Yes I know, the title is a literal contradiction that slaps you right in the face. Philosophy is much about tackling questions to big problems than anything else. However if you have kids, or still nourishing the kid inside of you, then you might see beyond the apparent contradiction and reminisce the Walt Disney animation ‘The Lion King’specifically the song where the meerkat and warthog show Simba how to embrace a worry-free life.
‘Hakuna Matata’ – A Swahili saying meaning ‘no worries’ is one of those wise sayings too often ignored, unconsidered in practical life or just upheld for its folkloristic value if anything else.
A question pops to mind as I am writing this – is a worry-free life even possible? In other words, is it possible for a human being, to be born, raised and live in a set of life circumstances which never trigger any worries to arise? I doubt it. What is certainly more possible however, is that there are people who found the right formula - either through sweat, blood, luck or a combination of the three – on how to walk along their life paths with flair and perspective, avoiding useless worries and their wrinkling effect on time, hope and facial skin.
It’s the million dollar question we keep on asking ourselves in an attempt to see through the emptiness of worry,often without success. Face it or lose it, worry has no practical application in life. It serves no purpose other than causing anxiety and stress with all the bodily and mental hangover that comes with it.
The 14th Dalai Lama was quoted saying “If there is no solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem then don’t waste time worrying about it.” Terrible true yet terribly difficult to apprehend when our mind is engulfed by worry or anxiety. So what to do in the face of worry? How can one overcome a worrisome mind or at least make way for a more calm and relaxed state of being?
The Hakuna Matata checklist:
Awareness: The most powerful item on any personal development checklist…mine for sure. I am a true believer that awareness – or conscious thinking – is the key to our own personal mastery. In terms of overcoming worry and anxiety it certainly matters more than anything else. Why? Because worrying is being in a state where our mind is stuck in a negative loop of uncertainty,false hypothetical scenarios,made-up mental imagery and other constructions of our mind as a response to our emotions. Being aware in the moment is crucial for shaking yourself free from that mental and emotional trance. Awareness can be deployed by means of small mental triggers – pinging and inviting yourself to calm down and see things more objectively even in the middle of a moment of crisis.
Eat,pray,love: No it’s not Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller (although I loved it and adore her writing ) I mean
that to live a more worry-free life you need to nourish yourself bodily, spiritually and emotionally. It means
following a healthy lifestyle in mind, body and spirit. Eat healthy because if you feed your body trash, it will work sub-optimally (to say the least) and that ripples through your emotional and psychological health.
Connect to your inner spiritual self, irrelevant of your religious affiliation or beliefs. Deep down we all feel there is something more and that we are all connected to something deeper – something we need to acknowledge, make present in our lives and believe in. Could be your belief in God, the Tao, the spirit of nature or your higher self. It doesn’t make a difference. let it be there in your life. And love of course…the real magic wand against worry. Love is the highest form of positive energy that works magic in all life circumstances. Find it in family, friends, animals, nature – even strangers if may be. Love will give you all the courage, strength and emotional support to travel through the most difficult passages and overcome all levels of worry.
Breathe: I know it’s been oversaid…not enough apparently. A mostly unknown or ignored fact – taught in ancient spiritual traditions such as Yoga – is that controlling one’s breathe means controlling one’s physical, emotional and mental states. Breathing is fundamental to regulate your bodily response to stress and effectively counteracting the stress itself. So when worrisome and anxious thoughts cloud your head remember – breathe deeply and slowly for a few minutes. You can witness the immediate effect yourself.
Think out of the moment: The reason why worry really gets you is that in that moment you are transfixed in a very
subjective state where you cannot think outside the moment. The world seems to fold in that moment in time and sunny tomorrows seem to vanish away in a whiff. Keep perspective on things and that means connecting to the wider picture. Whatever the trouble you need to remind yourself that it’s just a moment in time.
Listen hard, speak softly: In moments of crisis we hardly listen to ourselves, let alone others. But this is missing our way out completely. The loved ones surrounding us might be trying to give us support or words of advice but our worried heads can fail to take notice. To make matters worse, we can also be boorish and snappy and put our relationships under stress. Keeping relationships healthy means to secure a more worry-free life. So remember to listen more and speak with care.
Get out of your head and do something – anything: This is a quick fix that works magic for many people most of the time. When your head is drowning in worries, take leave of your physical location and move out from where you are. Take a walk, go jogging, go for a drive,whatever. Alternatively, find something you like doing which will keep you occupied – be that gardening, cleaning your motorcycle, stitching, building something, whatever. The game here is to get out of your head and focus your mind away from worries and into something which captures your enthusiasm or just calms your nerves.