“There are two kinds of worries—those you can do something about and those you can’t. Don’t spend any time on the latter.” (Duke Ellington)
I’ve written here a few time about wasting time and energy on worrying about stuff, rather than coming up to fix things that you can do something about. The secret to success in Ellington’s little quote is figuring out the difference between those things that you can do something about and those that you can’t. Unfortunately this is not an easy skill to develop r to consistently apply in our everyday lives. The result is that we spend too much time worrying about things that we can’t change, impact or fix.
Let’s face it, there are many problems in the world around us that are worrisome, but which we can do little about. World hunger, wars, diseases, income and wealth inequities come to mind, as do a number of other very large and very widespread problems that we sometime worry about. Some find a solution to their worries by jumping into some cause or movement that is focused upon these bigger problems and that’s not a bad thing, if you can let go of your personal worry and focus on the group mission.
There are also big issues that may be too big for any one individual to solve, but which at least lend themselves to some individual efforts that may have impact. Bullying, for
instance, while too wide spread of an issue to be solved by one person, is such that the actions of each individual are helpful and additive towards resolving the problem. If one takes the attitude and approach that the end of bullying begins with me, then there may be one less action or statement or display that reinforces the practice. The foundation of change is to stop the old way and then go forward from that fresh beginning. Stopping bullying when you see it or standing up for those being bullied removes one more worry from your plate, because you could do something about that and you did.
Many of our worries are really based upon fears with the biggest contributors being fear of
failure and fear of rejection. Some of us spend so much time worrying about failure that we never even try the thing at which we are worried about failing. In our personal relations, our worries (fears) about possibly being rejected keep us in our seats instead of asking the girl or guy of our dreams for a dance or a date. Those, too, are worries that we can do something about.
You must confront those fears and overcome them. What is the worst that could happen – that he/she says NO? Would you still be alive? Would there still be hope that someday in the future that answer could change? The answers are yes, so don’t spend all of your time worrying about the consequences of an action that you are to frozen by fear to even take. Go for it! Do it! It won’t kill you and maybe you’ll even get the answer that you hoped for and not the one that you are spending all of your time worrying about. If you want to worry about something, worry about where you’ll go on the date or whether or not you can dance if you get the chance. It least those are things that you can do something about.
So, back to our initial topic from the quote; I think it’s important in life to develop at least some ability to sort out the things that you are worrying about into those two classes – things that you can do something abort and things that you can’t. Once sorted you may find comfort in the little prayer that I’ve referenced many time here before for those things that you now realize that you can’t do something about. Just lay them in God’s hands by praying, “Not my will but thy will be done.” Then let those things go and go on to working on the things that you can do something about. You’ll worry less and get more done that way.
Have a great, worry-free weekend!