Worrying About What Might Happen

Can you imagine spending $525,600 on a device that lets you know if a meteor is going to crash into your head?  That would be ridiculous, right?  Why would someone spend that kind of money on an event that will most likely never occur?

We do the very same thing whenever we worry about something that is out of our control.  Check out these numbers that illustrate the high cost of worrying:

  • 1 day spent worrying costs 1,440 minutes of your life
  • 1 month of worrying costs 43,200 minutes of your life
  • 1 year of worrying costs 525,600 minutes of your life

That’s staggering!  Those numbers represent the price we pay to worry about something we can’t control instead of using that time for positive thinking, planning, relationship building, or personal growth and development.   The price of unproductive worry is indeed high!

So what can we do if we find ourselves tempted to start worrying about something that is out of our control?  The following steps offer timeless guidance on this topic:

First, determine the worst case scenario and prepare to accept it.  This is great advice Dale Carnegie wrote about on the topic of worry.  It is helpful to consider the worst case scenario because once you know what it is; you have a framework from which to begin problem solving.

Next, create a plan to improve on the worst case scenario.  Are there any corrective or preventative steps you can take to improve the worst case scenario?  If so, take those steps immediately.

Finally, stop worrying about it, fill your mind with positive encouraging content, and go live your life and.  If you’ve accepted the possibility of the worst case scenario and have done all you can do to influence it, then there’s nothing more you can do.  This is the point to stop worrying, because it no longer serves a purpose.  Instead of worrying, spend that time filling your mind with positive encouraging words to help improve your outlook.  It may be talking to encouraging people or listening to positive music or reading something positive.  I specifically like reading the Psalms to help alleviate worry, as there is always one that is relevant to my specific concern.

Here’s another thought to consider when you begin to worry.  According to Earl Nightingale, only 8% of what we worry about are legitimate worries!  The other 92% are what he calls, “[…]pure fog with no substance at all.”

Do we really want to spend 525,600 minutes a year worrying, especially when most worries are beyond our control or unlikely to occur?  When confronted with worry, take a moment and realize how costly worry can be in wasted minutes.  Minutes that could be spent on more personally profitable endeavors and can never be reclaimed once spent.

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Being Proactive

We are fortunate to be able to make choices for ourselves and then take action on those choices.  I was recently re-inspired this week by Stephen Covey’s 1st habit of highly effective people:  Be Proactive.

The call to be proactive reminds me of the positive effect that comes when I make choices and take action toward something I want to bring about in my life.  I’m always amazed at how much control and influence I have over the direction of my life when I decide to be proactive.

I’ve been thinking this week about where my choices have brought me and what choices I currently need to make to take my life where I want it to go in the future.  We need to be mindful every day of the power our choices have to shape our future.  In addition, we should immediately follow our choices up with decisive action.  Our choices coupled with action are requirements to create the life we desire to live.   It’s being intentional about where we’re going in life.  Remember, nobody out just wandering around ever found themselves on top of Mt. Everest.

Be mindful of the decisions and choices you’re making in the weeks and months ahead.  Make good choices that move your life in the direction you want to take it.  Then, follow-up on those choices with decisive action to begin traveling down the road toward the life you’re actively creating.

Where are Your Decisions Leading You

Think about the all the small decisions you make on a daily basis and project those decisions out 1, 5, or 10 years into the future, and ask yourself:

  • What kind of physical shape will I be in?
  • Will I have improved my thinking, learning and personal development?
  • How will my relationships with the ones closest to me look?
  • What kind of spiritual condition will I be in?
  • How will my financial health look?

All of these areas of our lives matter and they are influenced by our daily decisions.  Our choices, whether good or bad, may not have an immediate impact for days, months, or even longer, but eventually the compounding effect of these decisions will become noticeable.  For example, if every day we’re making unhealthy decisions, a health related crisis is coming that will demand our attention.  If however, we’re taking care of our bodies and making wise choices regarding our health, we can look forward to a healthy body that will serve us well in the years ahead.

Small daily decisions yield significant results over time.  Where are your daily decisions leading you?

Take in the Experience

I love to hike, and since I live in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, I’m fortunate to get a large dose of natural scenic beauty on a regular basis.  My favorite hiking destinations are the ones that reward hikers for their effort with a commanding view and breathtaking scenery.  Starting early in the morning on a challenging hike to a much anticipated viewpoint is one of my favorite ways to spend a day.  The anticipation of the view and then finally seeing it with my own eyes is exhilarating.  For me, it’s one of those events that make me thankful to be alive.

Three Sisters Wilderness

Three Sisters Wilderness

One thing I’ve noticed about myself in recent years is that when I reach one of these viewpoints, I immediately begin taking pictures of the scene.  Depending on the view, I can easily take over 100 pictures in my attempt to capture the beautiful scene before me.  I don’t want to miss a single detail!

Inevitably, after several minutes at my feverish picture-taking pace, I begin to hear a voice inside of me saying, “Hey, enough pictures.  Just stop, and take in the experience.”

At that point I put the camera away and just take in the experience with all of my senses.  I literally feast my eyes on the scene before me, noticing shapes, colors, contrasts and myriad other details that I had missed while seeing it through the screen of a digital camera.  I listen to the whooshing sound of the wind as it blows through the tops of pine trees or across the face of a rock-exposed mountain.  I hear the unique sound that a river makes as water curls over a rock and collapses back on itself.  There are also the tactile feelings and fresh smells of the surrounding environment that make for a complete experience.  All of these things I would have missed, had I continued taking pictures.

Those hiking experiences always cause me to wonder what else I may be missing out on in my non-hiking life when I don’t stop and take in the experience.  Where am I busily rushing around, forgetting to stop and enjoy the surrounding environment, event, or people I’m with?  Hiking is good for me in that respect.  It provides me with a mental reset, a reminder to be mindful about taking in the experience, no matter what I’m doing.

What about you?  Are there areas of your life where your too busy “taking pictures” that you’re forgetting to stop and take in the experience?  Start becoming mindful about what you’re doing and who you’re with.  Decide now that although you’ll take some pictures along the way, you’ll also be sure to put the camera down and take in the experience as well.