According to research most of the things we worry about are based in the future. This is because we fear the unknown.
As humans we don’t like the unknown, we prefer certainty, stability and security.
There’s only one thing, for certain, we know about the future and thats the fact that it ends in death.
Knowing this fact, does nothing for our stability or security.
Death is the ultimate loss and fear is all about loss.
So because we know we will lose our life this fear seeps into every other aspect of our lives. We fear losing our job, our money, our house, our health and the ability to look after ourselves and loved ones.
These fears are all in the future.
BUT what if we could visit the future.
OK we can’t visit our future but we can listen to people who have most of their lives behind them, the elderly.
For his Legacy Project, Professor Karl A. Pillemer asked 1,200 elderly people this question:
“What do you regret when you look back over your life?”
The most popular answer, by far, was:
“I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.”
John Alonzo, 83, is a man of few words, but I quickly learned that what he had to say went straight to the point. A construction worker, he had battled a lifetime of financial insecurity. But he didn’t think twice in giving this advice:
Don’t believe that worrying will solve or help anything. It won’t. So stop it.
James Huang, 87, put it this way:
Why? I ask myself.
What possible difference did it make that I kept my mind on every little thing that might go wrong?
When I realized that it made no difference at all, I experienced a freedom that’s hard to describe.
My life lesson is this: Turn yourself from frittering away the day worrying about what comes next and let everything else that you love and enjoy move in.
So what can we learn from this?
1. Accept the facts, forget the fiction.
We will die, that’s a fact but we don’t know if we’ll lose our jobs, money or houses so there’s no point worrying about things that might or might not happen.
We can only live our lives in two ways: needlessly worrying or trying to enjoy it.
2. Worrying makes things worse.
Worrying impacts happiness.
Being unhappy for long periods of time affects both your mental and physical health. You are more likely to lose what you hold dear, to yourself, if you’ve lost control of these faculties.
Likewise if you’re happy you’re more likely to be healthier and therefore both mentally and physically stronger. You’ll be more successful in retaining what you value in this state of being.
3. Learn to enjoy the positives in your life right now.
Your past and your future is only made up of what’s happening right now. If you are positive in the present then your past and your future will also be happy.
One of the most important words in the above sentence is, “learn”.
Our minds are predisposed to creating a certain amount of worry. This is healthy. A little amount of worry is a good motivator, it helps us improve, to flee from danger or prepare for it.
The problem comes when we worry too much.
Think about the old analogy: the glass half full or empty and how you perceive it.
Is it half full or half empty?
Now imagine the water is your life. You have to drink it to survive but when it’s all gone you will have nothing else to drink and therefore no more life.
So what do you do?
Enjoy drinking the water while you still have it or not drink it, worry about it evaporating and die of dehydration.
We’ve got to learn to see the glass half full.
We’ve got to learn to enjoy it now while we still can or we will look back on our lives and wish we hadn’t worried so much.
The more we practice anything the better we get at it.
Think of something you’ve started doing something that required some mental attention like, Sudoku, Crosswords or a game on your mobile. You need to do them repeatedly to improve.
This is the same with positive thinking. You have to regularly practice thinking positively before it becomes more natural to you.
This is why I set up happymap, to consciously practice positive thought.
happymap encourages us to post something that made us happy everyday. Then when we look back at our past posts we can see that not only did everything turned out OK but it was a pretty pleasant experience.
Does it work?
Yes, we have data and testimonials stating it’s helped people do the following:
– Think more positively
– Worry less
– Feel better about themselves
Can you complete it? Yes of course you can…. think positively 🙂