War II many parents and families were worried about their loved ones in the military or living in war torn countries. What to do? Tossing and turning all night, going through the day envisioning all of the terrible things that COULD happen, and engaging in endless conversation with equally worried people resulted in…
…loved one still in war torn countries. Poet James Dillet Freeman composed a wonderful prayer for those families. The idea was to supplant WORRY with an equal attention to what was DESIRED. It worked very well. We use it today. It’s called the Prayer for Protection.
Wouldn’t you rather think, envision a loved one surrounded by the Light of God? The Love of God? The Presence of God? Rather than using the same thought energy to envision a loved one surrounded by car crashes, sickness, crime, misery - whatever the hazard. Which ever you do, you use the same amount of thought energy. Which is fueling what you WANT?
What you want is to “follow your bliss” as mythologist Joseph Campbell put it. Follow your bliss is not a myth, but an eternal and universal instinct that is never fully suppressed – that two year old again.
There’s only one person in the universe who knows what is good for you. And that’s YOU. Period. End of story. No more searching necessary. No longer necessary to ask others what you should want or do.
If one is unsure of their bliss, they may worry – a floating anxiety based on a lack of direction, so to speak. In this situation a person may WORRY about WORRYING. Compound worry!
The happiest people are those who delight in their Life and SHARE that delight. Not everyone understands that of course. As I wrote earlier…
Don’t Worry, be Happy! Yeah, riiiiight!
Worried about someone’s health? What can you do? Be healthy yourself and envision them as healthy. In the presence of such powerful vibration the dis-ease aligned with the EASE – and the person had what we consider an instant healing. It CAN happen that fast.
People who are unhappy equally like to share their misery, or, in most instances, are so practiced in worrying and focusing on what they don’t like they lose their awareness of HOW they are thinking. Adapting an old Russian (USSR) joke:
A Russian, an Englishman, and a Frenchman were walking along the road one day when they spotted a muddy lamp lying in the ditch. The Englishman picked it up and the Frenchman cleaned it. Suddenly, a Genie appeared in a puff of smoke. Greatly relieved to be free of her tiny prison, Genie offered to grant each of her liberators one wish.
The Englishman thought for a moment. “Genie, I wish that I owned a great estate with a full staff to wait on me and my family.” Poof! It was done.
The Frenchman thought for a moment. “Genie, I wish to be a famous poet and have hundreds of beautiful women clamoring to make love with me.” Poof! It was done.
Genie turned to the Russian. “And what wish may I grant for you?”
The Russian thought for a moment. “My neighbor has a new car and I do not. Wreck my neighbor’s car!”
People think like that. It’s the belief in a finite universe where there is a limited amount of everything including happiness and if someone HAS something, it is at the expense of someone else. This is nonsense. But it is an old and very entrenched belief.
If the Universe operated that way you could go to the hospital or wherever, get an injection of some terrible bacteria and become incredibly ill. Once you became sick, then magically some sick person somewhere in the world would be cured. You can try it. In a fashion, many folks do. But it doesn’t work.
Do I want to be happy?
Tommy liked his job. Tommy enjoyed his job so much that he actually looked forward to going to work each day. As the foreman of the shop he had a good crew to work with. It wasn’t that long ago that Tommy became enamored with Suzette, one of the administration staff at the facility. They married. Suzette and Tommy were very happy with themselves, their children, their jobs, and their life.
That was his problem.
Generous by nature, Tommy permitted his brother, separated from his wife and out of work, to live with them while he looked for work. Tommy’s father was ailing and he also joined the growing household. Coming over for regular bar-b-que’s and holidays were Tommy’s other siblings and relations. Their lives were filled with problems, resentments, illness, and legal issues. Tommy was concerned for all of them. He and Suzette felt blessed and happy while nobody else in the family did.
Tommy began to feel badly about feeling good. One day he discussed with his boss how he felt guilty because his relations were having so much trouble and his family had it so good. The boss understood, and was prepared to help Tommy. “Tell you what I can do, Tommy,” said the Boss. “You’re fired.”
Tommy was stunned. His boss continued. “Feel any better?” he asked. Tommy was too flummoxed to answer. “Now, as I understand it, some of your relations are jealous of your happy life and that bothers you. So, to help out, I’ve fired you. Now they’ll be happy, right?”
By that point Tommy was thinking more clearly. “But it won’t change anything, except now I don’t have a job.”
“You felt guilty about having a good job didn’t you?” asked the Boss.
“Well, yes,” replied Tommy.
“So by losing your job, you’ll feel better?”
“I don’t know about that,” said Tommy.
“Won’t they feel better, now that you’re in the same boat as them?” remarked the Boss.
“Doesn’t losing your job help them?”
“No,” mumbled Tommy.
“You mean to tell me that their lives aren’t going to get better just because you got fired?”
The Boss smiled. “Well, if losing your job isn’t going to help them, then you might as well keep it.” Tommy sighed relief. “However,” noted the Boss, “You can’t keep feeling guilty. Your having a job doesn’t keep them from doing anything. They’ll be just as miserable regardless of how happy and Suzette may be. That about right?”
Tommy scratched his head. “I hadn’t thought about it like that. My good life doesn’t mean they can’t have a good life. It’s up to them.”
So, don’t worry. Be happy for this Thanksgiving!