Dying Daily #123: Don’t Worry. Be Happy. Really.

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”

― Epictetus

Expectations lead us to suffering because we have no control over whether or not they will be met a majority of the time. Worry leads us to suffering because by its very nature we only worry about things we cannot control. This is why too much news is one of the most toxic things you can do to yourself.

Talking about thoughts has to lead us to talking about worry, because worry seems to be the predominate form thoughts take for many people.

There is always something to worry about.

What if my child is in a car wreck because they were texting and driving?

What if my spouse leaves me?

What if I get fired?

What if my house burns down while I’m at work getting fired?

What if the guy they are swearing in today runs civilization off a cliff?

What if the guy getting sworn in today only gets 4 years to fix this mess the other guy made?

What if my dog runs away?

What if I have cancer?

What if all this worrying is giving me an ulcer that turns into cancer?

Every single one of these things is beyond our control, no matter what our brains tell us. Sure, there are things we can do to make them less likely, but it doesn’t always matter.

One of the truest things about life is that we can do everything right, and things will still go wrong.

We can tell our kids about the dangers of texting and driving or drinking and driving or just driving at all, but they will still make their own choices.

We can be the best spouse, employee and dog owner possible, and yet they may all decide they don’t need us or that the grass is greener somewhere else.

We can be responsible voters and volunteer to get the word out and post lengthy opinion pieces on Facebook, and our candidate might still lose. We can think we know our candidate and they do an about face on us once they get into office. Our candidate might have to deal with something overwhelming that is beyond their control that affects their agenda.

We can be smart about how we live and still get a debilitating disease.

So, the question becomes one of why we are allowing our mental energy to be directed to things we cannot control.

Why do we give these things space in our head?

Right now, take a second and think of something you are worried about that is beyond your control. Take the next minute, and think about it really hard. Think about every facet of this issue, think about how much it sucks and how much you hate it. Think about all the things you wish you could do about it, all the solutions you would apply if you were omnipotent or just a little more important.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Did you do it?

What is different now?

Is the problem any better?

How do you feel now?

What did all the worry do for you?

My guess is that the problem is exactly as it was, while you, if you actually did the exercise, feel worse now.

The problem is untouched, you are less happy,

The power of worry.