When it comes to worry, we’re both pretty strong contenders in that category. I think the older we’ve gotten the more worrisome we’ve gotten. It seems the stakes are higher. There’s so much more to lose if things go sideways.
When you’re running the “show”, whether it’s at the office or at home, there’s a lot riding on the many decisions we make everyday. “Did I forget something”? “Did I make the right decision when deciding to stay home”? The future…our happiness, depends on the decisions we’re making now.
Every time we use the present to stress about the future, we’re choosing to sacrifice joy today to mourn joy we might not have tomorrow. It may seem like we’re creating solutions or somehow protecting ourselves from pain, but in all reality, we’re just causing ourselves more of it.
Perhaps the key is to challenge that instinctive sense of fear we feel when we start thinking about uncertainty. When I look back at the most fulfilling parts of my life, I realize most of them took me completely by surprise.
I may not have gotten everything I wanted, but I’ve wanted what I’ve gotten more than often enough to compensate. The unknown may have provided some heartache, but it’s also provided adventure and excitement.
For every time I’ve felt disappointed, there’s been another moment when I’ve felt a sense of wonder. Those are the moments we live for—when all of a sudden we see the world through new eyes in a way we could never have known to predict.
Uncertainty is the cost of that deeply satisfying, exhilarating, spontaneous sense of awe.
It would be easy to say that mindfulness is the answer to worrying. If you’re truly immersed in the present moment, there wouldn’t be any reason to fixate on what might be coming. But I suspect that it’s inevitable we’ll do that from time to time. We’re only human, after all.
Maybe a better suggestion is a combination of being in the moment and trusting in the one to follow.
We can’t always control what it will look like, but we can know that more often than not, it will lead to something good if we’re open to it. When it doesn’t, we’ll get through it—and faster if we haven’t already overwhelmed ourselves with what-ifs and worst-case scenarios.
On the other side of worry, there’s trust. We can’t always trust in specifics, but we can trust in ourselves.
If you’re a Beatles fan, there’s a John Lennon song, “Beautiful Boy” that says…
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans,
John Lennon! You’re brilliant! What an important message. When we worry about the future and what it will bring, life happens to us and we’ve just missed it. Putting worry in it’s place is crucial for staying “in the moment”.
As the Dali Lama says,
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
Oh, lordy…this is me. To a tee. I’ve worried my whole life. A lot of it comes to me in the dark of the night, when nobody is awake but the mind that is trying to drive me crazy, twist me in knots, and keep me from sleeping. As I have said on my resolutions sheet, I work in an industry that looks to the future and deadlines are critical. I don’t know if is the chicken or the egg thing: not sure if I was already a future worrier and this career was a fit, or the career was a fit and I learned to future worry because of it. In any case, this is one of my HUGE issues that I’m working on like the devil to alleviate.
I have found that if I verbalize what is bothering me, it takes the worries from my cob-webbed brain and exposes them to the light. And usually I realize that: I can’t control the future; the future is ever changing; the world probably isn’t going to stop spinning; I have made a mountain out of a mole hill. (That is another issue!) I’m working at refocussing my thoughts and really trying my damndest to stay focussed on the present. And if you catch me slacking….please call bullshit!
Oh my, how I worry. Both at home and in my career, planning was essential. Not only am I a planner, but a researcher. Unless I’m guided by a plan, I worry about where we’re going….and since I don’t know where we’re going, the worries about how we’re going to get there never go away. I am married to someone who is not a planner…he’s more of a “let’s just do this” type of guy. The career part of my life is over…that’s where I had full control of the planning need in my life. My husband and I have entered a new phase of our lives…after 9 out of state moves in the last 10 years, I think all of that is over. I believe we are in the location that could be our retirement location….Atlanta! I am now focused on finding something fulfilling at home (thanks for reading….because this is it!). The kids are well established…so they haven’t needed me in years and I find myself a little panicked due to a lack of plan for our “next phase” at home. Previously, there was never any time for a “home” plan…I was too busy with my own career and the day to day plans necessary to get kids from point A to point B.
So now I know that all my worries are easily avoided with a plan. Now,I need to reconcile my style (I call it a style…it’s really a need….perhaps baggage, but that’s another day) with my husband’s “let’s just do this” approach to life. My new resolutions are to realize planning is MY thing…so I’ll take on my husband’s approach….”I’ll just do this” and spend 15 minutes every morning (and I have a very lovely quiet morning now) making, tracking or revising plans that will preempt all my worry time. My husband can have first right of refusal (sometimes), and I think I’m much happier already!