There are some things I’m good at: I can clean, organize, delegate, and plan like a boss. I can cook well enough to get paid to do it, and I can write pretty well. But I have one skill that I haven’t yet figured out how to market, and when I do, I’m fairly certain it will make me rich. I can worry with such skill and creativity that I’m convinced it’s worth something!
I can imagine all the possible worst-case scenarios and outcomes for companies and individuals. I can worry about things that are actual possibilities, as well as things that are so far-fetched they would make terrific movie scripts! I’d love to put this skill to work, because at the moment it’s really more of a liability—something that robs me of peace and tranquility and wastes a lot of time and energy.
God’s Word takes a clear position on worrying: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”1 Another passage says, “Do not be anxious for anything.”2 How come I can so easily and comfortably worry about things when the Bible tells me so clearly not to?
There are times—lots of times—when my worrying steals all the joy out of my life. I’ve, literally, cried about tragedies that never happened. I’ve raged about difficulties that never materialized. I’ve stressed over problems that never came to pass. Sometimes I feel foolish when after a sleepless night spent crying, worrying, and stressing, I wake up in the morning to a tragedy-free life! I’ve been through this cycle enough times that I’m starting to realize the futility and uselessness of it. I can’t say that I’ve broken the habit, or harnessed any amazing meditation techniques that have eliminated my worrying, but I’m starting to think that maybe I should simply … stop.
Here’s some advice and techniques I picked up from the American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie:
Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen and make peace with it. That might seem a little scary to do, but I find it’s one of the best ways to let go of worry. In the words of Carnegie, “Once you accept the worst that can happen, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s the beginning of freedom.”
Keep busy. I worry the most at night. Sometimes getting up and doing something, or praying for others and their situations, is easier than just lying there.
Set about doing the things that actually can be done to improve the situation. Sometimes there’s something that I can do, like make a phone call, send an email, or just commit the issue to God in prayer.
No matter how bad or difficult things get, there is always something to be grateful for. And eliminating as much worry as we can from our lives will save us time and energy. Time and energy that we can use toward building or working at the things that really matter.
It is more fitting for a man to laugh at life than to lament over it.—Seneca (4 BC–65)
The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.—Marcel Pagnol (1895–1974)
Men spend their lives in anticipations, in determining to be vastly happy at some period when they have time. But the present time has one advantage over every other—it is our own. Past opportunities are gone, future [ones] have not come. We may lay in a stock of pleasures, as we would lay in a stock of wine; but if we defer the tasting of them too long, we shall find that both are soured by age.—Charles Caleb Colton (1780–1832)
The value of a smile... It costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None are so rich they can get along without it, and none so poor but are richer for its benefits. It creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in a business, and is the countersign of friends.—Dale Carnegie (1888–1955)
I have nothing to do with tomorrow
My Savior will make that His care.
Should it [come] with trouble and sorrow,
He’ll help me to suffer and bear.
I have nothing to do with tomorrow
Its burden then why should I share?
Its grace and its strength I can’t borrow,
So why should I borrow its care?
—Major D. W. Whittle
1. Matthew 6:34 NIV
2. Philippians 4:6 NIV