Don't Worry, Be Happy

You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.

Worry is the most common, most destructive emotion known to mankind. In fact, some people even say, “I’m worried sick,” and more often than not, they’re right. The worry not only destroys their emotional health, it destroys their physical health as well.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the same thing. People can be strange. They can spend more time worrying about what might go wrong in the future than they do enjoying the present. And they can spend more time worrying about an upcoming bill, a difficult customer, or a challenging relationship than they do thinking about how to solve those problems.

It doesn’t make any sense, because worry, by its very nature is nonsense. Worry doesn’t prevent problems from happening, and worry doesn’t resolve a difficulty. ALL WORRY CAN DO IS MAKE YOU INEFFECTIVE IN THE PRESENT.

It’s like the young man who proposed to his girlfriend as they sat looking over a beautiful lake. He said, “Darling, I want you to know that I love you more than anything else in this world. I want you to marry me. I’m not wealthy like Johnny Green. I don’t have a yacht like Johnny Green or a Rolls-Royce like Johnny Green, but I do love you with all my heart.”

She thought for a minute and then replied, “I love you with all my heart, too, but tell me more about Johnny Green.”

Of course, I’m teasing you with this story. But you get the point. If that young man got all worked up about Johnny Green, if he got all worried about losing his girlfriend, he wouldn’t know what to do or what to say. He would, as I said above, be ineffective in the present.

Now I know that getting rid of worry isn’t easy. I’ve had to fight against it myself. Worry is, after all, very addictive. The more you do it, the more you tend to do it. Worry is self-perpetuating. It feeds upon itself. The slightest worry can give birth to a much larger batch of worries.

Here’s what you need to do if worry gets in your way. SAY, “STOP!” It sounds strange, but it really works. The next time a worry comes into your mind, a worry that you don’t want, a worry that you know is self-destructive, say, “Stop!” Whether you say it in your mind or say it out loud, shout, “Stop!” You will kill the worry right in its tracks.

Of course, your worry might come back instantly. It may have become a habit with you. Or it may come back later on in the upcoming days and weeks. It may come back many times, but every time you have the worry, tell yourself, “Stop!” With enough repetition, you will cancel out the worry.

Secondly, SAY, “THANK YOU.” Whether you know it or not, whether you do it consciously or unconsciously, you feed your mind on a continual basis. And what you feed your mind, you will begin to resemble. If you feed your mind a steady stream of worries, you’ll start to look like a “worry wart,” and if you haven’t noticed, warts aren’t pretty. If, on the other hand, you feed your mind a steady stream of gratitude, you’ll start to look like “a picture of contentment.”

So start taking more walks, and as you do, talk to yourself. Say “Thank you” a thousand times. That’s right, a thousand times. Just say the words, out loud or in your head, over and over again. Your mind will wander occasionally, and some of your worries may pop back into your head, but just say, “Stop,” and go back to saying, “Thank you.” Do this once in a while, and you’ll be amazed at the peace that washes over you. And you’ll be delighted by how much less worrying you will do in the future.

Finally, GIVE IT TO GOD. You can get rid of your worries by taking a spiritual as well as a psychological approach. Of course, if you find spiritual approaches to be offensive, skip this one. The only reason I mention it is because it works. I don’t say it to be preachy or to tell you what to believe. It’s just that so many people will tell you that they tried it, and it works.

To be more specific, giving it to God doesn’t mean you don’t do anything. On the contrary, a smart person thinks of ways to resolve his problems, and he takes whatever steps he thinks are appropriate. He uses his mind and does what he can, and then he consciously puts it in God’s hands. He says, in effect, “Okay, God, the rest is up to you. I refuse to worry about it.” He follows the example of Mary Crowley who said, “Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He’s going to be up all night anyway.”

Action:  For one week, consciously, literally, verbally or silently, say “STOP” every time a worry pops into your head. Follow this procedure for one week, even if you have to tell yourself “STOP” hundreds of times. Then at the end of the week, give yourself a little treat for taking control of your worry instead of letting your worry take control of you.