“Lauren,” Hank scolded, “you really have got to stop worrying so much. You’ve made it a full-time job! You worried about James failing high school. You worried that the girls would marry deadbeat husbands who wouldn’t provide for them. You worried about our flights getting canceled before our vacation. Last month, when you had that cold, you even worried about getting the whooping cough, of all things. You worried about all these things, and none of them happened!”
“See!” Lauren exclaimed. “It worked!”
How many of us are like Lauren? Sure, she was making a joke, she knew worrying didn’t do any good, but in some situations it seemed to be all she could do. She had long ago fallen into the habit of worrying, and she didn’t know how to fall out of it.
Research studies have revealed that we typically worry five times as much about things that will never happen as about things that actually do occur. That’s a lot of wasted worry! If you’re this distracted, you cannot effectively live up to your potential. Worry will drain your energy and stifle your commitment. Every minute you spend worrying is a minute that you’re not committing. Worry is the opposite of faith, so stop worrying, and deepen your faith.
One good way to combat worry is to commit to memory Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer”: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Once you’ve accepted the things you cannot change, how do you change the things you can? Simply take a rational approach. Let’s say you have a new job and are worried about making a mistake. The worrying mind quickly jumps to a worst-case—and highly unlikely—scenario: If you make a mistake, you’ll get fired. Rationally, you know this is improbable, but how do you prove it to yourself? It’s simple. First, you break down the chain of events that would lead to your firing. Then you assign a probability to each event; a rough estimate will do.
So what are the real odds of your being fired? Even though each individual probability is just a rough estimate, the total probability, which is the product of all these individual probabilities, is a good ballpark estimate:
Probability of being fired because of a mistake = 0.25 x 0.1 x 0.7 x 0.1 x 0.05 = .0000875, or .00875% (less than one chance in ten thousand).
Now, doesn’t that put things in perspective? This kind of rational approach can help you get a handle on your worries. If the chances of your being fired because of a mistake are less than one in ten thousand, there’s really no reason to worry about it.
I remember the words of the wise baboon, Rafiki (is that an oxymoron?) for the Lion King fans, “Hakuna Matata!” Meaning “There are no worries!” Well, that works great if you are living in the jungle …in a movie.
However, for today’s real world, I say, “No worries, take action!” Life’s rewards go to those whose actions rise above their excuses… and their worries.
So take positive action today and wash away your worries!
Winning with you,