A story worth dusting off is about a man who bragged: "I only worry about two things - whether I am sick or well. If I'm well, I have nothing to worry about. And if I'm sick, I've only got two things to worry about - whether I get better or whether I die. If I get better, I have nothing to worry about. And if I die, I've only got two things to worry about - whether I go to heaven or hell. If I go to heaven, I have nothing to worry about. And if I go to hell, I'll be so busy greeting my friends I won't have time to worry. So why worry?"
Regardless of how you feel about his view of life after life, he makes a good point about worry. There is really no room for needless concern about the future. I like what Ralph Waldo Emerson said about worry:
"Some of your hurts you have cured,
And the sharpest you still have survived,
But what torments of grief you endured
From evil that never arrived."
If you're like me, more than once you've found yourself enduring "torments of grief" from evil that has not yet arrived and probably never will. Almost without our being aware, healthy concern for the future can be transformed into cancerous worry. "What if?" we ask.
"What if something happens?" "What if things don't turn out?" "What if.?" Worry can become an all-too-constant companion we might wish would just go away and leave us alone.
And I'm sure about one thing: that my high anxiety about the future doesn't help me with tomorrow's troubles; it only succeeds in ruining today's happiness. The Dalai Lama said something similar.
When asked what surprised him most about humanity, he answered, "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the
result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
I believe that needless worry, more than anything else, has kept me from really living. It has never helped me solve real problems; it has only destroyed what happiness I might have found in the present. What is worry other than habitual fear of the future? It is a habit
of feeling fear. And, like any other habit, it can be hard to break. But also, like any other habit, it CAN be replaced with a better one.
So, what might happen if you should decide to let go of that needless worry -- just for today? Can you do it, for one day? What do you have to lose besides anxiety? And look what you may gain - a chance to REALLY LIVE.
Sounds like decent trade to me.