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“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

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
― Corrie ten Boom, Clippings from My Notebook

Wikipedia defines worry as “thoughts, images and emotions of a negative nature in which mental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats.”  When you are worrying you are focused on a future that you are trying to avoid not on the future you want to be realized.

Worry does have a positive side as it serves as a protection mechanism. Picture yourself at the top of a steep ski run that is quite a bit above your ability. Worry is that line of thinking that protects your body from a bad decision. Worry is especially helpful in situations that you are in control of the situation.

But in most instances we worry about things we can’t directly control.  We worry about what other people are going to do, we worry about the economy, we worry about situations, we worry about consequences that have a low probability of happening.  And as we worry about these things we are filling our thoughts with negativity and therefore bringing negativity into our experience. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So when you start worrying recognize it and turn it around. Control your thought. Instead of worrying take productive action.

Don’t worry, be proactive.

Worrying is a passive activity. Action is in the present and when you worry your thoughts are frozen on what may happen in the future. Instead of worrying and let something happen be proactive and create your own future.

Don’t worry, be grateful.

A good friend of mine defines worry as “ingratitude in advance”. I believe gratitude is core to a happy fulfilled life and if you are perpetually worried you are focusing on all of the bad things that may happen not on all of the good already received and yet to be received.

Don’t worry, be thoughtful.

Instead of letting a worry gnaw at your and keep you awake here are a few steps that I have taken that help you clear your mind. In a business setting it would be called scenario planning.

First I take a piece of paper and write down exactly what I’m worried about; what may happen, when it may happen and the possible consequences.  I then write down the possible actions I could take given the circumstances and when exactly I could do in advance to try to change the situation or as a result of the situation if it were to come to pass as I was worried about. I find that the act of putting it in writing confines the problem and puts the options into play. It stops my speculation and the problem stops swirling around in my thought.

Don’t worry, by happy. (you knew it was coming)

When you worry you are being negative and when you are negative it is hard to express joy and happiness.  Life is too short to avoid happiness by worrying about what may never come to pass.  Choose not to worry, be proactive, be thoughtful and be grateful instead and you will bring happiness into your life.