Worry has the capacity to make you look and feel much older than you really are. Worrisome thoughts have the unique ability to morph quickly into it's sinister sidekick, stress.
If you want to stay young, there's one type of thought that you should learn to eliminate from your life… the ‘worrisome’ ones.
A Detached Look At Worry
Worry takes place in a place that doesn't even exist… the future. Worry isn't a thought about something that happened in the past (another place that doesn't exist). You can regret or lament the past but you don't do any worrying there. Worrisome thoughts are always about something that might (just maybe), happen in the future.
Your conscious mind has the ability to creatively imagine things that aren't real. There's nothing ‘real’ about either the future or some bogus scenario that you're imagining maybe happening there.
Whenever you feel worried about something, that ‘feeling’ is backed up by a thought that is being projected into the future.
Put another way, whatever you're feeling at any given moment is a result of your own thinking. Any feeling you experience is merely an echo of thought.
What Is A Thought… Really?
Have you every wondered what a thought really is? Where do they come from? Your conscious mind is a beehive of activity, always conjuring up thoughts about everything imaginable, including those worrisome ones about the future.
But when you get right down to it, any thought about the future is merely a figment of your imagination. Sure, there are thoughts that are creative and thoughts that can make you feel good. But worrisome thoughts projected into the future can be downright debilitating, bringing you to your knees faster than a fallen angel.
Ridding your mind of unresourceful thoughts brings a semblance of peace to your life, allowing you to age healthily and gracefully.
There's nothing real about a fearful thought projected into the future. You're just using your mind to paint a picture of a monster, and then running out of the room screaming.
The Thoughtless Hourglass
Consider for a moment your life being like an hourglass. The skinny center represents the present moment. The grains of sand inside the hourglass symbolize your thoughts. The ones at the top are much like the the future as they haven't yet reached the present. The grains at the bottom are past thoughts since they've already passed through the present.
The narrow waist of the hourglass will only allow one grain of sand to pass through at a time… representing the sanctity of the now.
But that's where the similarity comes to a screeching halt because, unlike your thoughts, the glass doesn't give a rat's ass about all the sand particles waiting above (the future), and it is equally ambivalent to the grains that have already fallen to the bottom (the past).
The shape of the hourglass dictates that it must concentrate on letting just one grain of sand pass through at a time, otherwise things could get clogged up in a hurry and cause quite a bit of confusion.
But unlike the hourglass, you're much more intelligent. You have the ability to short-circuit the present moment and instead of staying ‘in the here and now’ (where an ageless mind and body can be had), you have the freedom to project your thoughts into the future… where worry resides.
A wise woman once said:
“It's downright silly if not utterly ridiculous to be pre-occupied with the future, a place that doesn't even exist. Your future will be ultimately determined by what you choose to think and do right NOW! Wouldn't it be smarter to stay steadfastedly in the present, a place where it's pretty much impossible to worry?”
Much Too Busy To Worry
It takes time and effort to train your mind to stop thinking so much. Until you get to that point, one sure way to eliminate extraneous thoughts is to become so goddamn busy that you don't have time to think.
I once went through a period in my life where I did just that. I was going through a divorce and decided to take a part time job as a fitness trainer at a gym to serve as a distraction. I was already working full time as an electrician.
In addition to the two jobs, I was training for an upcoming marathon. My schedule looked like this:
- Wake up at 5:00am and run until 6:00am
- Shower and eat breakfast from 6:00am to 6:30am
- Work at my electrical job from 7:00am until 3:30pm
- Work at the athletic club from 4:00pm until 9:30pm
- Go home and sleep from 10:00pm until 5:00pm
- Get up and do it all over again
Weekends didn't bring much relief. I did my long training runs on Saturday and Sunday mornings and then worked at the gym afterwards on both days. My only free time was Saturday and Sunday nights but I found myself way too exhausted to leave the house.
I didn't have time to go to the bank, grocery store or the post office during the week. I barely had time to brush my teeth. I was bad-ass busy.
Another thing I didn't have time to do was worry. I was sleeping like a breast-fed baby without a care in the world.
Of course I could never have maintained this schedule for an extended period of time without going bonkers. My over-the-top busyness lasted for three months, which was plenty long enough for me.
For those three months I was living completely and happily in the present moment.
A 3 Step Formula To Stop Worrying In It's Tracks
Your mind will probably continue to insist on spending some of its time in the future. It's a nasty habit honed by years of practice. When you find yourself thinking anxious thoughts, there is a practical 3 step formula that has proved to be effective in coaxing the mind back to the present.
- Figure out the worst thing that could possibly happen if what you're worrying about actually did come to fruition.
- Whatever that worse scenario is (apart from certain death or imprisonment), decide to be ‘okay’ with it. By doing this, you've placed yourself in a state of acceptance; there's now nothing left for you to lose.
- Once you're emotionally free, you can come back to the present moment and work out a way to improve upon that worst-case scenario.
With step #1 you've analyzed the situation with brutal honesty.
The second step emotionally prepares you to accept the worst. “Be willing to have it so”, as William James said it so well.
Step #3 gets you back where you need to be… creatively working on a way to modify the perceived outcome or, avoiding it all together.
Employing mind tricks by using psychological ploys to return to (or stay in) a more peaceful present can be quite useful. Whatever works, right? But the bottom line is that…
There's Really Nothing To Worry About
I do realize that 99% of the population would take exception to that sub-heading. But then again, 99% of people allow worry and stress to age themselves faster than necessary.
If the future doesn't exist yet (and it doesn't), then it makes absolutely no sense to worry about something that's not even real. So I repeat…
There's NOTHING to worry about!
“A happy man is too too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future”
Or, how about these 14 words of wisdom:
“Nothing real can be threatened; nothing unreal exists. Therin lies the peace of God”
A Course in Miracles
Your mind is a powerful and fascinating tool, free to form thoughts about whatever you like. Would you prefer to hold peaceful, present thoughts about living a long, joyful and disease-free life OR, do you want to project your thoughts into the future and conjure up make-belive stories and scenarios that can cause worry, stress and aging?
You're free to think and believe whatever you choose to. And whatever that might be… will be your reality.