HOW TO STOP WORRYING
#1: Act and Then Let Go
Many years ago, when I was going through a rough patch, I was given a card that illustrated a beautiful oak tree on a hillside overlooking a stunning sunset. Below the picture were the words, “When the day is over, and you have done your best, wait the results in peace.” In the atmosphere of stress I was in, absorbing the beauty and wisdom of that card felt like being struck by benevolent lightning. It was perhaps the first time I experienced a sweet surrender to the flow of life… seeing life not as a struggle against a raging ocean, but rather as an adventurous journey down a river that carries us along. It was many years after receiving the card that I discovered the ancient origin of its profound wisdom. It comes from the classical, 6th Century B.C., Chinese philosophical text, the Tao Te Ching. When he wrote this short but mind-bendingly dense historical masterpiece, Lao-Tzu repeatedly made clear that we always have sovereignty over our actions and efforts, but never over the results of those efforts. In other words, you can’t control what happens in life… you can only control what you give to life. There is a deep peace that can be found in that realization… and in that letting go.
#2: Don’t Let Outcomes Define You
How you live is much more important than what you accomplish. That’s because who you are is not determined by outcomes. The secret to a joyful life is simply showing up, participating, and giving of yourself. The results of your efforts will naturally synchronize and manifest in ways that are most appropriate for the world around you. And although you may worry about things being a certain way or changing in certain ways, the time may not yet be ripe for your world to be the way you want it to be. Realizing this is what makes the “wait the results in peace” part of that card’s wisdom possible. Also, loosening your death grip of attachment for specific outcomes keeps you from being defeated and discouraged by your own expectations. This gives you enormous capacity of perseverance to, no matter what, “do the best you can” as the first part of that card’s wisdom suggests. We are each sovereign souls who cannot be defined by the outcome of our efforts. We do what we can with as much compassion as we’re able to muster. But then we have a choice to either spend our lives wringing our hands in a worried frenzy, or to wait the results of our efforts in peace... knowing that, if the results are not good, then they are not the final results.
#3: Carry On
Each day that you give yourself fully to a goal or to a cause you believe in, creates another tiny shift in the eventual avalanche of change. And remember, an avalanche is comprised of nothing more than thousands of tiny shifts… all essential in coming before that last tiny shift which moves the whole mountain. Everything you do in life matters, and there is hidden meaning and purpose behind everything that happens. With just a little bit of humility, you will rise to that higher perspective… a perspective that is so much bigger than defaulting to randomness, worry, and self-concern. Once you connect to this higher truth, you will wake up one day and see nothing around you but a process that is perfection in disguise. And, yes… I know that sounds illogical, and maybe even absurd. But whether or not our minds are ready to grasp this higher truth doesn’t change the reality that we are all evolving to a state of being where worry becomes a laughable concept. We are the Universe itself playing with the Universe itself. Our temporary roles in comedies, love stories, dramas, and even horrors all have a place in our evolution… even if we cannot yet perceive or understand that evolution. Worry is a delusion of smallness and an endorsement of false limitation. At some point along each of our eternal journeys, we will simply outgrow it.
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