Saturday, April 30, 2011

Displacing Worry from the Mind

Many of us have a tendency to worry about just about anything in our lives we can set our minds on and these days there are plenty of options. This is not to say that there is never a reason to worry. Yet how often do the things we actually worry about come to pass? Think about the time, energy, and stress hormones that could be saved if we could worry less.

In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, he tells the story of a gentleman who was entrenched in a sea of anxiety from two tragic events that had happened in his life. He couldn’t get himself out of the grip of worry, until one day, his son asked him to help him build a boat. After three hours of working on the boat, the man realized that his mind had been relaxed the whole time.

Why was this? Because psychologically, we can’t think about two things at the same time and if our minds are busy working on something, they can’t be stressed out about something else.

If you’re worried about a situation, ask yourself, “Is there something I can do to make it better or move it towards a less worrisome state?” If so, then make a list and take action. The work will displace the worry by giving the mind something to focus on and at the same time improve the situation.

If things are beyond your control, then get busy planning, thinking about, and doing something else. This will direct your attention away from your worries. As Tennyson said after losing a best friend, “I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.”

What are some of the things you do to take your mind off of your worries?

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