How To Stop Worrying And Start Living (pg 1-49)
How is the new normal treating you? Did you finally learn to deal with the entire COVID situation, or are you still in the process of learning it? The entire lockdown has been tough on me! After surviving COVID, I realized that my mental health was all messed up. The constant worry for the safety of my family, the fear of getting reinfected again, the concern about my M.Phil research work, the worry about gaining weight, and what not! Perhaps, this is the reason why I ended up buying “How To Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie. I am done with all the worrying stuff, and I want to let it all go, and the book is doing a great job in providing me a helping hand. It’s time to share the knowledge that I have gained with you. Let’s begin!
The Day-Tight Compartment Technique To Keep Worry Far Away
We often end up thinking and worrying about the future without addressing the situation that lies in the present. Do you remember the beautiful quote from Kung Fu Panda that said
“Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
But today is a gift.
That’s why it is called the present.”
This is the gist of the day-tight compartment technique too. It asks you to shut off both your past and future. The ultimate aim is to live in the present moment. You do not need to accumulate regrets or sadness from the past and combine it with the worries of the future because that will destroy you.
A month back, I attended a workshop by “Art of Living”. Even there, the instructors emphasized highly to stay in the present. Whenever you find your thoughts drifting towards the bad past or worrisome future, just say to yourself “Stay in the present moment”. Keep repeating it until you can bring the focus of your mind back to the present situation.
One might wonder, if we do not think or worry about the future, we will be doomed! It’s because we won’t be saving money, we won’t planing any insurance. Well, that’s not what the author meant.
No Anxiety For The Future, Please
How can you prepare for tomorrow if you lose your focus on the present? The great things that you do today will help you prepare yourself in the best way possible for tomorrow.
You will have to plan and prepare for the future, no doubt about it, but don’t get anxious about the future. Shake off the anxiety of tomorrow. In the very first chapter, a prayer is recommended. It goes by, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Did you notice the point? It doesn’t complain about the last loaves of bread, no worry whether they will receive a loaf of the bread of tomorrow or not.
Also, a beautiful analogy of the human mind and an hourglass is given. Thousand of grains are present in an hourglass, which passes throw a narrow neck at its own pace. Is it possible to pass more than the default grains through the narrow neck? It is possible, but in the process, you will end up impairing the hourglass. Our mind is like an hourglass. When we try to do multiple things together, we end up wrecking it worries. Our mantra should be “One Task At A Time.”
Learn To Let Go
Our worries often come from our past burdens and regrets and fear of the unknown future. I have experienced worries from both the pillars. During a session with my psychiatrist, I told him that my mood swings or distress as a result of my past experience. Immediately he said that we cannot change the past, but can focus on the present issues. Bingo! He was right. To be honest, there is nothing new in my past experiences. I have learned my lessons well and understood the things and, perhaps, to a great extent, have accepted it too, but still, I often wonder why such a thing happened in the past. Now I know that I need to let it go. It has nothing new to offer, and thinking about it will only bring pain.
On the other hand, I was so tensed about the entire COVID situation. My worries mostly revolved around the question, “What If?” The anxiety was so high that I was always on my toes to make sure everyone is safe and trust me when I say that during those days, I lost the calm and peace of my mind, and then one day, I decided it was enough. The only thing that we need to do is go out only for the essential services, which I have realized is very subjective, and therefore, I have stopped cribbing about it, and the second thing I could do is to take the necessary protection. That’s it! I am so relieved now; I don’t worry about the “What If” scenarios.
So, I guess, sometimes it is okay to give up, to let go. It doesn’t make you weak; it merely shows you that you are brave enough to choose what is right for you. The knowledge of knowing when it is okay to give up shows that you have realized that a particular thought isn’t serving you in the right way, and therefore, you need to part ways
Worrying About The Future Is Of No Use
What is the only constant thing in the world? It’s change! Heraclitus, a Greek Philosopher, too believed in it, and he said, “Everything changes except the law of change. Life is a ceaseless change. The only certainty is today. Why mar the beauty of living today by trying to solve the problems of a future that is shrouded in ceaseless change and uncertainty?”
This is the reason why it is vital to live in your present. Live your today as the best day of your day; utilize it thoroughly, enjoy the moments. You must have heard about the term “Carpe Diem.” It’s a good thing to live by it. Seize the day and make the most out of it.
Time To Question Yourself
So, here are five questions that you should ask yourself. Be honest! I would suggest you pick your journal or your diary and answer the questions in an unfiltered manner. It will help you to analyze whether you are enjoying your present reality or you are crushing yourself under the burden of the past and future. So, here are the questions:
- Am I failing to enjoy the present moment because of my hope or worries about the future?
- Do I spoil the present moment by regretting things that have happened in the past?
- Is the motto of my day, “Carpe Diem?”
- Will following living in the day-tight compartments improve my life?
- When should I start making these changes; today or tomorrow?
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How To Tackle Any Kind of Worry?
Oh dear, please don’t worry! Will you stop worrying now? Emotions doesn’t work this way, right? You now know that you shouldn’t worry but do you know how can you stop worrying?
Willis H. Carrier has suggested a three-step method to solve any kind of worry situation.
- 1. Analyze the situation fearlessly and honestly and figured out what was the worst that could happen as a result of this failure?
- 2. After figuring out what was the worst that could possibly happen, reconcile yourself to accept it, if necessary.
- 3. Now devote your time and energy in trying to improve upon the worst which you had already accepted mentally.
Interestingly, when I and my guy, first developed symptoms of COVID, we used this three-step method to calm ourselves, even without realizing that it is such a wonderful way to deal with the worries. When Akash (my guy) developed a mild fever, he was worried about the entire situation. But is the problem solver, he asked me, “Nilakshi what is the worst that can happen?” It was, of course, to test COVID positive. In the second step, we decided to get the COVID test done. We were prepared for the positive result and in the last step, we tried our best to find a hospital bed, you know, just in case, if we need it. Also, we maintained a very healthy diet to keep our immune system strong.
As expected, we were COVID positive, but we weren’t shocked! In fact, the entire duration of dealing with it was pretty smooth. So basically, there needs to be an acceptance. When you mentally accept the worst thing which can happen, you rationally prepare yourself to reduce the consequences. You will think clearly. Acceptance will settle the turmoil of emotions in your head.
So this is what I learned today. The best way of keeping worry at a bay, is by existing in the present moment. No burden of the past and no anxiety of the future.
Accept the worst which can happen, and then work on the steps to minimize the consequences. I hope that you now know how to live a worry free life. I will be soon back with the second part of it. Till then, keep smiling. Love you.