A study came out last fall detailing how the anticipation, and more specifically the dread, of a painful event is actually worse on us than the thing itself. (Read a summary of it here) To me, that doesn't seem like a huge discovery. I suppose they've officially proven it, but it honestly seems rather like common sense. I think anyone who tends to be a worrier would probably agree. It's easy as yoga teachers or for those who are very religious to talk about surrendering to the universe or to God, but it's tough to really practice it from day to day.
It doesn't just have to be something major or physical - I find so often that when I worry or anticipate something going on at work or someone's reaction to a problem, the reality is almost never as bad as the scenario I've worked out in my head. And what a waste of that time I just spent dreading, worrying, and anticipating! I feel like I've lost entire days worrying about an event, spending the day anxious and miserable, only for it to wind up being no big deal.
One of my little "life commandments," after being inspired by Gretchen Rubin's "Happiness Project" is that, "Worry is futile." I believe that sentiment with every fiber of my being, but find it hard to put in to practice. I tend to be a worrywort in general, so it's a constant practice for me to be aware and let it go. Sometimes when you repeat the same mantra over and over, however, instead of gaining power it can lose a bit of power - you get used to the words, you get used to repeating it to yourself and honestly sometimes the power and effectiveness wears off a bit. It helps to hear the same teaching, the same reminder, the same sentiment in a new way.
My mother-in-law, who is a devoted Christian, reads a particular passage in the Bible every morning and shared with Marc and I this one line that she finds comfort in. It's been rolling around and around in my head all day long, and when I sat down to write this was truly the only thing I wanted to share. I hope it sticks with you and gives you some comfort today, whether you're a Christian, a yogi, a worrywort, or blessedly laid back and present. It's striking in its simplicity and in its command, and today I feel there's really nothing left to add...
"Be anxious of nothing."
|My beloved mother-in-law and I by the Ipswich River, 2010. |
Guess which one of us struggles more with worry?
(Though in my defense, Marc had just stolen my paddle.)