Whatever you do, don’t worry about anything, remarks Karl Pillemer in his book 30 Lessons for Loving: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans. This advice stems from interviews with thousands of seniors nearing the end of their lives.
As an aside, recently I saw a clip of a man who had a near death experience and claimed to have received a hug of unconditional love. As he recalled the embrace, he cried and said the experience led him to no longer fear death?further leading him to overlook all of life’s worries.
Once, while thinking of a dear friend, I felt an intensity of love that surged through me so powerfully that I ached. I never felt such a raw sensation of love throughout my life. Coincidentally, as my heart energy flowed over that person, at the same time, he had his windpipe completely blocked, choking. While my heart energy intensified, he, on entirely different floor of the building, managed to clear out his lungs, finally gasping in his next breath.
What does that have to do with not worrying? Finding security in love.
If the love felt during the near death experience removed one person’s worry, shouldn’t we strive to give and receive unconditional love as a means to overcome worry altogether?
Pillemer’s wisest people say that there are many solutions to worry. I prefer the idea of letting unconditional love remove life’s woes, even if we are just givers and not quite yet receivers of love. But, you might find some of the following pieces of advice for bypassing worry equally satisfying:
Choose Happiness and Not Worry
If you don’t get a good grade on an exam, choose to be happy anyway. Everyone has unhappy life events: most of us have many troublesome events. Pillemer’s seniors say that once you’ve hit the age of 70, you’ve had a least one life tragedy. So, why let something as small as a test score subtract from your life’s happiness?
And no matter what grade you get, you are worthwhile based solely on the fact that you exist. That’s what most psychology books I’ve read argue, so there must be some truth or benefit to the view. Take comfort that no grade, no failure, or no loss can hamper your human worthiness.
Happiness is a choice, says Pillemer’s seniors. You have the power to choose it, regardless of the negatives life tosses your way. And everyone has troubles.
Whatever happens, choose happiness.
Worry Wastes Time and Does Nothing More
When we worry, we burry ourselves in unnecessary suffering. Pillemer’s seniors say, as they near life’s end, that they wish they spent zero time worrying. Worrying provides no benefits whatsoever. So, when you feel yourself starting to worry, go ahead and map out your dreams and goals or write down interests you hope to soon explore. Focusing on your goals and not your worries helps you stay productive.
Worry takes away and never adds: so let the worry go or take positive action, says Pillemer’s seniors.
Don’t waste time with worries.
Don’t Worry about the Past or Future
Stay in the moment. Don’t let fear, whether of the past or the future, govern your life.
Recently, I got shortlisted for a college teaching position, and I received word that a position would be mine if the next two interviewees weren’t shining stars. After that news, for the first half of the week, I felt the rush of exhilaration. But, for the following half week, I felt fearful. Would I be able to control the classroom? Would I, being inexperienced, have adequate time to prepare? Would I have enough money to afford the supplies I need?
But I tried not to worry about the past or the future, and instead tried staying fixed on the present moment. I asked myself, what can I do this instant to make this opportunity have a happy ending? So, I read up on how to do a Ted Talk, on how the pros create comedy, and, of course, on how to teach: all topics that can brighten up the classroom experience.
Stop fearing your past or future; stay in the present, say the seniors in Pillemer’s book.
Don’t worry about Uncertainty or Certainty
Whether things are certain or uncertain, don’t worry about them. If things are certain, you can prepare and plan. If things are uncertain, you can let yourself flow with the natural forces of life. Whatever you do, don’t worry. Pillemer’s seniors say that worrying blocks you from acting sensibly.
I sometimes worry about having an anxiety attack. That’s because I might risk an anxiety attack if I were to take on too much coursework while working multiple jobs. But instead of worrying about anxiety, I took action. I overcame the attacks through reading books on cognitive behavioral therapy. In other words, I learned how to use self-talk to stop worrying.
If something seems certain, plan around it. If something is uncertain, don’t waste time and energy fretting.
Don’t Worry about What You Can’t Change
Most everyone had awful things happen to them at some point in their lives. But, hey, we can’t change it now, can we? For mistake we’ve made in the past, books on resilience say forgive yourself and move on.
And try not to fashion yourself a “victim.” Instead, yank out your journal and write down your hopes and dreams. Or better yet, do something that brings you closer to your highest aspirations. Cut out a picture of your dream career. Search for a personally meaningful quote to insert at the start of your next essay. Post the words “PhD” on your bathroom mirror. If you can’t change the negative, do something productive to distract yourself instead.
So, if you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it.
Don’t Worry; Just Accept
What do you do if you fail an exam? Say to yourself, “this too will pass” or “let it be,” advises Pillemer’s seniors. Besides, a public finding says that people who win the lottery and people who have severe loss or disability eventually merge to similar levels of happiness anyway. So, just accept your loss or failure.
But try to learn from the issue. In other words, consider the failure as practice for the next exam. Learn memory tricks. Adjust your schedule to fit in more time for studying. Seek out additional books that shed light on your problem areas.
In other words, accept things but make positive adjustments for future success, says Pillemer’s seniors.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff; Enjoy the Small Stuff
If you find yourself facing horrible life events, try not to worry. Instead, focus on the little pleasures that surround us every day. Focus on the bird chirping, on the fact that you are alive, on your ability to continue growing as a fellow human being.
Enjoy the small stuff, says Pillemer’s seniors.
Your Daily Top 10 List
And Pillemer’s seniors say, write down your top ten lists. Make a top ten list of things to accomplish each day. Even make a top ten list of your hopes and dreams.
And don’t worry if you feel you don’t have any hopes and dreams. The more you try to write them down, like watered flowers, the more they grow.
Weed out your worries.