The other day I watched the movie Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks playing attorney James Donovan who defended Rudolf Abel, a Russian spy played by Mark Rylance. I highly recommend the movie if you have not seen. Anyway, Hanks’ character asks his client a few times throughout the movie, “do you ever worry?” and his client’s response is always, “would it help?” It got me thinking about how much we worry in general and how it really doesn’t help. For the past week I’ve been worrying myself because I have been away from my family on a business trip and my wife is on the same boat so our children are spending extra time with grandma. As every parent knows, it’s hard not to worry about your children when you’re away from them, especially so far.
So, why do we worry? Love, fear, hate, guilt and so many other reasons. We worry about our family, our friends, our spouse, our children, mom, dad, brothers, and sisters. We worry about our careers, our finances, our reputations, our safety and our security. We worry about anything we can think of to include unlikely scenarios that have an extremely small chance of happening like the end of the world. Can it happen? Yes. Will it happen? More than likely, you and I will not be around to find out. Everyone worries. Everyone gets that same horrible feeling of worry.
Worry gets the best of us at times. It gets in the way of much of our progress and can potentially cause many more unnecessary problems or issues. No one wants to worry. It would be great if we could live a life free from worries, but chances are good that we aren’t going to. Don’t worry, be happy right? That is easier said than done. So, if we can’t get rid of worry, what is there to do?
You can reduce your worry. Reduce it so that it does not eat at you. Here are 3 ways you can do just that.
Focus On What You Can Control
Worrying usually begins with the things that are completely out of our control. We cannot control the weather and how it affects our timeline. We cannot control other people’s emotions and there are so many more things in this world that are completely out of our control. As a matter of fact, the only thing we are truly are in control of is our mind and the choices we make. When you accept this truth, your worrying will dramatically be reduced.
Everyday that I was on my trip, I talked to my wife and kids. Still, I was constantly thinking about the things that could go wrong while I was away. This didn’t help me at all. The fact is I couldn’t control anything back home. I was worrying myself with no real reason to worry because everything was fine. Could something have gone wrong? Yes, but the same can happen even when I was there. Had something actually happened then worrying would be legitimate. It took me some reading and journaling to realize what the unnecessary stress I was putting on myself.
Keep Yourself Busy
Keep your mind busy and keep your hands busy. If you find yourself worrying too much then you need to get busy. Staying busy can take your mind away from the very thing that has you worrying. Basically, you’re distracting your mind from worry. Some people throw themselves into work, others throw themselves into other projects. If for some reason you can’t do either, then it’s time to find a hobby that you can get lost in.
During the time I was away, I was able to rid myself of the worry I was feeling by keeping myself busy. Work, reading, writing, running and sightseeing were what kept my mind busy. Doing so allowed me to relax and enjoy my time in a place that I had never been before.
Do Something Nice For Someone
Replace your worry with the thought of someone else. Do something nice for someone without the expectation of something in return. Help a friend move, volunteer someplace, or you can even write a handwritten letter to someone. Never underestimate the power of a handwritten letter. It’s always a great surprise to receive one of those in your mailbox. The point is, while you’re doing something nice for someone else and/or helping them out, you’re also helping yourself. Your mind is not longer focused on the worries that troubled you. Your mind focuses on the immediate which is whatever you’re doing in the moment to help someone else.
Worry is a feeling we’ll never get rid of completely, but we can dramatically reduce it. Focus on what you can control, keep yourself busy and do something nice for someone else.