July 30, 2014

The Secret to Make You Stop Worrying.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

When I was young, there was said to be an ancient Chinese curse that went, "May you live in interesting times." Leading a busy life, I didn't look deeply into what this meant, or even if it was true. What's wrong with interesting times?

They imply great challenges, and with challenges comes anxiety. At the moment, our times are fascinating, uncertain, in constant ferment, and overshadowed by immense worries. Interesting indeed.

If you take any looming challenge, it can be a source of personal worry, no matter if the challenge is as big as climate change or as small as getting a rise in your monthly rent. Nor does it matter if the challenge is positive or negative. To researchers who measure stress and its effect on the body, "good" stress (going on vacation, getting a new job, having a baby) puts the same pressure on our physiology as bad stress. In fact, any situation can be tinged with anxiety, and our usual response to anxiety is to chew it over in our minds. We worry.

Worry leads people to push back against their inner anxiety, using alcohol, recreational drugs, tranquilizers, and a variety of psychological mechanisms from denial to distraction. But like the tide creeping in, worry has a way of returning, seeping back into your psychology with total inevitability. Is there a way to prevent this recurrence? In the world's wisdom traditions, the answer is yes, if you are willing to dive deeply into the mind and why it suffers. Although each tradition has its own solutions, they all trace anxiety back to two things: the nature of the mind and the conditions of the outside world.

In short, we inherited worry simply by looking out at the difficulties that face us from the moment we were born, with nothing to protect us but our minds. This is both the good news and the bad news, for the same mind that grows fearful in the face of life's challenges is the vehicle for solving fear, anxiety, anger, despair, hopelessness, and all the other well-known varieties of suffering. If there is a secret to ending everyday worry, it is wrapped up in the larger issue of fear.

The secret begins to unfold when you ask yourself a simple question. Has worry ever helped the situation? By this I mean any situation you faced in the past, are facing now, or will ever face. Some people will answer in the affirmative, including some psychologists. Worry, which is low-level persistent anxiety, keeps the mind alert, looking out for possible dangers, avoiding pitfalls, and so on. As realistic as that sounds, the world's spiritual traditions disagree. As Jesus preached, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." If you set aside the Christian context, he is giving advice about what Buddhism calls right action and right thought.

On the surface, the advice not to worry sounds mundane; we don't need Jesus or the Buddha to tell us that. But there's a deeper meaning to consider. We are being told that worry isn't just useless, it throws us out of a desirable state. The state that escapes you when you spend time worrying is what's important, not the absence of worry itself. In the desirable state:

You face the present moment directly.

In the present you see your situation clearly.

In clarity the mind is poised to find answers to problems.

The ultimate answer resides in your own being.

Jesus gave his famous advice about worry with Providence in mind, because the entire discourse of the Sermon on the Mount is about how human effort, struggle, anguish, planning, controlling, and fear is misplaced. Built into the very nature of existence is the path out of suffering. In this view, suffering is a mistake. It may be a mistake with centuries of tradition behind it, but that's secondary. The nature of the mind is non-suffering, and to see this truth, you must first renounce fear and anxiety. They are false friends. They force you to focus on the level of problems while blinding you to the level of solutions. Anyone who has ever been frozen in a moment of panic can grasp the truth of fear's deception. Fear is very persuasive, but it's a terrible guide to the future.

If you want to stop worrying, the secret is to renounce the habit of mind that worry nurtures. Shift your allegiance to a life of non-worry. How is this done? We don't have room here to discuss the ins and outs of the spiritual path, which I feel is a practical path, one that takes you out of habitual, self-defeating mental patterns. If you candidly accept how useless fear and worry have been in your life, you've taken the first and most important step. You've discovered that you are your own jailer, which puts in your hand the key to unlock the door to your cell and choose freedom.

Photo Credit: Totally Severe

Write Your Comment

  1. zumbita

    So if we realize that worry is something we can influence, what is the next step? I am aware that I desire not to worry about things I cannot change, especially at 2,3, or 4 AM when most people are asleep

  2. zumbita

    So if we realize that worry is something we can influence, what is the next step? I am aware that I desire not to worry about things I cannot change, especially at 2,3, or 4 AM when most people are asleep

  3. Yashoda Gowda

    Great advice Dr. Chopra! I have been following the Oprah/Chopra 21 days meditation for a year now. When I stop worrying and start living in the moment the Universe seem to open up for me. Thank you.

More Comments
How AI Can Elevate Spiritual Intelligence and Personal Well-Being
September 17, 2024
Scroll Up