Worrying doesn't have any benefits associated with it. You become anxious, nervous, fearful, jealous, and even shameful. You lose sleep over your worries, your health deteriorates, and you try to comfort yourself with anything that might offer an escape. Your relationships suffer because you become easily irritable and less patient with others. And you lose focus on what's most important in your life because you're fixated on your worries and cannot get them out of your head.
"Pray, and let God worry." -- Martin Luther King Jr.
I used to be an incessant worrier. Will I get an A on my exam? Will I get good SAT scores? Will I get into my top choices for schools? Will I get the scholarships I need? Will I find the right job? Will I have a wife and family? Will my kids be happy and healthy? Will I ever be rich? The list goes on and on of things that I've worried about over my lifetime.
To be honest, I'm still a worrier, just new and improved. I've become better at recognizing when I enter into a state of worry, embracing that state, and then getting over my worries. It's been a long process over the years to get to a point where I can brush off my worries pretty quickly. Here's the steps that I follow to overcome my worries that I'd like to share with you to live a freer and less anxious life:
- Let go. Acknowledge what you're worried about. Then let it go. Easier said than done. What's worked for me is praying about it and giving up control to God to take care of it. Also helpful has been re-reading the Bible passage titled "Do Not Worry." It always puts things into its proper context for me.
- Be grateful. Thank God for what you have. If you're worrying about a pay raise at work, then be thankful that you have a job. If you're worrying about your child always acting up, then be thankful that you have a child, as some parents would give up everything to have your problems by having their own child. Be thankful that what you have is enough, even if it isn't up to your ideals.
- Be present. Live for your moments in life, not your milestones. Today is the day that you were given the gift to be alive, so make the most of it. Don't take tomorrow for granted, so live for today. What's worked for me to be more present in my life--for myself and my family -- is to follow this simple guide: stop, look, listen, think, then go.
- Let serendipity happen. Things happen for a reason. Failures, mistakes, and missed chances are all opportunities for learning and growth. If it wasn't meant to be, accept it, move on, and let fate take over. Allow good things to happen by trusting that people are inherently good and that you will be rewarded for being true to yourself and your values.
As I look back on my life, I am absolutely convinced that everything happens for a reason and a higher purpose. Everything that I've worried about was really just wasted energy and time in the long run. Things always worked out as long as I trusted my gut and followed that hunger to make the hardest decisions in my life.
"Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition." -- Abraham Lincoln
Even though I know this to be true, I still worry. It's human nature to want everything to be comfortable and smooth. But life just doesn't work that way and since I've embraced the ups and the downs, I've become more grateful, more content, more present, and much happier.
So stop your worrying -- or at least slow it down a bit -- and start believing that it will all work out in the end.
Let go. Be grateful. Be present. And let serendipity take its course.
Originally appeared on LiveFamilyTravel.com. Images courtesy of author.
Cliff Hsia is a father who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. He writes about travel, family, love, happiness, faith, and everything else that life throws at him.