A Grandpa’s Guide To Getting By - Our grandpa-in-residence Pradeep Srivastava offers his advice for overcoming a habit we all share.
There are only two things to worry about
either you are well or you are sick.
If you are well,
then there is nothing to worry about.
If you are sick,
there are two things to worry about.
Either you will get well or you will die.
If you get well,
there is nothing to worry about.
If you die,
there are two things to worry about.
Either you will go to heaven or hell.
If you go to heaven,
there is nothing to worry about.
But if you go to hell,
you’ll be so damn busy shaking hands with your friends.
You won’t have time to WORRY!!
It makes no sense to worry about things you have no control over because there’s nothing you can do about them, and why worry about things you do control? The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized – Wayne Dyer
Everyone’s A Worry Wart
The Irish philosophy meme above is honestly just to humor you, but the Wayne Dyer quote is replete with wisdom and common sense and must be always kept in mind. I am personally a worry wart, akin to a lot of folks. Therefore, for a long time, I have been developing strategies to deal with the worrying temperament of mine.
In this article, I will try to document my ideas on the coping mechanism that I generally employ to address worries, not only for my personal benefit but also for the benefit of others. However, I would urge everyone to develop their own strategies because everyone’s temperament is different and the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always work.
Worrying is a Waste of Time
We all intuitively know that worrying is a sheer waste of time because it’s a lot like a rocking chair that gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere and yet we all still indulge in it, some more than others. Ironically, research reveals over 90% of the things we worry about never happen.
Obviously, if we want to address our worrying habit, we have to develop strategies when we are in a non-worrying, relaxed, and peaceful state of mind so that when worries do rear their ugly heads, we can squelch them summarily before they get a chance to grow, become unmanageable, and make our lives miserable.
I suggest taking the following simple steps to address worries.
Identify and define the Worry
What exactly is the worry? Is the worry real or imaginary? Some worries are legitimate, but most of them are not. For example, if I decide to take an overseas trip, there are zillions of things I have to worry about doing to make the trip as trouble-free and enjoyable as possible. That’s an example of legitimate worries. However, if I constantly worry about dying in a car accident at some point in my life, then that’s an example of an illegitimate worry because nobody really knows what will happen in the future. As Deepak Chopra once famously said, “The past is history, the future is a mystery, and this moment is a gift. That is why this moment is called ‘the present’.” Also comes to mind an old American song, “Doris Day – Que Sera Sera” (1).
Take Action to Address the Worry
If taking an appropriate action can assuage the worry, then take it. Action is indeed the best antidote to worry. If there is nothing that can be done to assuage the worry, then there is really nothing to worry about anyway.
Do the following immediately to lower the stress level that engenders worries, if the worries do end up manifesting
a) Take a few deep breaths to lower the stress level at the physical/physiological level.
b) Tell yourself quietly a few times the following famous axiom so as to lower the stress level at the emotional/mental/intellectual level: “This too shall pass” (2). And everything in the material world does pass with passage of time.
c) Recite quietly a few times one of your favorite mantras that has in the past quietened your turbulent mind through focusing on the spiritual dimension of your personality, which transcends your body-mind complex of the material world and thereby allows you to circumvent the mind, the very locus of all the stress.
My favorite mantra is short, easy to remember, and is about Lord Shiva: “Om Namah Shivaya” (“I take a bow to Lord Shiva”).
Keep in mind the following pearls of wisdom as a long term strategy to minimize stress and worries stemming from it—
चिता चिंता समाप्रोक्ता बिन्दुमात्रं विशेषता ।
सजीवं दहते चिंता निर्जीवं दहते चिता॥
चिता और चिंता समान कही गयी हैं पर उसमें भी चिंता में एक बिंदु की विशेषता है; चिता तो मरे हुए को ही जलाती है पर चिंता जीवित व्यक्ति को।
“Chita” and “Chinta” are said to be same still there is a difference of a dot. Pyre(chita) burns the dead while Worry(chinta) burns the alive.
b) तुलसी भरोसे राम के निर्भय होके सोये। अनहोनी होनी नहीं, होनी होय सो होये।। ~तुलसीदास Tulsidas
Tulasi bharose Ram ke nirbhaya ho ke Soye; anhoni honi nahi, honi hai so hoye
Sleep peacefully without any fear while relying on God; what is not destined to happen will never happen; let what is destined to happen, happen
c) कबिरा चिंता क्या करु, चिंता से क्या होय
मेरी चिंता हरि करै, चिंता मोहि ना कोय।
kabira chinta kya karu , chinta se kya hoye
Meri chinta Hari karai ,chinta mohi na koye .
Why should Kabir worry, what good it is to worry
God worries for me, I do not have any worry .
d) In the final analysis, God is the “cause of all the causes” (“Sarva Karana Karanam”). Of course, humans do feel that they have at least some limited amount of free will but what most folks don’t realize is that even that limited free will is under control of God. The Law of Karma established by God ultimately controls how much free will one has in a particular situation and what would be the outcome of one’s thoughts, words, and deeds.
e) Identify with your True Self (Atman or Soul), which is eternal, immutable, birthless, immortal, pure, peaceful, and an embodiment of Sat-Chit-Ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss), but just a witness of whatever we do do in the material world through our body-mind complex or whatever we perceive happening in the material world through our body-mind complex. The worry always arises in an ever changing, transitory, and ephemeral mind, not in one’s True Self (Atman or Soul).
The worry does need to be managed, however, as long as we are alive in the material world. A well-developed strategy that is simple and implementable is what is needed to manage worry.
- Doris Day – Que Sera Sera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZbKHDPPrrc
- This too shall pass https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_too_shall_pass
Photo by Jonathan Sebastiao on Unsplash
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