We worry if we have enough money when we’re old, we worry about our family’s health. We fear if the leaders of the world will destroy our planet. And man, what tragedy it would be if my favorite soccer team would lose the championship next weekend.
Between all those down-pulling thoughts, we tend to forget all the good things we have in life. If we are not aware, we slide into a downwards spiral.
Before you know, all the worries have forced out the positivity out of your head – and suddenly, your world looks dark.
Let’s use our brainpower better.
It is a good idea to worry less. Let’s have a look at how you can manage that.
“No worries, every little thing, is gonna be all right” – Bob Marley
What are worries anyway?
Those things called worries are not more than thoughts about the future of specific topics.
When we worry, we take our glass bowl and look in the future—questions like “What if…” and “What should I do when…” arise.
Worries are born in uncertainty.
When you would already know how things will turn out in the future, would you worry about them today?
I hear you say: “When they would turn out okay, I wouldn’t worry.”
Bad news first:
You’ll never know how things will turn out.
The good news: Statistics say that 85% of all the things we worry about will be good.
“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” – Michel de Montaigne
So why worry about 100% all the time knowing that only 15% percent will turn out not the way you like?
How to stop worrying
Most of the time, worrying doesn’t make sense.
The old Stoics already knew this fact. Their mantra was: Focus on the things you can change.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself with are externals, not under my control, and which have to do with the choice I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are me own.” — Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5.4-5.
Stephan Covey is on the same page. His concept ist called the circle of concern.
Look at this circle.
It represents all your worries and concerns in your life, from the potential defeat of the championship to the health of your family.
Now, look at the second image.
In the circle of concern, there is another circle called the circle of influence.
In this circle, there are things we can control & change.
It is way smaller than the outer circle.
This visualization tells us an important message: Most of our worries are outside of our control.
If you are not a player in the championship game, chances are you can’t control the result.
It is outside of your circle of influence.
What do you think: Should we worry about things we can’t control? Is it even worth your brainpower? Or is it better to stop worrying at all?
Take action, stop worrying
Draw the circle of concern and the circle of influence and put it on your fridge.
Every time you feel like you start worrying, try to figure out which of the two circles the thought belongs to.
If you place it in the circle of concern, relax. You can’t change it. So stop worrying about it.
Instead, you can make a worst-case analysis.
Example: Let’s say your birthday party is around next Saturday.
You planned a garden party, but now the weather forecast tells it will rain cats and dogs.
If it will be raining or not is outside your circle of influence.
What you can do is analyzing the situation and start thinking forward. There is always a plan B.
Worst-Case Analysis: Nobody will come to your garden because all your guests hate rain. You will be all alone on your special day. To make things worse, you already paid a bartender in front. The money is gone.
Doesn’t sound too good. But that’s the worst that can happen.
Now, from the worst-case analysis, you can work your way up again.
You can look for alternative ways.
Is there a way to get all the guests in your house to make an improvised house party? Could you rent a large tend for your garden so that none of your guests will get wet?
The point of the celebration is to get your loved ones around. The weather should not change anything about that.
“Instead of fighting against your destiny, flow with it. Accept and adapt.”
In every situation, there are always several ways to approach it.
Worries are the enemies of a positive mind. Start using the concept of the circle of influence to see whether you are even in control or not.
Remember that 85% of your worries turn out good for you because they will not happen anyway.